I was emptying my pockets from that day and found the words I spoke at Gracie's celebration of life -- I wanted to have a record of what I said before throwing the printed copy away, so I am including them here:
Last time I prepared something to say in front of a group like this was a year ago as we prepared to go to Boston. I came up with pages of things to say about our journey with Gracie up to that point – we were very scared, but at the same time, very hopeful – this time was much harder, believe it or not, I'm kind of at a loss for words.
We want to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for sharing in the journey with our Gracie. I can't adequately convey to you how proud we are to be able to say that we are the parents of that little girl. It is overwhelming to us to see all of the people that she impacted in her short life. It's impossible for me to put into words what she has taught me. She has made me a better man. As cliché as this sounds – At night, in the sky there are millions of stars – most of them you can't see and the ones you do, look like they're staying in one spot – some brighter than the others, and once in awhile if you're lucky enough to be looking up at just the right time, you will see a bright star streak across the sky and before you know it, it's gone – often gone so fast that you are unsure even of what you have just seen – I know I'm biased, but I believe that Gracie was one of those shooting stars.
Many of you had never met her in person and I'm sorry you never got to see the Gracie that we knew. She was not just the miracle baby hooked up to all of the tubes and wires that you saw in the pics from her hospital stays, but was a smart, funny, and charismatic little girl that we were so excited to share with everyone. For those that didn't meet her, we didn't want your only memory of her to be in a funeral home in a coffin, so I ask that you take a look at the many beautiful pictures of her that are here today – She truly was as beautiful as she was strong. I have needed to remind myself of her strength a lot these last few days and will continue to use that as the source of my strength in the difficult days, weeks, and years to come.
As difficult as losing Gracie is to us, we are very proud to be able to say that we tried everything we could to give her the life that she deserved.