Like hundreds of others around the world, I am compelled to share the story of little Garrett Matthias, who left some awesome last wishes before leaving this life, much too young, at age five.

I listened to a TV interview with his parents, who through their tears spoke about how delicately they handled asking him questions about his end of life without really calling it that.

When asked if he preferred big or small funerals, he response: “Funerals are sad.” (Even a 5 year old know that’s our custom.) Instead, he wanted “5 bouncy houses (because I’m 5), Batman, and snow cones.” I kid after my own heart. He wanted to be remembered for being fun and full of life. He did not want them to be sad.

Of course they will be, but they will also have smiles for the rest of their lives because of him.

And from his parents, at the end of the obit:

“A private burial of Garrett’s ashes will be held at a later time once his parents figure out how the hell to get his ashes made into a tree and locate a nature preserve, so his tree resides in a protected area.”

I love these people. They preserve every ounce of their vulnerability and humanness even in the face of their worst nightmare. They don’t hide behind trite platitudes, or the same scripted words and sentiments that people typically fall back on.

It may take extra time to realize your humanity, but then it’s the easiest thing in the world to just be yourself. Even when you’re grieving, saying goodbye, being slain by life’s unfairness. Just say what’s in your heart.

Which is what Garrett himself did. He just said what came to him… he knew no other way to be.

What a shining example to us all.

Thank you, Garrett, and your whole immediate and extended family, who were so, so very blessed to have had five years of your indomitable spirit.