This story comes from THE WATCH
‘You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral’
RIDGWAY – Standing behind a lectern flanked by family photos, a teddy bear, a poster featuring the letters of the alphabet swirling above the phrase “A is for Axel,” a Strider bike and just a few of the remote controls Axel Charrette was obsessed by, friends and family shared memories of the sparkling 2-year-old murdered two weeks ago in Sayulita, Mexico.
“I don’t want to say ‘welcome,’” family friend Brian Scranton, who organized Tuesday’s memorial service, told the somber 500-plus crowd gathered at the 4-H Event Center on the Ouray County Fairgrounds, in Ridgway. “No-one wants to be here. But we’re really glad you’re here.”
Roland McCook, former chairman of the Northern Ute Tribe of Ft. Duschene, Utah, and the great-great grandson of legendary Ute Indian Chief Ouray, offered invocations in Ute and common-sense wisdom in English. “Know that all of the should-haves and could-haves don’t matter,” McCook said, regarding events leading to Axel’s death on what had been a joyous family “experiential-learning” trip.
“We know that the minute his heart stopped pumping, he pulled out of his body and he took on the wings of an eagle,” passing “into the next world, where it is calm, where everything is calm and everything is good, where he will wait for his parents to join him,” McCook said.
“He was a little boy who ran, who laughed, who jumped, who did the things little boys do, but he was interrupted. So this young boy has left us behind to deal with earthly matters, and he is now a part of that calm good place.”
Resuming his place at the lectern, Scranton announced that Axel’s father would “come up and do the unimaginable,” and speak about his murdered child.
The sense of calm, of accepting what can’t be changed, continued, as Randy Charrette spoke of two joyous years with Axel, who was born the day after Valentine’s Day, in 2011.
“We fell in love with our little guy,” said Charrette, owner of Peak to Peak Bicycles, in Ridgway, which closed not long before the family embarked on the surfing-and-cycling trip that led them down along the coast of Mexico, with plans to continue further south in months to come.
“I can’t imagine a grief worse than this,” said Charrette, “losing a young child in such a horrible way. There simply are no words to describe what we’re going through.”
A longtime family friend read from the text of a commentary by National Public Radio commentator Aaron Freeman that begins with the words, “You want a physicist to speak at your funeral,” and which had resonated, she said, with Axel’s mother, Jen, a software engineer.
“You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died,” she read. “You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every BTU of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.”
Memories of a full life horrifically cut short sparkled, as friends and family took turns at the microphone.
Randy Charrette’s father remembered his grandson as “one happy kid” who, as an early riser, “probably saw more sunrises in his two years than most people do in a lifetime.” Randy’s sister, who lives in Australia, described a “cheeky” little boy with a smile making him always “look like he’s up to something.”
After inviting mourners to join the family at Top of the Pines for a bonfire, lighting of Chinese lanterns and a Ute blessing ceremony, Scranton summed things up.
“They were trying to show their kids something more than Ridgway,” he said, of Randy and Jen Charrette’s travels with their two sons – Axel and Kalden, who celebrated his eighth birthday three days before his younger brother’s funeral – that took them to two oceans and more than a dozen states, before Axel’s second birthday.
Scranton urged all in attendance to “look to the west” at sunset.
“There will be a comet in the sky,” he said, “for the first time in years.”