A number of my friends have asked for a copy of the eulogy I wrote for my son’s funeral this afternoon. I decided to post a copy of it on my blog, even though it has little to do with technology. I also wanted to thank all the people who have shown my family and I such love and support over the past week. God’s family is absolutely remarkable.
Aaron’s journey began on a snowy evening in February. To no one’s surprise, his mom spent the afternoon trying to find a substitute teacher in between contractions, while his dad spent time phoning friends and relatives. Everyone knew that Aaron was special from the minute he was born. With a heart rate of over 300 beats per minute, the nurses’ quickened pace seemed to subtly contradict their smiling faces and reassuring words. Within an hour, Aaron was transported down to Children’s Hospital with a diagnosis of Wolf-Parkinson White Syndrome, a common heart problem that periodically speeds up the heart. “No problem” said the doctors, “lot’s of kids live normal lives with WPW.” And within a week, Aaron was home with his family, living the life of a beautiful newborn.
That first month was special as Aaron’s red hair grew long and curly and he learned how to use that beautiful smile. He was healthy, active and growing strong. Then, in an instant, everything changed. That snowy night, Aaron’s mom and dad said their prayers and tucked Aaron into bed. Little did they know, his heart had begun to race. When his mom went in to check on him a little later, she found a gray and lifeless child. CPR was given, the ambulance came, the men worked on him, and they took little Aaron away. From that night on, Aaron’s life course changed from what his mom and dad had charted for him. They began on a journey together—just like an adventurous sailing voyage, no one knew exactly how to sail, how to drop anchor, or where they were going. But the thing was—they were in it together and they would never be alone.
Aaron came home from the pediatric intensive care unit 3 months later accompanied by nurses, tubes, medicines, social workers, and a list of things to do to keep him alive. Within the chaos and storm of those first few months, God began to demonstrate how he would care for Aaron (and his family). One after another, He sent very special people into Aaron’s life. Whether it was the Mary Poppins nurse who sang songs to Aaron from morning to night, the New Age PCA who would massage Aaron’s forehead with essential oils whenever he looked concerned, the Happy bus driver ladies who greeted him each morning with music and smiles, the Dedicated teachers who believed in his ability to do more than just sit in his chair, or the Faithful friends from church who would make animal noises and talk to him every week, God surrounded Aaron with people. These people helped raise him, love him and, many times without realizing it, helped care for his family as well.
Aaron’s journey took a new course when he moved into the group home in Roseville two years ago. It was a miracle he found a place like B2. Really. A miracle. Paid for by the State of Minnesota (his family says thank you) and only 10 minutes away from anxious and guilt-ridden parents, Aaron was immediately surrounded by new friends, stuffed animals, and very special people who did more than care for him. They opened themselves up and cared about him. It wasn’t long before his family saw new enthusiasm in Aaron’s eyes. His smile was wide as he went on excursions to parks, parties, and 3D movies. He had found a very special place to call home.
The last two months were a difficult part of Aaron’s journey. It was during this latest storm that Aaron and his family felt the deep devotion from his ACR family. Whether it was hospital visits where staff would read books and sing along with sing-along tapes or training sessions where staff learned how to do new and sometimes uncomfortable procedures, Aaron and his family never felt so supported and lifted up as they did when they saw another ACR staff go out of their way to make things better.
Aaron experienced lots of transitions and uncertainty over the past month, but through it all he showed resiliency and charm. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before his new caregivers in Red Wing were making animal noises, reading books, and humming as they left his room. That’s the thing with Aaron. He had a smile for every occasion and reminded everyone who stopped to listen that there was joy to be found in each and every little thing.
And that’s where Aaron’s journey came to an end. It concluded as unexpectedly and dramatically as it began. When we look back over his remarkable voyage we can see that we were never in this alone. It took a community to raise Aaron. His life was filled with love and people who saw the remarkable child who thrived within his imperfect body. And the thing is, Aaron seemed to understand God’s way of doing things a little more clearly than the rest of us. Whether it was his bright smile or infectious laugh, Aaron saw the beauty in things. He took us on an adventure that brought us to an extraordinary place. We are far stronger and far more understanding of God’s deep love and God’s mighty power than we would have been if this journey would have taken another course. Who would have expected that this smiley faced, red-haired, freckled-face boy could have accomplished so much in just 20 years.
One Reply to “The Remarkable Life of Aaron Kendall”
Dear Peggy, Thank you so much for posting this. Tears are falling on the computer as I read this halfway across the world. Aaron did have a way of touching people’s lives, my early mornings with Aaron when I was in college and he was just starting his school experiences are memories of smiles and laughter I will treasure.Hugs and prayers,Lori ps. Thanks to technology (Facebook and this blog) I’m able to join those grieving his death and pray for your family.