Jeffrey’s graveside funeral at Forest Lawn took place on an overcast afternoon on Saturday, December 20, 2014. Over 300 friends, members of the community at large, and family attended, reflecting how Jeffrey touched so many lives and changed so many people’s perception of what is important in life. Just as the service was concluding, Jeffrey’s friends placed light sabers in his grave (Jeffrey loved Star Wars), and I sprinkled the first handful of the good earth of this world over his physical remains. Immediately after that, the sun broke through the low clouds and lit the hundreds of blue balloons that were being released and floated towards Heaven. The gathering was completely silent as this happened, and as I watched the balloons, I felt a sense of Jeffrey’s spirit soaring in the heavens with his creator and savior. Towards the end of the ceremony, a herd of deer came out of nearby Griffith Park and grazed on the lawns above us.
I know every parent there was thinking “there but for the grace of God go I”. It is hard to even think about looking into the abyss of losing a child. They say that funerals are a “celebration of life”, but when that life is relatively short and pain-filled for its last few years, the funeral is a profoundly different experience. It is an escape from the pain and suffering of this world, filled with the knowledge that there is a better world, a wider universe, and an all-encompassing love and spirit that embraces our soul and makes us whole again.
The support of friends and family reminded me that there is good in this world, despite its terrible tragedies and losses. There is hope, always. Hope for the next child or adult diagnosed with a rare and difficult to treat disease. Hope that we could have one more chance to be a better parent. Hope that we could be a better child of God, by being more appreciative of what we have, and more importantly, to be happy to share our blessings with others less fortunate. Hope that we develop an appreciation for every moment, regardless of whether we have tears or a smile on our faces. Hope that we have one more opportunity to give thanks for the gift of life, irrespective of how long it may last. Hope that we drop our pretenses, differences and inhibitions, so we can openly love one another. And hope that we have another chance to learn to love ourselves, notwithstanding our imperfections, mistakes, failures, and sin.
Jeffrey’s spirit remains in all of our hearts. He is probably on a cruise of the universe as I write this post, or maybe he is cuddling up with his nephew, Ashton Jeffrey.
Wherever he is, he is bringing peace, love, wisdom, compassion, understanding, and his iceberg melting smile. Let him make you smile in your dreams, and bring light to any darkness in your thoughts. He earned his wings many times over, so let him now be your Guardian Angel. I can’t help but look at his pictures and think what I am going to do better tomorrow, so that he smiles upon me from Heaven. It only sucks if you leave the lamp under the lampstand, or bed, and obscure his radiant God-given light with negative thoughts and selfish actions. OUR awesome boy is home, and we’re just on a holiday, and we’ll have plenty to talk about when we meet again. I know he would tell me to enjoy the time we have left on this trip.