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March
25
2020

Team Gabby Gives is Finally Up and Running!

Ok here is the big TEAM GABBY GIVES update! It's been a challenge to get things up and running. When Gabby passed I had a few conversations that led us to believe it would be pretty easy to get things going. That didn't really turn out to be the case, partially because something fell through and partially because I had backlog of "life stuff" to address after Gabby passed (still do) and my level of focus has not been at all time high after the death of our daughter. The current zombie apocalypse isn't helping.

We recruited good friend Michelle Giarrusso Murphy to help us get things off the ground, and she has been a God-send already. She is a super competent person whose kids have gone to the same camp as Gabby for several years, and we are so excited to have her involved! She found CharitySmith.org, a 501c3 that hosts memorial funds for families, for us. Ultimately we hope to grow into our own 501c3, but that is an extensive process I was too distracted to undertake right now, and with government agencies slowing to a halt right now, the process would probably be completely hung up anyway. CharitySmith will host our site and handle all of the back end functions for us for the time being, including getting tax deductible receipts to all donors. For those of you wondering what was going on with checks you've written to TGG in the past 2+ months they should finally get deposited in the next week.

We live in very uncertain times, especially in NY. We don't even know for sure if summer camps will be able to open this summer. In reality, that may shut down some great camps with rich histories. They need our support more than ever - they have full time employees who exist to serve kids. Our hope is that life will return to normal sooner rather than later and Audra and I will be speaking at Camp Orchard Hill's Jr/Sr High School week July 19-25. Either way, we will continue to support COH, Camp Cherith, and other camps like them. A lot of Gabby's strength or joy was fostered at camp, and we want many other kids to have that experience. So anyway, it's pretty simple and humble but we are excited to unveil to you TeamGabbyGives.org. :) Please share if you like.

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March
2
2020

Family Update

I guess we're long overdue for a big "how are we doing" update. The short answer is pretty well. We had good trips to Florida and Aruba in February thanks in part to generous friends and family, and now we are back and ready to resume this weird transitional phase of life. Marianna started a new job at Helping Hand Rescue Mission, Audra is going to start subbing at Harborfields High School soon, and as of this past weekend I am officially unemployed for the first time in almost 20 years! I've got a good idea as to what comes next for me (more on that at some point), but I don't plan on working a whole lot for the next six months or so. We are still getting my mom moved out of her house, and we are about to have one built for ourselves (in the same place we live now). That will take a lot of our attention for the next few months. I also plan to do some writing and hiking (hopefully Mount Washington in June and Mount St. Helen's in September) in that time frame. Jonny took a semester off from school with our encouragement to do so and is planning to go to New Zealand in May as long as we can find a way around Corona hot spots for his travel (pray on that one, please). I am pretty sure he's about to start working part time too. We plan on going to a LOT of Yankee games this year. Make sure you let me know if you want to get to a game with us. We have a ton of tickets.
 
We miss Gabby a ton, but we are deeply comforted that she is in a wonderful place and we will see her again. We are grieving and healing in our own ways, getting help where we need it, and trying to stay busy but not too busy. I cry for her most days, but only for a few minutes... not because she died, but because I miss her like crazy (and that may get worse, I know). We have lots of life to live, God has missions for us that remain ahead, and there is lots of joy in most days. That joy has never stopped. Gabby was strong and full of joy to the very end. We feel no guilt enjoying life because there is no doubt that is what she wants - it is what she did until the very end.
 
I'll do a more in depth career update at some point (no rush on that one) and a Team Gabby Gives update in the next week or two. Hopefully things are starting to come together with TGG after some initial bumps in the road and we will have some exciting announcements soon on that front.
 
Love yous all... keep praying for us.

February
16
2020

February 15, 2020

“I really thought we were getting our big miracle,” I said to Gabby toward the end of her fight. She said, “Oh mom, we got so many miracles.“

 

The kid’s perspective often surprised me.

 

“Gab, I really think you’re gonna have to go straight to Jesus and he’s going to need to physically touch you for you to be healed, just come back to us, like Lazarus, if you can. But I understand if you’re having too much fun there.”

 

Well, I know she’s having too much fun, but I’m still wrestling with not getting a big miracle when I really, really thought we were going to. When so many of us were praying for it. I really believed and I know a lot of you were praying for it and believing with me.

 

I’m not gonna lie, I am sometimes confused by how things went down. I occasionally get angry at God about it. But it’s ok, God is big enough to handle my puny anger. And if I go to Him with my anger he helps me think straight and actually comforts me. I think it’s ok to get mad at God, as long as it doesn’t stay that way. I love people that I get mad at (like my hubby). I love people I don’t understand and people that I argue with. Sometimes it takes time, and I have to work it out with them. But I still love them - same with God.

 

The biblical profit Habakkuk is helping me. He says some powerful things in his little 3 chapter book. The one I’ve been thinking about the most lately is, “the just shall live by faith”(Habakkuk 2:4b King James Version).

 

When things don’t make sense I can choose, I can choose, to live by faith. I can trust in a good God that will make it all make sense one day. I can look forward to a day when, as Habakkuk said, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14 English standard version). I really know that  heaven and earth will be united one day. The Bible says that one day all things will be made new. For now...

 

“There comes a time,” says Robert Morgan in his book The Strength You Need, “when all we can do is live by faith. We can’t figure things out, we can’t explain things; we can’t solve or disentangle them; can’t clarify them or clear them up. We have no answers; we only have the Lord-and we have His great principle given to us fourfold in scripture: ‘The just shall live by faith’”(123).

 

It’s repeated, word for word, four times throughout the Bible (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38) the just will live by faith. But the concept is the theme of the entire book. It’s restated and rephrased through out, and it’s how I want to live, now and always. 

Proverbs 3:5-7 5 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

 

 

 

January
20
2020

A Joyous Burial (Weird, we know)

Gabby's burial service on Saturday was wonderful. I had been dreading it, but God's blessing was all over it. It was actually... FUN. I know that's hard to fathom, but overall we're really happy with how all the funeral events went. We feel like we really honored her and put a fitting cap on her joyous life, and we started the healing process for ourselves and lots of other people. God's presence was there, and we take great comfort in knowing that Gabby, who hated sad things, would have liked it a lot. In fact, she DID like it a lot. I know she was looking down with a giant smile on her face as all her friends wore their onesies (and HER onesies) and blew bubbles. She arrived on this planet with great joy, maintained that joy throughout her life until the day she died, and was sent off with a burst of joy. And it was beautiful. When I started the Caring Bridge site I called it Gabby Cava Beats Cancer. Well, it killed her, but it never beat her. She defanged the worst beast imaginable, and now it's up to all of us to carry on as she did: Fearless, Faithful, and Fun. Carry the torch, everyone. #BeLikeGabby #SimpleFaith #BubblesAtAGraveyard #OnesiePower #BuffleVision #NoSting #GrievingwithHOPE

January
20
2020

Eulogy Text

Here is the eulogy I (Dave) presented.  More details on the funeral events (which were a blessing) in the next few days.

What was the longest party you ever attended?  Maybe a few of you were in fraternities and went to parties that lasted more than one day.  In Jesus’ time the wedding celebrations lasted a week.  That’s why Jesus turned the water into wine.  It was the towards the end of the party and they had run out of wine.  Well, Gabby’s life was a party that lasted sixteen years.  When she was little we called her the Port-a-Party, because she brought the fun with her wherever she went.  There were well over 200 people at her Sweet 16.

We are in a lot of pain today and that pain will go on long after today, but I want to tell you today that THE PAIN IS WORTH IT.  When Audra and I got married my father’s uncle asked if we planned on having children.  I said “yes, we hope God blesses us with children”.  He said “That’s good.  You don’t know what it is to not live for yourself until you have children”.  My dad later told me his son had died of AIDS.  Uncle Bill, with all his pain, knew it was still worth it.

So I want to let you know today that the love and the joy this kid brought our family will forever eclipse the pain of losing her.  Despite our broken hearts, today our strongest sentiment is gratitude.

There are really two ways to look at Gabby’s death.  We can focus on what has been TAKEN from us.  Or we can focus on what was GIVEN to us.  Gabby was and is an incredible gift to our family.  And so today we’ll express our sorrow to God, but louder than that we will say THANK YOU for the great gift He gave us, for the vivid burst of joy he loaned us for 16 years.

Let me tell you a little about the great gift that is Gabby.  She always knew what she liked, and she wasn’t very compromising about it.  When she was five we went to Disney World and Gabby would only pose for pictures with the female characters.  The rest of our family would be there with Mickey Mouse, and Gabby would be there off to the side, arms crossed, face locked in a stubborn, defiant frown.  There’s pictures of it around here somewhere.  If it were up to her Gabby would always eat the same things: Chic-a-Filet, buffalo wings, nachos (only chips and cheese), and macaroni and cheese (but it had to be Kraft).  She only wore fuzzy socks.  She didn’t own any socks that weren’t fuzzy. 

She loved sunsets and would go way out of her way to see a good one.  She wanted to fly since she was a little kid.  One year all she asked for for her birthday was enough helium balloons to float into the sky like Curious George did.  I actually researched whether this possible and figured out we’d need like 10,000 balloons or something like that, and then we’d have to worry about our kid floating away.  I had smash her hopes and tell her it wasn’t going to work.  Now you understand why when asked what the first thing she was going to do in heaven was, she immediately responded: “Zipline”.

She was a diehard Yankee fan.  When she was little we took her to a Mets/Yankees game at CitiField, the Mets stadium.  As the game progressed she started to get angrier and angrier.  Not only were some of the fans rooting for the Mets, but the announcers were too!  We had to take her to another Mets/Yankees game at Yankee Stadium to make her happy.  Gabby loved looking forward special days.  She had a little whiteboard in her room, and it was usually used for counting down to important dates.  She loved her birthday more than anything, but a few years back she announced to a party full of guests that the party was over because it was 4 PM and the Yankee game was starting. 

She was incredibly fun and extremely witty and she made us laugh every single day.  She didn’t like the spotlight or a lot of attention – she just liked fun.  She was very adventurous and loved to travel.  When she was little we called her “Go Go Gabby” because she was always on the move.  Since she was diagnosed 21 months ago, we went to LA, North Carolina, Florida, upstate New York, Arizona, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany, and few places I am sure I’ve forgotten.  She would say “when I am healed, I am going to travel the world”, and she meant it.  She was an adventurer.  She was relentlessly positive and totally fearless.  It was like she was just missing certain genes.  She didn’t get sad.  She didn’t care about money at all.  The only time I can recall her crying growing up was when she thought I was mad at her.  That and the time her brother made fun of Katy Perry.  I think she probably cried a grand total of one hour in her 21-month battle with cancer.  When we first found out how bad her prognosis was and told her she might not have long to live, she cried for a few minutes, took a shower, and emerged happy and very much herself. That was Gabby.

Gabby also had a really unshakable faith in Jesus.  As I said, once she makes up her mind about something, it’s settled, and she simply believed Jesus died to save her and she was headed for heaven.  Shortly after she was diagnosed, she chose to be baptized.  We didn’t think she’d get up in front of the church and read her little testimony, but at the last minute she decided to do it.  She expressed her faith in very beautiful, simple, “Gabby-like” terms.  One of her camp counselors, Steph, baptized her.  We thought that would be appropriate because although she’d grown up hearing about God in our home and our church, it was apparent her relationship with Jesus blossomed at camp.

In 2017, Gabby went to camp for two weeks and the speaker was a guy named Wayne Morgan.  At the end of each week he had the kids write letters to their “future selves” about the things they learned at camp, and then they had to wait at least 3 months to open them.  I am going to read one of them to you now.  This was written by Gabby in July of 2017, just before her 14th birthday, a little over eight months before she was diagnosed.

Dear Future Self,

Heyooo! It was a great second week at camp!  This week I learned you need to die to live!  You must put things of this world to death!  Life on the earth is only a short period of time when compared to the time we’re gonna spend in heaven!  You need to trust God has things under control!  Hope your (sic) surviving high school!  - Gabby

Pretty incredible, huh?

I wanted God to do a miracle and heal Gabby so badly.  First and foremost because she has been source of indescribable joy in my life and the thought of going on without her is pretty unbearable.  I can’t even put into words how special our relationship was.  We loved spending time together and just made each laugh all the time.  But secondarily, I’ve been concerned for all of you.  Some of you are devoted people of faith, some of you prayed for the first time ever to ask God to spare Gabby.  I am concerned that people’s hearts would harden to God or become cynical because she didn’t make it.  I want you to consider something for a moment.  I want you to consider that maybe Gabby didn’t GET a miracle because she IS the miracle.  I really believe she was born for this fight.  Let me tell you why.  She never had romantic feelings for boys (or girls, for those wondering about that), never wanted to have kids, and never feared anything in her life other than missing out on something fun.  We are inclined to believe that God knew from the beginning that she would battle this disease and go home at a young age.  We believe that she was put on Earth to be a shooting star to call attention to the goodness of God and shine his light in a blinding fashion, so that many who might have never thought twice about God and his goodness might consider Him, and perhaps reach out to Him and find Him.  Gabby showed us how to trust God in life and in death.

We’ve been saying for a year that we have double hope – hope for healing on this Earth, and the hope of heaven beyond this Earth.  Gabby dying is in some ways a tragedy – but not for her.  It’s a tragedy for all of us who will have to go one without her. I want to assure you today that she is healthier and happier than she’s ever been, and that we have great hope that we will see her again, and we will do so in a context where all of the pain of this world is gone.  I want you to know today that that hope is because of the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. 

People have remarked to us that our faith is so strong or our family is so incredible and so on.  I don’t want anyone to think we don’t appreciate the kind words. We do.  But I want you to know that our faith is not in faith itself, our faith is in the person of Jesus and the God of the Bible.  And I won’t speak for my whole family on this, but I can tell you that I personally don’t have incredibly strong faith.  If fact, I think I’ve got pretty weak faith.  But I think that small amount of faith has been in the right things and the right guy, and God has blown that little faith up and multiplied it and built on it, and He has made us strong.  I’m just a 90 pound weakling spiritually, but I am standing on a stainless steel beam that will be as solid and reliable in a thousand years as it is today.  We’re nothing special.  We trust someone special.  And you can too.  I want you all to know today that the strength, the hope, and the joy we have in the face of the worst thing imaginable today is available to you.  It doesn’t originate with us, it’s not unique to us, it’s not in our DNA.  Reach out to God today and he will meet you.  You can have Gabby’s strength and contentment and fearlessness as you face death.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Trust Jesus.  He wants to know you personally.

I think it’s natural to ask when someone dies young “why did this happen?”  I don’t pretend to have all the answers.  I’ve been saying for a while that God is creating tapestries and all we see is single stitches, but there are a couple of things I’m pretty certain of.  The first thing is that this world is a broken place that can be very painful.  We are all looking for the things that bring happiness; health, wealth, and loving, harmonious relationships.  I’d add another key to happiness and that is a connection to our Creator – to feel his ongoing love and approval.  We can attain these things to varying degrees in this life, but ultimately pretty much everyone is left longing for more.  Sickness, disease, poverty, selfishness, self destructiveness, and broken relationships are everywhere, and at least some of these things will touch all of us and leave all of us wishing life was better.  C.S. Lewis said this: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”  Scripture says this:For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”  Today, Gabby is there, in her permanent home.  So the first reason my 16 YO daughter died of cancer is this: this world is broken and bad things happen in it.  We’re not supposed to feel all that at home here in this broken place.  Heaven is our home.I think another reason Gabby God took Gabby home is that she had a mission on this Earth and that mission is completed.  I think that mission was to show all of you, that is all of US, what childlike faith in Jesus looks like, and to call us to it.  I believe the final part of that mission was to show us how to die gracefully, without fear, because you know you are deeply loved by God and your permanent home awaits.  Gabby’s fearlessness and simple faith was so unusual that it feels like that was something unique to her… but it doesn’t have to be.  That’s Gabby’s message to you today.  You can share her joy and her quiet confidence.My awesome niece made this Team Gabby design, and when we had these shirts made it was because we needed to know we weren’t alone, we needed you to strengthen us, and we desperately wanted you praying for Gabby.  This shirt was focused on Gabby.  It has her picture on it.  Today it holds a different meaning for me.  It doesn’t just say “Gabby”, it says “Team Gabby”.  That’s all of you.  Today I wear this shirt to honor Gabby, but also to honor all of you.  I would never wish what we’ve gone through on anyone, but I’ve also lost count of the silver linings we’ve seen.  When you have a sick kid, you experience the absolute best of humanity.  We literally could not ask for more from our community: our family, our friends, our school district, our church, and other churches in the area like this one.  We love you so much and you have blessed us immensely during the hardest time of our lives.  So I want to do something a little different today – I would like to pray a blessing over all of you.  I want to pray that God blesses your families as you have blessed ours.

*Pray* beauty from ashes, health and prosperity, love and the presence of God,

Jesus said this: Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  What he was saying is that through one persons’ death it is possible for many lives to be transformed.  That from one death can come much life.  It is our genuine hope that the way Gabby lived and the way she died will be transformational for you.  We hope that the simple, genuine faith she had in Jesus is something that others will see the beauty of and want to emulate. The great news I have for you tonight is that everything that made Gabby a fearless and beautiful soul is readily available to you as a gift from God.

January
17
2020

Tonight's Service, Including Live Stream Information

Tonight's service will be livestreamed from the Island Christian Church FB page tonight (link below). It will be recorded as well, but I am unsure whether it will be video or just audio. Visitation begins at 6 EST, the service will start at 7 EST. If you are coming, we recommend carpooling, arriving early, and dressing happy! We will be accepting donations for Maggie's Mission and Team Gabby Gives onsite tonight - we see this as part of Gabby shining on. A lot of beauty came out of her life, and we are believing a lot of beauty will come out of her death as well. Please share this. XOXO Team Gabby

https://www.facebook.com/iccnpt/

January
15
2020

Funeral Details Confirmed, Charitable Donation Details Revealed

The funeral details I posted the other day are confirmed. They are repeated at the end of this post.

We are asking everyone who has been impacted by Gabby or has specific memories of her to share to write or type them for our family to see and keep. There will be scrapbooks to put them in at the viewings and the service. You can also email to dcava@proactivetech.net. Also, there will be christmas lights with clothespins on them at the viewings, the idea being that you can bring pictures to leave with us. Make sure they are copies if you want them for yourself too!

We are requesting in lieu of flowers that donations be made to either of the following charities:

Maggie's Mission - A tremendous local charity that is doing great things to combat pediatric cancer and help families affected by it.

Team Gabby Gives - We are super excited to unveil our own 501c3 non-profit in Gabby's honor! We spoke to Gabby about this over the past year. Her charity will be used to support Christian camps with camper scholarships, building and maintenance projects, and funding counselors and staff missionaries.

You can write checks to either entity. Any cash donations will be split equally between the two organizations unless enveloped and earmarked. To be clear, we feel just as strongly about Maggie's Mission as we do about Team Gabby Gives. Maggie's Mission is also Gabby's mission.

Gabby Cava Homegoing Celebrations aka Funeral Arrangements

Thursday (1/16) - Wake/Viewing
Dix Hills Free Church (28 Foxhurst Rd, South Huntington)
- Noon to 2 PM
- 6 PM to 9 PM

Friday (1/17) - Funeral Service
Island Christian Church (400 Elwood Rd, East Northport)
- 6 PM to 9 PM (Visitation at 6, service starts at 7)

Saturday (1/18) - Prayer Service and Burial (PRIVATE)
Island Christian Church, proceeding to Melville Cemetery

Gabby's one request was the dress code. NO BLACK. Gabby pretty much never wore black. She wants everyone wearing bright, happy colors. "Nice casual" is fine. Extra points for tie dye. I plan on wearing a Team Gabby t-shirt with a blazer on Friday. :)

We recommend carpooling and arriving early on Friday. ICC is a big church, but we doubt it's big enough!

January
13
2020

Gabby Cava Homegoing Celebrations aka Funeral Arrangements (95% confirmed)

Thursday (1/16) - Wake/Viewing
Dix Hills Free Church (28 Foxhurst Rd, South Huntington)
- Noon to 2 PM
- 6 PM to 9 PM
 
Friday (1/17) - Funeral Service
Island Christian Church (400 Elwood Rd, East Northport)
- 6 PM to 9 PM (Visitation at 6, service starts at 7)
 
Saturday (1/18) - Prayer Service and Burial (PRIVATE)
Island Christian Church, proceeding to Melville Cemetery
 
Gabby's one request was the dress code. NO BLACK. Gabby pretty much never wore black. She wants everyone wearing bright, happy colors. "Nice casual" is fine. I plan on wearing a Team Gabby t-shirt with a blazer on Friday. :)
 
We'll be announcing charitable donation information in lieu of flowers. Let's use our money to help people (and not just the florists). :)
 
We recommend carpooling and arriving early on Friday. ICC is a big church, but we doubt it's big enough!