A cancer-stricken 5-year-old boy penned his own obituary before losing his battle with cancer – recalling how much he hated “dirty stupid cancer” and signing off with “See ya later, suckas!”
Parents Emilie and Ryan Matthias, of Van Meter, Iowa, knew their plucky tot Garrett deserved something other than the usual, tear-filled funeral or humdrum obituary.
So they had him fill out a unique questionnaire that they turned into his official death notice.
“We really tried to use his words, and the way that he talked,” Emilie told the Des Moines Register. “Garrett was a very unique individual. What I really didn’t want was for his obituary to be ordinary and to have a really sad funeral. We’ve cried oceans of tears for the last nine months.”
The results were fitting for the Batman-loving prankster, who died July 6 after suffering from alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that affected his temporal bone, cranial nerve and inner ear.
He described “the things I love most” as “playing with my sister, my blue bunny, thrash metal, Legos, my daycare friends, Batman and when they put me to sleep before they access my port.”
Under things he hated, Garrett included, in part: “Pants, dirty stupid cancer, when they access my port.”
And under “When I die,” he humorously noted, “I am going to be a gorilla and throw poo at Daddy!”
The little thrash-metal fan finally signed off as “The Great Garrett Underpants.”
Garrett was first diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in September. By mid-June, doctors found that the cancer had spread to the lining of his brain and prevented the regulation of spinal fluid. He was suffering from severe headaches and back pain – and doctors told his parents the cancer was resistant to treatment.
The disease was terminal.
“You choose and make hard decisions about poisoning, burning and cutting your child. Those are things nobody should have to do. Those shouldn’t be the ways we treat our kids,” Emilie said. “Cancer is horrible. This kid is awesome and he died of cancer.”
Emilie and Ryan met with several families affected by pediatric cancer and attended a number of funerals as Garrett received chemotherapy. The boy made his final wishes clear.
“He would say, ‘Why are you funerals so sad? I’m going to have bouncy houses at mine,’” the mom recalled.
Garrett’s daycare secured five bouncy houses for his funeral Saturday, which will also include snow cones, fireworks and other carnival touches.
His ashes will be carried on a pond on a small boat that a local archer will shoot a flaming arrow into — a proper “Asgardian” burial ceremony in a nod to his favorite Marvel character “Thor.”
In his official obituary, the heartbroken parents paid their gratitude to the doctors and nurses who cared for Garrett – and remembered their son as a true fighter who kept everyone laughing.
“Garrett endured nine months of hell before he lost his battle with cancer. During that time he never lost his sense of humor and loved to tease the doctors and nurses,” they wrote. “From whoopy cushions and sneaking clothes pins on their clothes to ‘hazing’ the interns and new staff doctors, he was forever a prankster. Nothing caught people off guard as his response to ‘see ya later alligator.’”