(Read by Mom at the Mass of Angels service on 7/6/99)
Good morning. Joe and I thank you all for coming to celebrate our son Mark’s life.
About four months ago on February 21, 1999, Joe and I had one of our biggest dreams come true. God blessed us with a beautiful baby boy. We named him Mark Warren, after his two grandfathers–and two of the strongest men we know. By bringing the names together, Mark became the greatest little boy we know. A lot of people called him “Markie,” including his big sister Madeleine. Together, Madeleine and Mark made us very happy. We had the family we always dreamed of and a home filled with warmth and love.
We were devastated on March 25th when Mark was admitted to the hospital, where he stayed for nine weeks. It was the most difficult time in our lives, to know that our beautiful baby boy was so sick. After many tests and consultations with many doctors, we found out that Mark had a severe neurological condition that affected his brain and development. We quickly realized that Mark would not live the life we had dreamed of for him.
Fortunately we have been blessed with a very loving, supportive family and thoughtful, caring friends to help us through this difficult time. It was also Mark’s strength, courage, and love, together with our faith in God, that brought us comfort.
Mark went through so much and hardly ever complained. He was a tough little guy with a brave heart and innocent soul. It was because of these qualities that Mark touched so many lives and spread love and comfort to all those who knew him. Mark has made Joe and I better people. Mark has made a huge impact on the world by using the gifts that God gave him, which is, afterall, what we as parents want from our children.
Ever since Joe can remember he has wanted a son. Anyone that knows Joe knows that he has a very special relationship with his dad. Joe was ecstatic when Mark was born. He was going to create a relationship with Mark similar to the one he shares with his own dad. He made plans for them to go fishing and play one-on-one basketball in the driveway. When that dream was taken from Joe, he felt lost.
As time went on, Joe realized how truly special a father/son relationship can be, and how love can overcome obstacles and bring peace. I remember Joe telling me one day that Mark was stronger and more courageous than he could ever imagine, and that he was very proud to have Mark as a son.
I also dreamed of having a son. When Mark was born, I envisioned Mark walking me down the aisle at Madeleine’s wedding. I also imagined that my son Mark would be the one person who would see me as faultless, or at least pretend not to see my faults. When I realized that Mark’s life was in jeopardy, I turned to God for help. I put Mark in God’s hands, and asked God to provide the courage and the strength that I needed to take care of Mark. By doing this I let go of the son I thought I had and accepted Mark for who he was.
By accepting Mark for who he was I was able to receive the gifts Mark was giving me each day. Mark humbled me and has made me a better person. He helped me to stretch myself beyond anything I thought I could be. Mark gave me strength to be a better mommy. He helped me to find peace within myself, simplicity and joy in every day things, and unconditional love for my loved ones. For this I will be forever grateful to Mark. I will miss Mark every day of my life and he will always be in my heart.
Joe and I will cherish the time we shared with Mark here on earth. We enjoyed taking care of him and seized every opportunity to give him special things. For instance, on the day he died, we gave Mark fruit flavored Pedialyte instead of the unflavored kind. And we let him watch his favorite movie “Hercules.” We also spoiled Mark by adding to his Beanie Baby collection each time the Kaiser Hayward gift shop received a new shipment.
During the time Mark spent in the hospital, Joe and I went through a wide range of emotions–from denial and anger to love and acceptance. Despite the sadness of it all, we found ourselves overwhelmed with many blessings. I would like to share a few of these blessings with you.
Dr. Wang, Mark’s neurologist, came to see us almost every day in the hospital, whether or not he had news to report. Each time he saw us, without fail, he would ask us not only about Mark but also about Madeleine and ourselves. He is a very compassionate man and we feel privileged to have him as our doctor.
Mark’s pediatrician, Dr. Raygor, who listened to me when I told her something was not right with Mark, acted on it, and kept in close contact with Joe and I and the hospital doctors. Dr. Raygor was also very concerned about Madeleine and has helped us make sure she is taken care of.
The nurses and the staff in the pediatric ward at Kaiser Hayward are angels here on earth. Each nurse who cared for Mark was loving, gentle, and skilled at her or his job. They taught Joe and I how to care for our special baby. They coached me on how to use the feeding tube, what to do when Mark stopped breathing, and even offered an arm when I had to learn how to give Mark an injection.
The pediatricians on the ward were always available to talk with us and give us as much of their time as we needed. They were always gentle with Mark and took care of us as a family.
Chris Sonnemann, Mark’s hospice nurse, came into our lives just a short while ago, but made such a difference. Chris advocated for Mark’s comfort, as well as our comfort. She was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chris helped us feel comfortable having Mark at home, particularly during the last week of his life.
Another very important blessing for us are Joe’s friends and co-workers at PeopleSoft. From the beginning they have supported us by making fabulous dinners every day, which has taken that burden off of us.
Our friends at Assumption have devoted their prayers, time, and precious gifts to us, and we thank you for that.
Teresa and Jim Bowes have been the best friends that we could have asked for. They came to the hospital day in and day out to keep us company when we needed a shoulder to cry on or a laugh to break the sadness.
Monica and Barry Slivinsky, who lovingly helped take care of Madeleine and supported us unconditionally.
Our parents, Warren and Yolanda Carney and Mark and Geri Wuelfing, your unconditional love for us taught us how to be the parents that we are. We know how difficult this is for you as grandparents and we could not have made it through this without you. We love you very much.
Of course, Madeleine, our sweet girl, is one of our biggest blessings. She helped us see Mark in a very innocent way. When he had an IV in his head, Madeleine saw it as a birthday hat. When we had tears in our eyes Madeleine told us not to cry, that it would be okay. She is our lifesaver.
We were also blessed with Mark. Joe and I came to this realization when Father Patrick came to see us two weeks after Mark was admitted to the hospital. Father Patrick pointed out to us that Mark is our gift and teacher. How true that is. Mark has taught Joe and I many life long lessons, which include: accepting people for who they are, living life each day to the fullest, holding on tight to our faith in God and His many wonders, and loving unconditionally.
Our lives have changed because of Mark and we are honored to be his parents. We were extremely proud to share Mark with our family and friends for he was such special baby. We thank God each day for blessing us with Mark and his sweetness.
We love you Mark and you will always be with us.
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