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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Alvarado

Raising Compassionate Children

"He was kind, caring, and had a huge heart for others."

It has been eight weeks since my son took his last breath…

More stories than we ever expected have been shared with our family and throughout the community since then. Some of them are hard to hear, but most are made up of examples of great character, lifelong memories, and enjoyable experiences.

His close friends often said the most significant thing they will remember about Gavyn is that he showed up for them when they needed it most, that he would always have their back, and be wildly supportive.

Classmates from all-around said he would check-in on everyone first by greeting them with a smile, a slick handshake, and finding a way to make them laugh, even when they weren't supposed to. Teachers, counselors, mentors, and principals with careers decades-long, shared that Gavyn had such a strong presence and a unique ability to connect with anyone in the room. Out of thousands and thousands of students, they are confident that Gavyn will be someone they will remember forever.

We would always laugh when Gavyn would continuously say, "I know everybody around here," while holding up a smirk and a step of confidence. After hearing countless stories, it appears that he was not kidding! Gavyn connected with so many people of all ages, all types, and throughout all parts of the community. We hear stories of his kindness from those and in places when we least expect it. It's quite amazing, really, all those he influenced in such a short time.

He was a son, a grandson, a great-grandson, a great-great-grandson, a brother to two, like a little brother and uncle to others, a cousin, a friend to many, and so much more. People, both far and close, said they loved getting random messages from Gavyn out of the blue, mostly to check in to see if they were doing alright. He had a big heart that is for sure, but he also wasn't afraid to stand his ground and share his opinion. I have heard great stories of my son standing up for others, protecting them, listening, loving, and helping them a lot by showing up to be by their side, including my own.

Because of his ability to be kind, compassionate, and caring, he brought much joy and hope into other people's lives. He was there for the sick, the weak, the tired, and the broken. He created some of the most memorable moments, the greatest laughs, joys, and inspiration with the time he shared with us. He helped change my life, and many others, and that continues, maybe even more so, today.

I know now more than ever that I raised a kind and compassionate child. Together, family, friends, and various communities helped raise our beautiful boy to be caring towards others. Not always of-course, but hurt people hurt people, especially themselves. But when my son stood as his true self, he wore his heart on his sleeve and gave the world the best that he could, and he knew how to do it with style!

We can all learn a little something from Gavyn. To start, how we treat others matters. People will not remember too much of what you had, or even what you said, but instead, they will remember how you made them feel. Like Gavyn, greet others with a smile, check-in on those you love, work to deepen connections, show-up, have fun, be creative, and laugh a shit ton. Life is too short. How will you live yours?

p.s. Our family wants to thank everyone who has sent us messages, shared comments, wrote letters, sent books, cards, made videos, phone calls, emails, and stopped to share Gavyn's story with us. For me, especially as a father, I have found hope again in these testimonies. It has helped me work through these early stages of grief and softened the blow of guilt, shame, anger, and immense sadness. Your stories about my son have brought me joy in the most challenging time. So thank you for your kindness. Gavyn would be proud of you all.

Much love,

The Alvarado Family

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