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Cap's Celebration of Life

Linda (Kaywood) Bilyeu is a self-published author. Her books are available on Amazon. She writes from the heart—there is no other way.

I salute YOU, Cap!

I salute YOU, Cap!

Bidding farewell to a loved one doesn't have to be sad, gloomy, dreary and heartbreaking. At least that is the way my husband and I discussed we did not want our farewell to be like. We had both attended enough funerals during our life to know what we wanted and what we didn't want.

We did not want our loved ones shedding tears after we departed. We wanted smiles and laughter. We wanted a celebration of our life, not a mourning of our death. We wanted to be remembered for all the good we did during our life, not for the mistakes we made.

My husband, Dave, passed away on July 6, 2015 from prostate cancer. The cancer that men think is curable and are shocked when they learn that a man died from it. Well, I am here to tell you that even if caught in the early stages prostate cancer is sneaky and mean, so get checked! A PSA and DRE is mandatory for all men over 40 or younger with a family history.

My husband knew my love of writing letters. He knew I would be writing him a letter for his Celebration of Life service once he departed. I made sure and told him what I would include in the letter so that he wouldn't miss out on his tribute.

"Our family"

"Our family"

Celebrate Your Loved Ones

For Dave's Celebration of Life, he wanted it private, with our kids and grandchildren only. We had a festive celebration in his honor. Dave was a meat cutter for Winn Dixie, the company catered a large tray of sandwiches to feed the family, which was very thoughtful.

We wrote messages on the sidewalk using chalk. We all dressed in red, white and blue, the colors of Captain America, Dave's favorite comic book character. We blew bubbles to Cap (Dave). We wrote messages on balloons and sent them to Cap. My daughter facepainted our faces with Captain America shields and symbols.

We had a collage of photos from Dave's life that was shown continuously on the TV. We had cake and ice cream. We shared stories, we laughed, we cried. I read my letter to Dave.

A Celebration of Life doesn't have to cost a fortune when it comes from the heart. Our family granted Cap's wishes and bid him a farewell that also helped to lift our sad hearts.

A Celebration of Life is however you want it to be. There are no rules. How your loved one lived, should be how they are bid a farewell. Dave was a kid at heart, so his celebration was perfect for him. I am sure Dave was waving from above as we were waving from below. I will continue to wave daily.

Dave and Linda - Florida Hospital Video

This letter was written before and after Dave had passed away. Some contents are tongue in cheek, some are humor that only him and I or the family understands. By watching our video above you will understand more about Team Cap.

I share this letter with you to show that when you lose a loved one, it is OK to smile again. It is OK to laugh again. This might not happen easily, but your loved one would want you to keep living while remembering them...this is a promise I made to Dave. I am trying my best to keep my promise.

Letter To My Husband

Hey, Mr. Ligler;

Even though I thanked you quite often while you were in my presence, I will once again show my gratitude via this letter, written from the heart. I cannot thank you enough for how much you enriched my life during our 18 years together. Thank you for all that you have taught me. Most importantly, thank you for creating Sunshine. I was a single mom of two young girls, along with my mother who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. My mom, my best friend was battling the beast. You had been there with your dad, so you understood. It was a rough time in my life, but you became my rock. You stood by me and held me up when I was falling. I am so glad that I thanked you often for becoming my best friend when I needed a friend the most.

When we first met, you were such a grouch, but I kept telling myself surely this man has a cheery side too. I was correct, you just took your job way too seriously. I am still in shock that you never hit on me! You later told me that you had too much respect for me. You also told me that you thought I was Spanish. Hmmm? Made me wonder if you were disappointed that I wasn't...which I later found out that you were just as happy with this Arab chick.

We never did anything in the traditional way. Tradition was boring. We took chances, not foolish ones, sensible ones. One thing we both shared was an abundance of common sense. Maybe a bit too much according to the opinions of others. Another thing we had in common is that we did not give a crap what others thought - we didn't wait for shit to get done, we got shit done!

Sending balloons to Gramps, Dad, Dave, Cap...

Sending balloons to Gramps, Dad, Dave, Cap...

HealGrief Obituary - David Ligler

Cap Is Gone But Never Forgotten

Our favorite story to share is when we got married. Once again we didn't go the traditional route. You needed a tax deduction, I needed health insurance, so we said “I do.” Oh, how I love sharing our hook up story. We took our weekend honeymoon before we got married on the following Monday evening.

We then had our celebration with friends and family the following Sunday. A Tim McGraw concert followed shortly, which we made sure we got seats up close and personal. Our finale was taking the girls to the beach for the weekend. A two week celebration, we knew how to ring in a marriage! Once again, thank you so much for the health insurance and you are welcome for the tax deduction.

There is a similarity between our wedding celebration and your celebration of life. Both events occurred on a Monday and the Celebration was on a Sunday. Coincidence, I am sure, but nonetheless well worth a mention.

Here I am, 12 years after we wed, this time I am traveling solo. We married in our home, it is where you were the happiest, our home is also where I made sure that you peacefully passed away. Today, July 12, 2015 I will celebrate your life with our children and grandchildren. Our home holds many wonderful memories. We shared many fun-filled gatherings with friends and family here. We welcomed grandkids and our children's spouses into our growing family. All of these memorable events in the same zip code!

Two Obit Words: Cap Nap

I believe we come into each other's lives for a reason. No matter how trivial or how crucial the reason is, we meet for a reason. I am so grateful I was part of your life and that you were part of mine. I am thankful that I am able to be part of Erin and Mike's life. I am so thankful for all the little chickies and for the little guy, Nathan (choo-choo) that became part of our family.

Sure, Erin and Jeremy did surprise us all with having 4 chickies in 4 years, they went from JEMEL to CLEM. One day Mich and David will reproduce (I did try to get them to hurry) … our grandchildren brought us so much joy. Faith, our firstborn grandchild did prepare us well for the rest of the grandkids.

Cancer tried to consume the past 7 years of our lives, but cancer did not define who we were. We found laughter even in the darkest moments. Humor was part of our daily regimen. Upon rising and resting, we found a reason to laugh.

We made so many friends along our journey which made the bumps along the way a bit easier to handle. You inspired so many people with your brave fight that your memory will remain in the hearts and minds of others for a long time. Cap lives on is an understatement. Cap is a hero to so many.

Team Cap is indestructible. No barrier of any type could stop me from making sure you had the best care and treatment. Together the two of us fought the war and I believe we won. We won, because even though we were told twice that you had just a short time to live, you beat the odds. We also won because of the way you took control of the situation when you passed. We were never patient people. You never liked to wait, you knew I did not like to wait, so you took back the reigns and said “FU cancer, I am not waiting for you, I am going now!”

Even though you were unresponsive during your last couple of days, your hearing was supposedly still intact...I am sure you were as proud of our offspring as I was, OK, I was probably more proud because I witnessed their actions. I am so thankful for all the help that Carissa gave us. I put her through heck. Bless that woman. I am thankful that David was able to get a ticket for Mich to fly home from Italy the following day to be here us. Bless her too. I am thankful that Mike helped to shave your face and I trimmed your hair before your departure. I am thankful that Jon helped to get you outside once a day to see the sunshine. I am thankful that Mich and Erin were there with me for your exit from this journey into your next one. Sure, our offspring might be a bit damaged now, but hey, good thing they weren't perfect to begin with. As we know, perfection is boring. As you said yourself, “Even Sunshine needs help sometimes” and she sure got it! You were blessed, Cap. I am blessed.

During your final hour on earth, which took us all by surprise, I was so unbelievably proud of you. My heart was so sad, yet it was exploding with pride and anticipation for what Team Cap had in store for next. Your angelic face and aura of peace and tranquility told me that you were OK. Thank you for that thoughtful and irreplaceable gift. You rarely put yourself first, you always thought of others, except with the TV remote, now it is all mine. Oh well.

As we now embark on our separate journeys of helping others, I believe we will cross paths again. How could we not? We are Team Cap and Team Cap lives on. I think of you every single day. I wasn't ready to stop fighting, but I was ready for Cap to rest. Sunshine still has so much fight left in her. You know I could never sit still.

I am thankful beyond words that I was chosen as the one to care for you. I have absolutely no regrets. I learned so many lessons along the way that I will make sure to remind cancer that it does indeed suck.

Rest well, Warrior. Stop by and say hello, but not by flying by and pooping on my head! :)

For your two obit words, I present you with ...”Cap Nap”

Blowing bubbles to Gramps

Blowing bubbles to Gramps

© 2015 Linda Bilyeu

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