Garrett Matthias was only 5 years old when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that attacked his temporal bone, cranial nerve, and inner ear. Within months, his condition became untreatable.

When Garrett’s parents learned their son’s cancer was terminal, the Iowa couple began having an open dialogue with Garrett about how he wanted to be celebrated. He began by penning his own obituary, which was full of character and humor.

About nine months after his diagnosis, Garrett passed away. In the midst of their grief, Emilie and her husband remembered something Garrett said to them after coming home from the funerals of other children from his cancer ward. “Why are funerals so sad?” he asked. “I’m going to have bouncy houses at mine.”

The more Emilie thought about it, the more she realized her son was onto something. The last thing she wanted to do was stand in a solemn funeral home all day long, having to make pleasantries with guests and hear the words “I’m sorry” over and over again. She decided she wanted to honor Garrett in a way that would make him happy. Something more personal, joyful, and even fun… just like her boy.

So as guests pulled up to Garrett’s memorial on a sunny afternoon, it was clear his parents did everything they could to fulfill their son’s whimsical wishes.

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