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Below is the piece I wrote for Owen’s funeral, which was read aloud by our dear friend, Jen Weiser. Jen was one of Owen’s first caregivers and the first person, possibly even before me, to delight in Owen’s absurd and wonderful ways.
(And speaking of absurd and wonderful: this photo was taken the Thursday before Owen died – his last known photo. It is a passport photo I organized with a portrait photographer/friend in preparation for our upcoming trip to California. Passport photo rules state that it must have a white background and that you can’t be smiling. My friend did a great job editing the background out – but nothing, not even federal regulations – could get Owen to stop smiling.)
Owen provided light and goodness to all those around him. He graced us with the gift of his smile, his laugh and his wide-eyed gaze. His effect was so profound, it is easy to imagine that he was heaven-sent for the sole purpose of bringing love to us earth-bound mortals.
There is no doubt: his energy was generous and loving and all encompassing – his value to this world is not to be underestimated.
But as I contemplate this thought, the circle of Owen’s life now complete, I know that there is much more to his story than this.
Owen came with immense challenges. Throughout his entire life, he was impossibly – sometimes unbearably – vulnerable and needy. Was he this way solely for our benefit? Surely there are easier ways for a soul to spread love in the world.
I believe he came as he did because he was on his own path of discovery, growth and healing. To only see him as an angel sent from above is to possibly miss the entire point of his life.
Perhaps his brilliant light shone because Michael and I chose to expose him to the world, love him completely, and not hide him away – and this community responded by looking – by holding our son in its compassionate, loving gaze. Maybe this is what he came for – to fulfill his soul’s need to be seen and loved, broken body and all. Perhaps his karmic need to be loved was so great that there was no option but to arrive in the body he did.
If this is the case then the value of Owen’s life is realized not in spite of his disabilities, but because of them.
Owen came to us, in his perfect broken state, seeking unconditional love and care. Your profound expressions of love and compassion, every day of his life, showed him he was worthy – giving him the lightness to smile back and say thank you.
Owen could have remained invisible, as so many like him are. Instead, we loved him deeply – and because of this I believe he returns home fulfilled and whole.
Our selected readings
It is indispensable for both the dying person and those
who are in contact with them to accept the reality of death.
This acceptance gives the person the right to abandon their
bodily envelope in peace and without fear. It offers them
the freedom to die without regrets, and to abandon their last
earthly ties. For loved ones, this letting-go means not resisting
the subtle awareness of death, not obliging the dying person
to remain invisibly behind in this physical realm. It means
freeing oneself from the selfish aspect of loss, so as to give
to the departing one the possibility of experiencing fully the
stages which will lead them to one world or another. In this
context, it is of little importance whether one believes in an
afterlife or not. What is important is total affection, and a
peaceful atmosphere – a final gift and proof of unconditional
love. Is this not a wonderful offering?
– His Holiness the Dalai Lama
I look upon you in the world of spirit
in which you are.
May my love soothe your heat,
may my love soothe your cold.
May it pierce through to you
and help you find the way
through the spirit’s dark
into the spirit’s light.
– Rudolf Steiner
Displayed Memorial Card