For Charlie's funeral, I felt impressed to ask my friend Emily to share some sweet memories of Charlie. This impression came very distinctly after kneeling in prayer, with my husband, for guidance and direction as we struggled to put together the funeral program. We immediately drove to Emily's house to ask her if she'd be willing to take on this somewhat daunting task. She was so willing, as I knew she would be, and I felt so good about her speaking knowing how well she knew Charlie because he and her daughter were best friends.
A few days later I began doubting our decision. Was it too much to ask of a friend? Should my husband or I, or a family member be the ones to be sharing about Charlie? Did she feel overwhelmed by our request? So I called Emily with my doubts. She simply said, "From the day Charlie died I somehow just knew I'd be asked to speak at his funeral and I am prepared with some thoughts and ideas." I just started crying. In answer to prayer, the Spirit had led us both to the same conclusion, and it was definitely meant to be that way. Here are the words Emily shared at Charlie's funeral. They could not have been more perfect.
CHARLIE Sept 7, 2015
I honestly feel so honored to be up here today. Our family loves Charlie so much and I know that all of us here that knew him, love him too, so I hope I can share some thoughts and memories of him that we all have and treasure. I have a little girl almost exactly the same age as Charlie, and so we’ve had a lot of play time with him the last 22 months. Charlie is one of her best friends. He is one of the only reasons she will even go to her church class every Sunday. She always says, “Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!” And he was always such a good sport to put up with her “mothering” him. She loved to feed him granola bars, pat his head, rub sunscreen on him, give him hugs and kisses and even, sometimes, look down the back of his diaper to make sure he was clean. He was a patient, sweet boy. And like my daughter, everyone wanted to be around Charlie. People were drawn to him, because they could feel of his love.
Charlie was blessed to be born into such a fun, loving, awesome family! If any of you know anything about the DeGraff’s, it’s that they love to have fun! They are always going on fun family adventures and making special memories, and Charlie was NOT just along for the ride! He wanted to be a part of everything, and he was! Charlie probably had more fun, love and adventure in 22 months than other kids have in years! Charlie was one of the most coordinated, and capable toddlers I have ever met. He could do everything. I remember giving him a ball to play with when he was so little and he threw it right back to me. And he could jump on the trampoline and even ride a strider bike! A few of my favorite memories are: that Charlie loved to RUN! Especially run away from Ali and Troy when they wanted him to come. As soon as one of them would say, “Charlie”, he would turn and look at them, with his cute little smirk on his face, with a twinkle in his eye, he would turn and start running in the other direction! (And usually with only one shoe on!) Charlie liked to run into the dug out, to hang out with Jack’s baseball team, and he also liked to run onto the soccer field to join Sam’s soccer practice and would start kicking one of the balls just like he was part of the team or he would run down the sidewalk, following the kids on their bikes, Charlie always wanted to be a part of everything.
Charlie also loved to CLIMB and was good at it! Anytime you would walk into the DeGraff’s house, you would find all the chairs up on top of the table to keep Charlie from climbing up onto the table or onto the counter or even to the sink to turn on the water. He loved to climb wherever he was and could also climb out of his crib. He would climb and find the toothpaste and squeeze it all out, everywhere. But he was just such a happy, go lucky kid that he made all of these climbing adventures seem fun and easy. He would make us all laugh and his laugh was contagious and made everyone feel happy. And as we know, “Charlie could hang!” He loved to hang on things and was so strong, Troy could lift him up to hold on a tree branch and he could hang there while Ali took a picture. And he LOVED it. He always had a big smile on his face. He could hang from trees and monkey bars and shopping carts and drinking fountains, it was so cute. He is such a fun loving kid.
Charlie also loved to SWIM! I can’t believe what a good swimmer he was! Ali would put his floaties on and he would just jump into the water and never wanted to get out! He would walk along the edge of the pool and then turn and jump right in, usually landing on a another kid! He loved to jump in over and over again. And smiling the whole time. Charlie didn’t say much, but he always had this happy look in his eyes, and he knew what was going on. He knew much more than we did. He was like a wise, old soul, with so much love and understanding. Charlie was always happy and everyone wanted him around because they could feel his love through his sweet, kind personality.
Charlie was a LOVER! I remember even when he was little, he would let me hold him and he would wrap his arms around me and hug me and just snuggle right in. And let me hold him forever. He would give hugs to people he didn’t even know, but especially to his family. I know that he gave lots of hugs, cuddles and love to Ali, Troy, Jack, Lucy and Sam. Maybe he was just giving us lots of extra love so that we would know how much he loves us. I asked Sam if he liked to wrestle with Charlie and he said, “he would sit on our heads and pull our hair!” He loved his brothers and sister so much! I know that Lucy loved to tickle his tummy and make him laugh! Troy and Charlie seemed to have such a special, strong bond, possibly because Charlie loved adventure as much as Troy! I remember how Troy would hold Charlie’s feet in one hand and let him balance and hold him way up high and Charlie would just laugh! He also loved to sneak sips of Troy’s soda. And Charlie was Ali’s little buddy. Always hanging out and loving each other! He loved to be on the front of his moms bike for family bike rides. Charlie is blessed to be a part of an amazing, strong, righteous family! As you know, toddlers are your WHOLE LIFE! They demand every minute of your attention, to make sure that all their needs are met and that they are safe and taken care of and they are SO BUSY and it’s all you do! But toddlers are also the WHOLE LIFE of a family! Charlie was the life of his family! Charlie made everyone laugh, Charlie made everyone happy, Charlie made everyone play, Charlie made everyone have fun, Charlie made everyone serve, Charlie made everyone feel better and Charlie made everyone feel loved.
Of all these precious memories, how could I best describe Charlie? It is this: Charlie is love. Charlie loved his family, he loved being with them, he trusted them , he loved others and he showed loved through his hugs and kisses and through his bright blue eyes. He loved every minute of his life which his family helped him live to the fullest. I hope we can all be like Charlie and show this unconditional love to others. Charlie, we love you, thank you for teaching us how to love. We know your love will continue forever and we’ll miss you everyday.