Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Mommy's Tribute

The following is the eulogy that I read at my son Gabriel's funeral, held on June 27, 2011:

Ben and I would like to thank you all for being here to honor our son, Gabriel Michael Gerard Cude.

A year and a half ago, Ben and I stood before this same altar to be married.  We were so full of hope and promise then, as we looked to our future as a family.  In that year and a half we have lived a lifetime - Gabriel's lifetime.  Today we are here for our son's funeral, but we still have hope.  There is still promise, because one of the many gifts that Gabriel gave to us was a message of hope where there is despair. 

Much has been made of the fact that Gabriel lived for nearly ten days after he was born, but Gabriel was alive for nine months before that, developing likes and dislikes and a personality that would help him when he was born.  Though it never mattered to us whether Gabriel was a boy or a girl, we learned that he was in fact a boy, and he was given a very special name.  We introduced him to you, and you grew to know him and love him and respect him for the unique individual that he is.  He was alive to all of you before you'd ever even laid eyes on him.  Most of you never met Gabriel in person, yet here you are, celebrating his life, the life of a little boy who in nine months and ten days, changed the way many of you viewed what it means to be alive.

Gabriel re-defined beauty.  Those of you that saw him, or pictures of him, know that he was born without the top portion of his skull.  His brain was exposed and for several days he wore no cap or dressing that would hide his defect.  But you did not run from him.  You embraced him, looked at him and marveled at how strangely beautiful he was.  You looked past his defect to enjoy things like his perfect lips, his big feet, or his unexpected blonde hair.  You grew to love his face, which never quite looked like the face of a newborn.  Gabriel had the mature look of someone that was wise beyond the minutes, hours, or days he lived on earth.  I'll remember always te day a friend brought her seven year old son to meet Gabriel.  He was in awe of Gabriel, and touched his face lovingly saying over and over, "Hi Baby."  I asked him if he saw that Gabriel looked different.  He said yes, so I asked if it bothered him and he shook his head.  To him, Gabriel was not flawed, he was just a baby.

Gabriel had his Daddy's quiet strength and his Mommy's strong will.  For ten days he put those character traits to use, beating the odds and surviving longer than expected and longer than most babies with anencephaly do.  It was the most spectacular ten days of our lives as he taught us so much about the kind of people we want to be.  When someone dies, we like to be comforted with words like "He went peacefully," but Gabriel did not go peacefully.  He struggled with seizures that caused him to have trouble breathing, but he did not give up.  He died fighting, railing against death and forcing it to take him kicking because he would not go willingly.  And as hard as it was to watch, I am proud that, in a world where to many give up on life, Gabriel fought to keep living.

Upwards of 90% of babies like Gabriel never get the chance to live outside of their mothers' wombs.  That means they never get the chance to touch a church full of people -- and more than a church full; Gabriel was prayed for and his story is known across the country and all over the world.  And you in turn will tell people of the miracle of even a short life.  I often speak of Gabriel's life as ten days that changed the world.  Some of you hugged your children a little closer or looked at their crying as a gift rather than a demand.  Some of you told me you would do things differently, things in your past or in making future decisions.  It was my dream for Gabriel that in his short time on earth he would do what politics cannot do, and that is change people's hearts.  You are all forever changed beause Gabriel lived, you are different people now who will love differently and live differently because no matter how long he lived, HE STILL LIVED.  It was our honor, and our pleasure to witness the miraculous life of Gabriel Michael Gerard Cude.


  1. Wow - sweet Momma - that was so beautiful! What an amazing tribute to your amazing Gabriel! Thanks so much for sharing. Praying for your heart - HUGS!

  2. That is the most powerful, touching eulogy I have ever seen. Such a precious child, with such a short life, but he touched so many, as did you and Ben. We are all blessed to have been included in your sweet little circle. I have followed your story through my daughter, Christie, and have had my eyes and heart opened because of your willingness to share your triumph and your heartache. May God bless and keep you and ease the loss of your little miracle boy!

  3. I lost a grandaughter on May 13 due to anecephaly. My daughter and son-in-law new at 13 weeks that Elizabeth had anecephaly, but their decision was to carry her and give her a chance. She was the most precious baby I have ever seen. She lived for 1 1/2 hours. Through her short life she touched a lot of people. Like Gabriel, people everywhere was praying for Elizabeth and her family. We know that Elizabeth and Gabriel are in heaven and one day we will hold them again. My thoughts and prayers have been with you and your family. May God continue to bless you.

  4. So beautiful & very touching. Gabriel crosses my mind every day. And every single time that I think of him, I think of his "contagious smile". Gabriel touched the lives of so many. I'm sure him & Sophia are the best of friends.