One year ago today a young man with a huge smile to match his heart passed away. I grew up knowing him and his family–in fact, I was often mistaken for his sister when we were both little, one of those funny memories I didn’t remember until he was gone. I wrote this a year ago after attending an event we had on campus at Texas A&M to honor Garrett’s life and to mourn his passing. Today, I and the people who had the honor to be a part of Garrett’s life, not matter how deeply, donned bowties (or bows) and boots–two of Garrett’s wardrobe staples.
In the post mentioned above, I said I have been to more funerals for young people than for the elderly. There is something inherently heartbreaking about the loss of young life, something that rends the very fabric of the way we expect life to be. Death isn’t easy no matter what the age; sorrow cannot be cheapened by claiming that. For many, death is the final mystery and the greatest fear. For others, it is only the beginning. I don’t pretend to have the answers to the Great Life Questions. But I realized then, holding a candle in the cold in front of the Academic Building while stories about Garrett were related and tears were shed and later, standing in the dark and listening to the last notes of Silver Taps echo over Academic Plaza on that starry night, there is hope. Seeing the impact that Garrett’s passing had on those that knew him and those that didn’t alike was a moment that reminded me, at a time when everything in my life seemed to be spiraling towards a future where I didn’t know up from down, that death is not the end and that whatever curve ball life throws at us, we don’t have to do it alone.
It’s difficult to trust, to believe in something you can’t always see. To have faith. It may seem backwards that the passing of a young man reminded me at a time when I needed it most that God exists, that he holds life itself in his hands. It’s not a popular view–especially in the face of loss. But I, for one, have seen God through the outpouring of sorrow and love at the loss of Garrett and through his parents and friends as they took to social media to express their thoughts and feelings with honesty, with love, and most of all, with faith.
I’m wearing a bow today to remember Garrett, to honor the life he lived, and in the hope that I can make half of the difference in my life as he did in his.