Below follows Ean’s eulogy for his sister Gianna:
1/8/2011 Funeral Mass
Queen of Angels Church
Port Angeles, WA
Well, I’m quite new to eulogizing, and if I don’t do it like I ought to, it’s because I was reading about astrobiology and human longevity when I should have been writing and practicing this.
First of all, I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being here instead of watching the Seahawks game. I would then like to thank you all from the rest of my heart for being here and supporting my family.
Objectively, there’s not much I can say about the actual events of Gianna’s life, which is what I gather you’re usually supposed to do with these things. Her life was short, too short for her to go to school or have a job or a family or really do any of the things that our society views as important. But that’s not a bad thing. She changed probably hundreds of people just by the fact of her life—and I’m sure I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of all the love and support and testimonies my family has received.
The beauty and preciousness of life was absolutely made manifest in her. We’re all headed for death, but I think that with most people, the gift of their life is spread across several decades, and so we tend to take less note of it while they’re here with us. With Gianna, it was condensed into two weeks, and so it was made really obvious. We were really driven to appreciate her life while she was here.
The way I see it, there are two ways a Christian can be closest to God on this earth: There is the conscious effort to be holy, supported by God, that people like the saints exhibit, or a sort of unconscious holiness that babies have by virtue of their sheer innocence. People like John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa radiated love from themselves through their connection to God. Gianna had a powerful capacity to inspire love in others through her connection, the pure and innocent connection, to God. This love touched many lives in ways I’m not sure I can fully comprehend.
I have here a quote from one of my friends that demonstrates how God worked through Gianna to bring people closer to Him: “I never met Gianna, but simply through her existence, she helped me understand the beauty and sanctity of life. Saints inspire us and draw us closer to our Maker; even before she was born, your beautiful sister did just that…Know that Gianna’s memory has been indelibly marked in our hearts.”
But it’s not just Gianna that changed things. It’s our reactions to her, the choices that were made and the things that were done, that have witnessed to the power of God, his love for us, and our love for each other.
Caring for a baby is always hard, and it’s always worth it. I would venture that it was even harder with this baby, knowing that she was going to die soon, but it was also exponentially more worthwhile.
My parents gave Gianna every chance, and they treated her with as much love as they would any other baby. Other people supported them in turn, and this outpouring that Gianna inspired has just had a snowball effect.
For me, anyway, it’s hard to be really sad when I look at all the great things that have happened as a result of Gianna coming to us. Sure, I’ve grieved a bit, but my overall feeling is one of joy and thankfulness for everything, which kind of eclipses the sadness.
Just to name a few of the things I’m thankful for: We had two whole weeks with her, which is longer than I think most people expected, we had amazing people to help us through this, and other people who were just stirred by her story.
For me personally, I was back home from college for her arrival and departure, and, best of all, she’s definitely departed for heaven. I’ve also come to greater faith in God as a result of all this. I really can’t think of a better proof for a loving God than the example of love such as that which has been exhibited by the people surrounding Gianna. I’m convinced that it was living a life focused on God that enabled so many people to rise to the occasion and give of themselves for the sake of this child. You don’t get this kind of love and care for others without God. You just don’t.
Gianna has inspired me to live my life more fully. We’re all dying; Gianna just died sooner than most. While we’re here, we have opportunities that she never had, and yet she has done more to change people’s hearts than I think many of us have, and that is perhaps the greatest thing about her life. God used her life and the love that surrounded it to touch many, many people. Let’s all let Him use our lives as well, and be thankful for the gift of Gianna’s life.