Sunday, December 15, 2013

Funeral Mass

Saturday, November 23, 2013 was a beautiful sunny day in San Diego.  As we drove down from Murrieta on our way to my parents home in Rancho Penasquitos, I noticed how blue the sky was. There were patches of white clouds, but the sky was in Jayson's favorite color. It had been raining the night before and I was thankful that this day, God provided the perfect weather for Jayson's memorial service. The service was held at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a brand new church on the hillside of Rancho Penasquitos with a gorgeous view of the eastern mountains.

We had been busy making the final preparations for Jayson's funeral. One of our friends from Couples for Christ (CFC), Joy DeGuzman, offered to make the programs for the mass. So, on Friday, November 22, 2013, we sat down and discussed the design and Joy made many suggestions. I trusted her expertise and I was very happy with the final product. She printed out over 125 copies for the mass and we soon found out that was not enough.

My family and I arrived early at about 12:45 p.m. to help set-up and get organized.  My sister, Jannette, and the Miranda family made blue ribbons for everyone to wear. My cousins, brother and other close friends began taking pictures and video taping as people begin to arrive.  Sister Joy asked some of our family and friends to help put ribbons on the programs while we waited for the service to begin.

When the hearst arrived with Jayson, the tears and emotions that I had temporarily pushed aside came flooding back. Henry tried to comfort me once again, along with other family members, but I knew this was going to be another emotional day.  My wish was to have a memorable service for Jayson that would reflect the beautiful life he lived.

Just before the service was to begin, the pallbearers were gathered for instructions.  They were each given white gloves and boutineers to wear.  We had selected two honorary pallbearers; one cousin from each side of the family who Jayson was the closest to, Katrina Ermino and Matthew Colada. For the main pallbearers, we selected six of Jayson's dear friends: Joven Isip, Adrian Esteban, Francis Perlas, John Abad, Peter & Philip Miranda.

Matthew leads the way for his kuya Jayson's pallbearers
Honorary pallbearer, Katrina 

The pallbearers led by Matthew, escorted Jayson into the church and family members followed them inside. As you walk inside, three tables displayed collages with origami cranes, flowers and Jayson's portrait.  Also shows the articles from Westview High School's newspaper, 'The Nexus'. Along the right wall was a banner decorated with the cranes as well.

When the service began, a cloth was put over Jayson's casket along with a crucifix. Family members formed a line behind Jayson to follow him to the altar. As friends from YFC (Youth for Christ) played and sang the entrance hymn, the procession began led by the altar server, Fr. Robert Spencer (NMCSD) and Deacon Noel Rivera.

Waiting for the procession to the altar to begin

Jesus welcomes Jayson

My sister-in-law Carole Diola read the first reading from the book of Wisdom 3:1-6. She was followed by Taryn Vinarao who did the responsorial psalm.  My brother, Jerrico, read the second reading from the books of Romans: 14:7-9, 10c-12. The Gospel reading from the book of John 14:1-6 was read by Deacon Noel.

Taryn Vinarao reads the Responsorial  Psalm
Jerrico Colada shares the second reading
Afterwards, Fr. Spencer shared his very personal homily. Fr. Spencer had gotten to know Jayson while he was a patient at the Pediatric ICU at the NMCSD. He would visit and pray over him almost every day while he was a PICU patient. When Jayson was awake and able to receive the Eucharist, he did so. Fr. Spencer witness and was aware of the daily challenges that Jayson had to overcome while he was at the PICU.  With the information he gathered from our family along with what he had witnessed, Fr. Spencer shared Jayson's story. He delivered a very touching, personal and powerful homily. Our family is so very grateful to Fr. Spencer for his homily.

Kristen, Keilani & Jayson with the bread & win
During the offertory, Justin, Kristen and Keilani presented the gifts to Fr. Spencer while the YFC sang "Amazing Grace".

After reciting the Lord's Prayer and offering the sign of peace to each other, the congregation lined up for communion as the song "How Great Thou Art" was sung.  This gave our family the opportunity to see everyone who was at the service.  Afterwards, the YFC sang "Fearless" during the reflection time. This was one of Jayson's favorite worship song.

YFC Ramar Bolo leads the singing

Taryn Vinarao & Jonathan Lumamba

"Dear Jayson" by Tita Net
Listening to this gave me the courage to then go up to give my eulogy. But before I did, my sister read her poem to Jayson entitled "Dear Jayson". (I had shared the actual poem in an earlier post).

When my sister was done, I asked Henry, Justin, Kristen and Keilani to come up and join me as I gave the eulogy. I  had written some notes the night before to list what I wanted to share in the eulogy, but as I stood there facing the many people who have walked with Jayson in his journey, I had forgotten some of the stories I wanted to share.

I was nervous and I was trying so hard to give a eulogy that would make Jayson proud that I controlled my emotions too much and failed to just speak from my heart. I know I did thank everyone for their prayers and support and I did share a few stories of Jayson when he was younger, but it was not the eulogy I was hoping for.

After the eulogy, the Final Commendation and Incensation of the Body was done and the recession began as the YFC sang "A Thousand Fold (Go)".

Despite the upbeat music, the recessional was solemn.  We made our way out of the church and into the cars to begin the 30 minute drive to Glenn Abbey Memorial Park with police escorts.

We didn't get to talk to many who were there and it was only after reading the list of people ho signed the guest book and looking over pictures that we saw who actually attended Jayson's visitation and memorial service.

If the attendance in Jayson's memorial service is a reflection of  his life, then I'd say he lived a life filled with love. Many of our family, friends, co-workers, Jayson's classmates/teachers and hospice personnel attended Jayson's memorial service. Many of Jayson's doctors and other NMCSD staff members were also there to say their good-byes.  Jayson was so loved in life and in death.

I was feeling disappointed the morning after the funeral for not being able to deliver the eulogy I'd hope for and that Jayson deserved.  Soon after this, I received the following text message from Mai Sciarrata (Jayson's teacher for Pilipino):

"It was the first funeral I attended here in America.  Came across this recently, 'a well lived life brings a blessed death.' Your eulogy was so unselfish. I'm so proud of you and Jayson for sure had a big smile the whole time."

I couldn't help but cry after reading her timely text.  I immediately replied back to Mrs. Sciarrata, telling her that I had been feeling guilty and thinking I didn't do as great of a job as I could have on the eulogy. So her message meant a lot to me. It was as if her message came directly from Jayson. Was this another coincidence? I don't believe so. Somehow I knew that Jayson was still showing his concern for me.

We have experienced a range of emotions since Jayson's funeral and we are still taking life one day at a time. I have been busy working on Jayson's photo memory book these past 3 weeks. I have uploaded many pictures to the Glen Abbey website that you can access by searching Jayson's name. In a few days, I plan to write about the actual burial service and will include more pictures.

I haven't decided whether I will continue with this blog or not. For now, I will pray about it and let God lead me. Thank you for reading this blog and now sharing our family's journey.  May God continue to bless each of you.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Video of Jayson's Journey

The following is the video my brother put together that was played during Jayson's visitation.  This is for our family and friends who weren't able to watch it. The video is in youtube, see Jayson story v2 or use the link below.

Thank you for watching this and for your continued prayers.  God bless you all.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Visitation: Day 2

Cousin Jenna knows Jayson and her mom (Tita Anna)are reunited
Thursday, November 21, 2013, was the 2nd and last visitation for Jayson. As in the previous day, Henry & I along with our kids went to the chapel around 4:15 p.m. to spend some private time with Jayson.  Our friend, Kara, and her son, William, flew in from Hawaii the night before and brought with them a lei of black kukui nut with painted blue and white flowers for Jayson.  We placed the lei on Jayson. It was a reminder of the 4+ years he lived  in Hawaii. It was the place where he enjoyed living in and where he discovered his love for music.

At about 4:30 p.m., immediate family members began arriving at the chapel to see Jayson one last time. Soon, many more visitors arrived. We had relatives who drove in from areas north of San Diego and a few relatives who flew in from Illinois. We also had a good family friend, Patricia, who flew in from Tacoma, Washington. The visitors just continued coming in throughout the four hours paying their respect and expressing their condolences to our family.  We want to thank everyone who was able to come by and say their "good-bye" to Jayson.

Jayson's friends from Westview High School
The Galinato Family & I share a hug

At about 6:00 p.m., we began our Rosary. This night we had a group from Corpus Christi Church of Bonita led by Bay Reyes who sang during the rosary.  The music added a special touch to our rosary. Afterwards we invited visitors to come to the front to see Jayson.

During the evening, we heard from cousins, family and friends who shared their stories and special memories of Jayson. Many of them couldn't help but shed some tears, but many brought laughter as well.  Jayson was such a joyful person and it was wonderful to see that the night brought joy and comfort, not just tears.

Cousins, Natassia & Katrina share their memories.

Friend, Adrian shares  funny moments with Jayson
Dad & Mom thankful for privilege of raising Jayson

Jayson's Godmother, Luz, also felt she lost a son

During this last night of visitation, we got a special treat from Jayson's youth group, Youth for Christ of San Diego and South Riverside (YFC SDSR). Music was an important part of Jayson's life and some members of the YFC SDSR led by Lance Guanzon sang a few of Jayson's favorite worship songs and entertained the visitors who were there. They sang "Be by Your Side", "Live for You" and "Heaven". It was a beautiful tribute and farewell to Jayson.

Lance and YFC SDSR lead a prayer after singing 

Throughout the visitation, many visitors brought food to share with others.  My friends and co-workers at Microwave Solutions were kind enough to take care of the food and feed the visitors who came in to the Hospitality Room. Thank you Auntie Luz, Jeanette, Celia and other MSI friends for helping. It was one less thing I needed to worry about. We are so grateful for all your help.

Family & friends share stories in the hospitality room.
Auntie Luz  & Jeanette take care of visitors

At about 9:00 p.m., visitors were asked to leave the chapel to give our family some private time to say our final "good-bye" to Jayson. We were also asked to help make the final preparations and close the casket for the last time. As I help roll the padding towards the inside of the casket, I just kept looking at Jayson's face, trying to etch that image into my memory. This was the last time I was going to be able to caress Jayson's face, kiss his cheek or touch his hand. I couldn't help but cry and feel the emptiness in me. Henry, Justin, Kristen, Keilani and I said our final good-byes to Jayson as we closed the casket.

The overwhelming emotions just engulfed us as we walked out of the chapel.  I was met at the entrance by Joven, Jayson's best friend, who comforted me with a hug. Then, Justin took over and just embraced me along with my nephew, Matthew. Other family members tried to comfort me and encouraged me to stay strong. I promised I would, but I had to let the tears out. Crying is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign that you're human and at that moment I allowed my humanity to show without any hesitation.

It was another comforting night. We were surrounded by family and friends who shared their memories of Jayson. This last night of visitation was very emotional as well and my body told me how tired I was both physically and emotionally. We drove back home to Murrieta that night. The hour and half drive was a very quiet and solemn one with very few words spoken. In hindsight it was probably a blessing for us. We each had the chance to reflect on the events of that day and the memories we shared with Jayson.

We would have one day rest before Jayson's funeral mass on Saturday, November 23rd. There were still a list of things to do in preparation for the mass and burial, but it would have to wait until the next day. For this night, we just needed rest.
Colada and Adams Families

Adams Family

Colada Family

AAMAGL Friends

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Westview HS Article: "Adams Remembered..."

From Westview High School "The Nexus" newspaper Nov. 22, 2013 issue
by Sam Bouzoukov, Editor in Chief

Jayson Adams (10) passed away in his room
on the afternoon of Nov. 12. He had been 
battling two aggressive formsof cancer.
Adams remembered by family, friends for gentle, loving spirit

Jayson Adams loved the paper cranes. Karina Lin (11) and Julia Pene (11) knew by the smile he had on his face. They knew by his body language. They knew by the excitement in his eyes.

They could tell he loved them.

His mother and other family members expressed their joy and gratitude through the tears coming down their faces.

He woke up Oct. 27 to the sight of his friends with almost 2,000 cranes in hand. While Lin and Pene originally aimed to make 1,000 paper cranes, they had enlisted more than 80 people from across the country to make some for Jayson.

After two years of battling cancer, at 15 years old, Jayson passed away in his bedroom Nov. 12 at 2:52 p.m. While his siblings were still at school, his parents were in the room with him.

"We found out on Tuesday, and had a rehearsal that night," Lin said. "You could walk into the [band room] and feel sadness in the air.

Jayson Adams mourned, honored by loved ones after battle with cancer (Page 2)

For all of his life, Jayson had been described as a kind spirit. When he was in Kindergarten, Adams was voted "Most Spunky."

"He was a gentle, happy little boy with a very kind soul," Jessie Adams, his mother, said. "Jayson also had a joyful spirit. Jayson enjoyed going to the beach, water park and hanging out with his friends after school."

Jayson moved for most of his life due to the fact that his father was in the military. When his family lived in Oahu, Hawaii Jayson learned how to play the trombone, ukulele and guitar. It was there he discovered a passion for music.

In mid-2011, his family moved to San Diego. Adams attended Westview the second term last year, his freshman year. He was first diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that attacks connective tissues, on Dec. 7, 2011.

Then, in September of this year, Jayson was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a disease in which bone marrow makes an abnormal amount of white blood cells. These diseases left him undergoing chemotherapy.  In the hospital, Lin and Pene both saw how much he persevered through his treatments.

"When we were in his bedroom [giving him the cranes], you could see how excited he was, even though all those bad things were happening to him" Lin said.

For those who knew Jayson, his fighting spirit and positivity stood out most.

"He never gave up on anything," Pene said. "Two weeks ago, a week before he passed, he decided he wanted to go through chemo again. It shows how strong he was, and how he wasn't going to give up. He was always fighting.  He didn't let [cancer] get to his spirit."

Social science teacher Nic Spiess had the chance to experience Jayson's positive attitude in the time he had with him in his English class.

"[His sister] brought him into my class before term two had started and introduced me to him." Spiess said. "He never complained. He never whined. He had a really positive attitude each and every day. To me, it was inspiring. He had a lot of challenges in his life, and he just tackled them. It makes the things we whine about seem trivial."

Jayson's faith in God also resonated to those around him. From the blogs his mother posted to the stories close friends told about him, Lin saw hoe his faith shaped his character.

"Faith is a fragile thing, and it's so easy to fall away from God," Lin said. "When Julia and I were in the hospital, his mother was encouraging us so much and talking about faith so much. We ended praying together, and it just encouraged me to believe in the fact that God was in control."

Even in his greatest pain, Lin says that Jayson always managed to encourage people and give hope to them, especially towards her sister, who was Jayson's best friend.

His optimism and positivity helped inspire those around him.

"The fact that he was optimistic during a difficult time makes me re-evaluate my life and not take things for granted," Lin said.

To honor Jayson, during the band tournament at Arcadia on Nov. 16, the band made and wore orange and yellow colored anklets. The orange part of the anklet represents leukemia, while the yellow represents the sarcoma. With the anklets, they were able to dedicate their performances to him.

The band wanted to honor his fighting spirit.

"He always had the will to fight," Lin said. "He persevered so much. His spirit brought all of us together. I'm so grateful [for] Jayson."

Jayson's funeral is scheduled for tomorrow.

"Thank you Jayson for being an amazing son," Jessie said. "Though our heart aches, we are comforted in knowing that you are no longer in pain and are with your loving Father with a new mission in heaven. We promise to honor your life Jayson by living a life that is honorable to God. We love you."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Visitation: Day 1

Our family made it through the first night.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013, was the first night for Jayson's visitation at Glenn Abbey Mortuary. It had been over a week since Jayson was taken from our home in Murrieta by the Riverside Coroner's office. This would be the first time we see him in the casket. I was nervous about seeing him again and questions filled my mind. How would I react when I first see him? How would Henry & our kids react? Would the mortuary do a good job in preparing Jayson? Would he look like Jayson? The questions kept coming.

Henry, Kristen, Keilani & I arrived just before 4:00 p.m. Justin was already in the parking lot when we arrived and we waited for him to get changed before we enter the chapel as a family.  There were a few other family members there already, but the doors would not be open for public viewing until 5:00 p.m. Henry, our kids and I were allowed to go in at 4:15 p.m. for some private time alone with Jayson.

As we walked in, I noticed the light blue wall across the room, Jayson's favorite color.  It was as if the chapel was customized just for him.  On the right side of the chapel were two TV monitors that showed pictures of Jayson while a solemn music played over the speakers. To the left of the entrance was a table with the guest book, service folders and prayer cards with Jayson's picture on it. Next to it was a basket with a flower arrangement from the Nash family, a family we became friends with while we were stationed in Hawaii. To the right were two seating sections of about 15 rows of benches facing towards the other end of the room.  At the end was Jayson's open casket with a beautiful floral arrangement of blue & white roses on top of it.  Immediately to the left of the casket was a framed portrait of Jayson on canvas. On both sides of the caskets were floor lamps along with an assortment of flower arrangements sent by family, friends and various groups.

As we walked down the aisle towards Jayson, I was surprised I wasn't yet crying or overwhelmed with emotions. There was a peace that came over me as we approached him.  As soon as we got to Jayson's casket, I noticed that Jayson's face looked very peaceful, as if he was just asleep. The mortuary did a great job with Jayson's face.  I had given them a picture of Jayson taken in August of this year to show them how Jayson had looked. I noticed the few strands of hair left on his chin. I was glad they didn't shave off  what was left of his beard as I had requested. He was so proud of the beard that he had just started growing out in August, but most of it was removed while he was in ICU in September. I also noticed that they added a little hair just above his upper lips. Jayson was still bald for the most part, but I did notice that his hair was just starting to grow out again. Overall, I think Jayson would've been pleased with the touch ups that were done.

I touched Jayson's face and said a short prayer. I then noticed the tears slowly coming and I  wasn't alone. Justin, Kristen & Keilani were all solemn and Henry was quiet and was pleased when he saw Jayson. Like me he was in peace and comforted in knowing Jayson was no longer suffering, but with his heavenly Father.

Keilani's note to her Kuya Jayson
After a few minutes, we began adding final touches around the casket. We had brought some strands of cranes that were hanging in Jayson's room. We placed a string of colorful cranes on each side of Jayson. The color just jumped out against the cream-colored padding they were on and next to Jayson's white long-sleeve polo shirt. Keilani wrote a note to Jayson and we put it next to Jayson along with our family picture. We also placed a rosary on his hands. We added another string of cranes above Jayson's portrait and at the podium. Once we finished adding the final touches, we just spent some quiet time reflecting on what we were seeing. We took some pictures and then invited other family members to come in a little early to pay their respect to Jayson.

In the back of the room, near the entrance, my sister, Jannette, and other family members displayed pictures of Jayson with family & friends.  They also added more strings of cranes on the collages.  It was great to see Jayson smile and personality in the pictures.

More people began filing in and made their way to Jayson. The eyes of many of them were filled with tears as they looked at him. Some touched him, while others just stared at him and said a prayer. Most of them had visited Jayson at the hospital or at home. Those who weren't able to were more overwhelmed at seeing Jayson because the last time that many had seen Jayson was while he was in remission or when he had a full head of hair. Most visitors came to express their condolences to me, Henry and other family members throughout the night.

At 6:00 p.m. we began the rosary and completed the 9th day of the novena we had started the day Jayson passed away.  After the novena, we again invited visitors to approach Jayson if they wanted to. I wasn't able to talk to everyone who came the first night, but I remember most of them who were there. We are very grateful to all who came to say "good-bye" to Jayson during the first visitation.

At 7:00 p.m. my brother played a video montage he made that shared Jayson's story through words and pictures. (I will post video separately later this week.) Watching the video brought a range of emotions and many tears. This was the very first time most of us had seen it and Jerry did a great job producing the slide show.

I know that our family is not the only ones who have been heavily affected by Jayson's passing.  We know there are many who are grieving and hurting as much as we are. During the latter part of the visitation a few of Jayson's friends and cousins shared their fond memories of him during the eulogies. Some brought laughter while others brought out tears.  Jayson has touched so many lives and he will be missed dearly. We know that God called Jayson home because he had completed his mission on earth, but even knowing that doesn't lessen the pain we now feel.

We were able to get through the first night of visitation with the help of so many people such as our family, friends and the staff of Glenn Abbey. A special thanks to Auntie Luz, Jeanette & Celia and other co-workers from Microwave Solutions who managed all the food donated by visitors in the hospitality room which allowed us the time to talk to Jayson's visitors. Thank you to everyone who was able to come by the first night.