“My name is: Garrett Michael Boofias. My birthday is: I am 5 years old. My address is: I am a Bulldog!”
Those are the first words of Garrett Matthias’ obituary. Like he told us, he was five, and a boy so filled with energy and light that his spirit has captivated the world.
Garrett’s favourite people included Batman and “the grandparents with the new house” (he was quite fond of “the grandparents with the camper”, too). In his final goodbye, the little boy spoke of wanting to become a professional boxer one day, how much he loved playing with his sister Delphina, and his favourite blue bunny.
“Things I hate: Pants!, dirty stupid cancer, when they access my port, needles, and the monkey nose that smells like cherry farts.”
That second hatred – dirty stupid cancer – is what took Garrett away from his mother Emilie and father Ryan, who live in Iowa, United States.
“The left side of his face looked like it was paralysed when he smiled,” Emilie told the New York Times on Saturday of the first red flag something was awry. It took a number of doctors to pass the oddity off as Bell’s palsy before one doctor arrived at a far more sinister – and crushingly accurate – diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma.
The dirty, stupid reality was that little Garrett, then four, had an inoperable tumour snaking its way between his temporal lobe and inner ear.
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The Matthias family found themselves 30 weeks into what was supposed to be a 54-week chemotherapy treatment cycle when Garrett developed blistering, debilitating headaches. The cancer had spread to the lining of his brain, and would eventually find its way into his spinal cord.
In the last nine months of his life, Garrett became something of a legend on his hospital ward. His reluctance to wear shorts or pants earned him the nickname “The Great Garrett Underpants”; he said it would be his boxing moniker if he was ever given the chance.
“When I die: I am going to be a gorilla and throw poo at Daddy!” Garrett wrote in his obituary. “I want to be [cremated] and made into a tree so I can live in it when I’m a gorilla.”
Not a fan of “sad” funerals, Garrett wrote the celebration of his life should include “5 bouncy houses (because I’m 5), Batman, and snow cones”.
On July 6, Garrett floated up and away from his doting parents, sister, and the doctors and nurses who relished his “forever a prankster” spirit. The weekend saw loved ones gather to remember the little boy who left such a beautiful mark on the world.
Of course, there were snow cones and bouncy houses and even fireworks to make Garrett’s last wish of a great big carnival come to life.
According to his parents, nothing could have summed up their boy better than his cheeky final words.
“See ya later, suckas!”