It goes without saying that none of us were prepared to lose Gianna at 12 years old.
And it goes without saying that people will tell you one or more of the following things upon hearing the news:
“God always takes his strongest soldiers.”
“She was too good for this world.”
“Heaven needed their angel back.”
It’s perfectly acceptable for you to say such things, but none of them offer any real sense of comfort so early on in the grieving process.
Because the truth is, we all selfishly want our loved ones here with us forever; regardless if they were “too good” or if “heaven needed another angel”. Plus, none of us can deny the reality that there ARE still plenty of wonderful people that do get to stay here until they are well into their senior years. So why did this happen to this amazing, strong, beautiful young child and her amazing, strong, beautiful family?
Unfortunately, there are no direct answers to that question; so we can’t waste time lamenting the unfairness of the situation. Instead, we need to find strength in the legacy of a wonderful light in everyone’s lives. A light named Gianna.
Gianna may have only existed here in the physical sense until she was almost 13, but she will live in our hearts and our spirits forever. That is not a cliche statement either. Gianna was an inspiration to anyone who met her, taught her, loved her, learned from her, and worked with her. From a very young age, she exhibited many gifts far beyond her years. She was wise. She was compassionate. She would think nothing of sharing her last cookie, or making you smile with a dance or a joke.
I am not exaggerating when I say that our family received unlimited commendations regarding Gianna since she was a toddler. We were very used to hearing the following from teachers, friends, and family:
“I love that girl”
“She’s so special”
“I can be around her energy forever”
“She never wants anyone to feel left out”
“My kids love her”
“I wish she was in my class every year”
“Her talents are unlimited. She impresses me time and time again.”
And they were all true. People always told me that she wanted to be just like me, her godmother who also adored music and performing and school. And we would joke with each other in a competitive sense from time to time that she was my mini-me, but had likely surpassed me in her star power. I actually told her that she had me beat when she was picked for a solo in her Italian recital at 4 years old. I had been picked for many-a solo in my life, but never that young, and never in another language! And now, I have to stop talking about myself because she is currently in Heaven yelling that everything is not always about me (another one of our ongoing jokes). :)
But here’s the thing. It’s VERY rare that one little human being would hold the amount of sparkling treasured energy that Gianna did. From the stage to the podium to the awards ceremonies to the altar, Gianna was always quick to volunteer for additional extra-curricular activities and she would excel at them ALL. She was an honors student, a minor league cheerleader, a competition dancer, a choir singer, a saxophone player, a school monitor, and a Sugar Scrub business owner - all before the age of 13. And that was on top of her main responsibilities as a daughter, sister, granddaughter, goddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, and teacher’s pet. :)
So even though *we* will probably never stop saying that she was “taken” from us too soon, her mission was very well executed. She provided an example of a perfect human. I know some say there is no such thing as perfect, but she really was. She left us the blueprint. She was celebrated as a kind student who stood up against bullying in elementary school, and she would expertly mediate arguments between her siblings and extended family members as an adolescent. She would work extremely hard to achieve the highest marks possible on her school assignments - even stressing over her quarterly exams while bravely battling cancer a couple short months ago - and she would consistently pull through with As (she ended up receiving nothing less than a 95 on those aforementioned quarterlies and actually scored a 110 on one due to extra credit!). She was fighting against a vicious monster for these past couple years, but she did so with courage and conviction. And she pushed herself as far as she could go to stay here for US, as that shining example of perfection; because she knew we needed her instruction manual.
No one wants to see parents lose their children at such a young age, but Gianna is not lost. She found her path, and her journey was packed with more impact than most people triple her age. Yes, all parents hope for a long, healthy life for their children. But they also hope to raise respectable, responsible, smart, sharp, and talented human beings too. And Jillian and Carl succeeded in that regard 110%. Lucia, Briella, and Carl are lucky to have Gianna as an older sister (now in angel form), and she was lucky to have them as her sidekicks during this magical journey.
Please don’t mourn the years lost, but instead celebrate a life that was truly lived.
Talk about Gianna as often as possible. Use her as your guide whenever times get tough. Teach your students about her. Tell your babies about this powerful warrior who lit up any room she entered. And most importantly, support Carl, Jillian, Lucia, Briella, and Carl as much as possible. They are the absolute best family you can find. Gianna knew. Which is why she chose them as her own.
Thank you all for being there for us through these trying 22 months.
With Love Forever and Ever,
On Thursday, September 16th, The Brooklyn Cyclones dedicated a game to our precious Gianna.
Hundreds of our friends and family attended to support and witness a special pre-game ceremony and other special tie-ins including the legendary, world-famous parachute jump being lit up with her name!
This was a night to remember
and we are grateful for the celebration.
Pictures and videos coming soon!