The bagpipes were playing and the Red Serge of two RCMP officers were present when we arrived for the service.
Hundreds of us gathered to say goodbye for now to Dejah; our hearts heavy as we looked at each other knowing this made it more real. It was time to acknowledge that one of our babies had moved on. He came to us through Glo and Bob, but we all saw how he was family to many more, some he hadn’t even met, but to whom he became beloved nonetheless. Such was, or rather, is, his beautiful spirit.
The air was a mix of warm expectancy and wistful anticipation, the kind where we needed to say to ourselves – hold it together here. Just hold it together at least until you can take a seat. We pinned on little yellow ribbons in support of beating childhood cancer as we lined up to sign the guest book on our way in.
There was so much love gathered today through Dejah that at times it was overwhelming. They were not tears of grief, it was the fullness of hearts spilling over. All got lifted up with all the messages of love spoken by those who took turns to share their feelings and experiences with him. His sister Rayne couldn’t have had a better letter of sibling love to share with us. His Uncle Dwayne spoke to that part of us that loves with a parental heart. Family friends shared how their lives have been impacted by him and his family.
We watched a video that displayed how much life that young spirit lived in between the bouts of inconvenience caused by cancer invasions. It was astonishing to realize how much life he packed into the short thirteen years he was to be here. It seems miraculous actually. Through those pictures we saw how much he loved to laugh, and he showed what really living was about, even with insurmountable challenges.
One of his best friends, Tre, stood up and told us, in the way only a kid can, what it was to be Dejah’s friend. He told how Dejah was a video game king that regularly brought his opponents to their knees. Tre made us laugh as he admitted he was one of those friends who felt like crying when Dejah wanted to play a video game because he knew he was going to get wiped out within minutes. He reminded us of what it means to be a kid when he described how they would put Dejah into a baby cart at the grocery store and run until it fell over, and then they would fall over laughing. We were overcome by Tre’s beautiful recounting of his friendship, and from the wisdom, far beyond his years, that he gained from it.
Dejah was the typical hockey-obsessed Canadian kid – one happy to throw a dig at his soccer loving friend, Nuvin, in good-humored contempt. This is especially funny because Dejah was the inspiration for the start of a fantastic organization, started by that friend, called Kick for a Cure. They work to raise awareness and funding for research of childhood cancer treatments – mainly through annual soccer tournaments.
He was an inclusive caring boy who lit up the hearts of so many with a remarkably warm smile. That was an often mentioned point. He laughed, and loved, and played the hell out of life.
He showed, even today, that to really live is about grabbing the moment we have, this one right here and now, and making it as worthwhile as we can.
Grab the opportunity to smile and laugh at anything you can. Do whatever it takes, even something as crazy as recording yourself elaborately eating your last bite of a sandwich. Just. Do. It. You have no idea how funny that will be some day.
It wasn’t an easy life for Dejah, and just like the rest of us, he had some days that made it too hard to smile. His lesson isn’t that life will always be easy, it’s make the most of it when you can. Strive to make the most out of what you do have, while you have it.
All too soon, the celebration was nearing the end. We were all given tree saplings to plant in his honor and then we were given blue helium-filled balloons. It was time to symbolically release our fears and pain and send out instead, our love for Dejah and for each other.
We cheered as the balloons rose and we watched as they drifted up into the sky, up and up, and then somebody realized a distinctive shape to them. Look, Caroline said, they’ve gone into the shape of a heart, and they had. Somehow that didn’t really seem all that surprising. It was just another addition to the moments that display the power of Dejah’s spirit.
An earlier post I wrote about Dejah has, so far, been read over 1,100 times on seven continents. Those are the reads that I can track, the ones that I can’t probably drive that number into the thousands.
It’s astounding to realize that a seemingly average young boy from Eagle Ridge in Coquitlam has touched so many people around the world. It boggles my mind to try to comprehend that his spirit has literally surrounded the planet.
Glo and Bob, that spirit that was to be such a gift to so many came through you, and you nurtured it until it became whole in its perfection, until it was time to be released. You are to know that you did well. You did very, very well.
The family requests in lieu of flowers that you consider making a donation in Dejah’s memory to (your choice):
Canuck Place Children’s Hospice:
Kick For A Cure: http://www.kickforacure.ca/donate-to-kfac/