Although 5-year-old Garrett Matthias experienced more hardship in his short life than any child should, he remained positive until the very end. The Iowa boy suffered from alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, and passed away on July 6.
Garrett was known for his sunny personality, and he was always cracking jokes. His sense of humor and positivity even shone through in his obituary, which he wrote himself with the help of his family prior to his death.
When Garrett’s parents, Emilie and Ryan, learned in June that their son’s illness was terminal, they wanted to ensure that his wishes for his funeral service would be fulfilled, and that his obituary accurately reflected who he was as a person.
“We really tried to use his words, and the way that he talked,” Emilie told Des Moines Register of the couple’s process of helping their son write his obituary. “Garrett was a very unique individual. What I really didn’t want was for his obituary to be ordinary and to have a really sad funeral. We’ve cried oceans of tears for the last nine months.”
The resulting obituary is a beautiful portrait of a little boy who retained his sense of joy, even in the face of illness, pain and his own death. In it, Garrett addresses some of his favorite things, which include his family, Batman, his blue bunny, Legos and “when they put me to sleep before they access my port.” He also names the things he hates, including pants, needles and “dirty stupid cancer.”
Regarding his funeral, Garrett expressed his desire for it to be as fun and happy an occasion as possible: “Funerals are sad. I want 5 bouncy houses (because I’m 5), Batman and snow cones.”
With the help of his daycare, Garrett’s parents were able to fulfill his requests for his celebration of life, which will be held on July 14. In addition to the five bouncy houses and snow cones, the event will also feature fireworks and a “Symbolic Asgardian burial ceremony,” also per his wishes.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family pay for the medical expenses they incurred during Garrett’s treatment, and the obituary also offers links to three charities to which donations may be made in his honor: The Little Al Foundation, The Pink Tractor Foundation and the University of Iowa Dance Marathon.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Garrett’s family and friends as they mourn the loss of this incredible little boy.