A Tribute to Gabriel Gifford Scheller

Fall 06 007

Gabriel Gifford Scheller was born in Neptune, NJ, on November 27, 1984. He was the delight of his family’s life from his earliest days on earth, and welcomed a brother into his heart when he was two-and-a-half years old.

At age four his neurologist suggested IQ testing to get him into kindergarten early because he was so bright. His parents complied and were a bit stunned at the results. He was published for the first time that year in Highlights for Children magazine. He wrote this poem about being a different color than his family:

” A rock is a rock.

You don’t get different;

you just stay the way you are.”

Gabriel performed in his first play in 1st grade at Antrim Elementary School in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. The play was “The Little Red Hen.” It was an after-lunch classroom performance that his mother missed because she had fallen asleep with Gabe’s little brother. He never let her forget it. There would be many other plays, most of them at Trinity Bible Church, under the direction of Angela Derby and Cherie Carl. Gabe’s comedic gifts were first exercised formally at TBC.

In second grade, he and his family moved to the ethnically diverse city of Long Branch, NJ, and Gabe entered the Gifted and Talented magnet program the following year. He was published in Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Junior magazine sometime after that. (This work is temporarily MIA.)

He began playing the clarinet and then the saxophone in 3rd grade at the behest of his parents … and always insisted he would never thank them for the privilege. This discipline afforded him the opportunity to perform with the Long Branch High School Marching Band at 1-2 Yankees playoff games, a world series game and a Yankees ticker-tape parade.

Beginning in elementary school and into high school, Gabe played baseball with little success, but much enjoyment.

His creative gifts were extensive. From early childhood into adulthood, he made cards and gifts for his family. His cards were always brimming with wit and humor. His artistic creations were elaborate, such as a lifelike origami replica of his dad and a polymer baby Jesus that adorns our family creche. He also wrote and performed many skits and began writing a novel while still in high school.

Gabriel’s generosity came naturally and began early. He began working at 14 years old, and delighted in purchasing deeply thoughtful gifts for the people he loved.

From the middle of 5th grade through 8th grade, Gabe was homeschooled along with his brother and we enjoyed many off-season trips together as a family. He also spent many hours working with his dad and grandpa renovating their rental properties. We called it wood shop. He spent the summer before his freshman year of college working for his grandfather as an iron worker tying steel on a major railroad bridge project in Newark, NJ.

Gabriel was a varsity scholar in high school and was inducted into the National Honor Society as a junior. He needed a sponsor and chose Reverend Elmer Jackson, president of West Side Christian Academy and summer camp in Redbank, NJ. Reverend Jackson strode regally to the stage in in his purple and gold kente cloth attire at the induction ceremony. Gabe followed and thought it would be funny to purposely fall down the steps as he exited the stage. He got a lot of laughs, a sprained ankle and a stern lecture from mom.

In his recommendation letter, Reverend Jackson said this about Gabriel:

“Gabe never complains, he accepts challenges readily and undertakes his assignments with an infectious enthusiasm. During our after-school homework club, Gabe has demonstrated great capacity to explain academic concepts to our students. He demonstrates the needed patience required for our special students while he works in class or during play breaks. His service has been deeply appreciated here. Gabe is one of the finest young men that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His work ethic is inspiring. Our organization and students (who actually stand up and cheer, if they get the chance, when Gabe arrives) are the better because of him.”

During the summers that Gabe volunteered, Bruce Springsteen took Reverend Jackson’s small group of campers to lunch and then into his studio to record some songs. Gabriel participated in two of these recording sessions. (The recordings are also MIA.)

As a high school senior in California, Gabe began working at Boomers Amusement Park in Irvine. He returned to this job when he was home from college on summer and winter breaks (except for the summer when he taught film at Camp Winnebago in Fayette, Maine). He interned at the TV Guide Network during his summers at home.

At Wheaton College, Gabe was well known for his infectious personality and creativity. He recruited friends to perform in his films, wrote and performed a thoughtful rap for a chapel service and competed in the annual talent show. As a sophomore, when his friends were caught in the infamous televised girls’ soccer game streaking incident, Gabe willingly confessed his supporting role. He used his creative gifts to provocatively challenge racial apathy and injustice in this community. As a member of GUP (Global Urban Perspectives), Gabe found friendship, camaraderie and an outlet for his passion.

One professor wrote this in an email: “[Gabe] was one of my most creative and talented students. I thought of him often and wondered what he would do with his many interests.  We shared many discussions in my office of his hopes and disappointments, and, as you know, he was a young man that had far more going for him than he could understand at the moment.  I’m saddened that we do not get to see the outcome of maturation. I was confident that passing through this particular stage of questioning and struggling, he would flourish, not in spite of, but because of the fortitude and pursuit required.”

After graduation, Gabriel worked as a manager at Boomers and then briefly as a car salesman. In February, he went to work for his dad at AllBrand Windows and sold 65 windows to his first customer. On March 22, he performed with great success at the Belly Room at the world-famous Comedy Store in LA. The club management did not believe that Gabe had never before performed stand-up comedy professionally. He was in final rounds of consideration for an upcoming season of MTV’s The Real World and will appear in an episode of MTV’s Next this summer.

Gabe’s gifts and accomplishments extend far beyond this summary and begin and end with his love for others, as evidenced by this music review that was published in the Asbury Park Presswhen he was 13 years old:

It Will Survive! Gettin’ jiggy with that ’70s music

“‘ We are Family,’ ‘Play that Funky Music,’ ‘Macho Man,’ and the ‘Hustle.’

These songs were the ‘Macarenas’ of the 70s. On ‘Pure Disco 2,’ there is a truckload of ‘I loved this song when I wa your age’ music.

I was at The Wiz with my mom and my brother. My mom was checking out the CDs while I was playing a kickin’ game of MDR on Playstation there.

My little brother came running over and said, ‘Gabe, guess what? Mom is buying ‘Pure Disco 2.’

I have to say that I was kind of shocked. I know my mom is weird, but this was pretty extreme even for her.

‘Well,’ I thought, ‘here comes another one of her dumb CDs.’

We got home and my mom put ‘Pure Disco 2’ in the CD player right away.

‘I Will Survive’ started playing and she went nuts. She started dancing like only my mom can, yelling and singing with the song.

I thought it was really stupid at first, but then I thought it looked kind of fun to dance like that.

Soon I joined her and we were dancing together. The music finished and I was out of breath, but it was a lot of fun.

Anyway, the CD was really cool. It has a lot of keep-your-feet-moving kind of music, which surprised me.

I recommend ‘Pure Disco 2’ to anyone who likes to dance. It is really a bust-a-move kind of CD.”

Update 5/8/03:

I neglected to expound upon a defining element of Gabe’s life. He was a Christian. As an infant, he was dedicated to the Lord by his parents. He made a private confession of faith as a child and later chose to be baptized by immersion at Trinity Bible Church. In high school, he was a member of the Long Branch chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and was the student leader of the club in his senior junior year.

On the day Gabriel died, he made a public profession of his love for Jesus when a woman came into his workplace to evangelize the sales team. Rob Speight, the former TBC pastor who married Gabe’s parents and dedicated him to the Lord, flew to the service in NJ from Chicago (along with his wife Chris) and prayed the final burial prayer committing Gabe’s body to the ground and his spirit to our Lord.

Grieving a Suicide


Wheaton College professor John Walford gave a passionate testimony about his brushes with suicide at a recent Wheaton chapel service. There have been three recent alumni suicides in the past year, and the university is rightly concerned about a trend that reflects an alarming three-fold increase in youth suicide. 

While I commend both the university in its desire to address the issue with a strong exhortation and Dr. Walford for his transparency, the message fell short in that it lacks the expert advice that might have provided students with consolation, deeper understanding and tangible help.

Today I’d like to commend to you InterVarsity Press editor and Christianity Today columnist Al Hsu’s excellent book, Grieving a Suicide. I met Al in February at the National Pastors’ Convention and noticed this book on a display table. After Gabe’s death and before we left for the services in New Jersey, I asked him to send me a copy. It was waiting for me when we returned to California. I’m reading it for the second time and ordered 10 more copies for family and friends. (I received the shipment yesterday and will distribute the books forthwith.)

Al’s book is dedicated to his father, Terry Tsai-Yuan Hsu, an accomplished electrical engineer who took his own life after a debilitating stroke. Al brings to the topic both a survivor’s understanding and good scholarship.

The book is divided into three parts:

  • When Suicide Strikes—Shock, Turmoil, Lament, Relinquishment and Remembrance
  • The Lingering Questions—Why Did this Happen? Is Suicide the Unforgivable Sin? Where is God When it Hurts?
  • Life after Suicide—The Spirituality of Grief, The Healing Community, The Lessons of Suicide.


In Part I, we learn that “the grief that suicide survivors experience is described by psychologists as ‘complicated grief.’ … Those of us who experience complicated bereavement are actually grappling with two realities, grief and trauma. Grief is normal; trauma is not. The combination of circumstances is like a vicious one-two punch. We are grieving the death of a loved one, and we are reeling from the trauma of suicide. The first is difficult enough; the second may seem unbearable.”

Al categorizes the resultant turmoil as follows:

  1. Shock, disbelief and numbness–“‘The immediate response to suicide is total disbelief,’ writes a suicide survivor. ‘The act is so incomprehensible that we enter into a state where we feel unreal and disconnected.'”
  2. Distraction—“Friends of survivors may need an extra measure of patience … traumatic grief has caused an inability to focus.”
  3. Sorrow and Despair—“Survivors often fall into a state of melancholy and depression … In some ways we may unconsciously identify with the hopelessness that precipitated our loved one’s death.”
  4. Rejection and Abandonment—“Suicide feels like a total dismissal, the cruelest possible way a person could tell us that they are leaving us behind … So we feel abandoned. Our sense of self-worth is crippled. All our doubts and insecurities are magnified a hundred-fold.”
  5. Failure—“Feelings of failure may surface any time a survivor had a caretaking role … Our feelings of regret and guilt may seem overwhelming, but they eventually subside as we realize the death was not our fault.”
  6. Shame—“Beyond the combination of normal grief and traumatic grief, survivors of suicide suffer an additional insult to injury—the societal stigma that surrounds suicide.”
  7. Anger, Rage and Hatred—“We may hate our loved one for doing this to our loved one. We grieve the suicide and rage against him simultaneously.”
  8. Paralysis—“A simple phone call had triggered an anxiety-filled reaction.”
  9. Sleeplessness—“We lie awake, with our thoughts flying in all directions.”
  10. Relief–“About half of suicides are at least somewhat expected due to ongoing depression or patterns of self-destructive behavior. In our sadness, we are shocked to discover that we are glad it’s all over.”
  11. Self-destructive thoughts and feelings—“One danger of being a suicide survivor is the possibility of falling into suicidal despair.”

In the chapter from Part II on remembrance, Al offers this helpful advice:

“Because of the corrosive, personality-altering nature of suicidal depression, ‘by the time suicide occurs, those who kill themselves may resemble only slightly children or spouses once greatly loved and enjoyed for their company.’ The days, weeks and years following a suicide may be a time of gradually recovering the memories of our loved one, of discovering true and lasting remembrances of their life.”

The chapter I have most marked up is the Why chapter. From our first conversation at 5:00 in the morning after Gabe died, Aaron Kheriaty gently but firmly instructed us that the suicide will never make sense. And yet we try …

Al writes, “We must make a distinction between causes and triggers. Suicide might be triggered by divorce or the loss of a job, but those may not be the actual causes … Suicidal desires run much deeper, and if one event does not trigger the suicide, another might.”

Nonetheless there are some defining characteristics:

  1. Medical and biological factors—“Studies show that about two-thirds of suicides had suffered from clinical depression or had a history of chronic mental illness.”
  2. Psychological factors—“Psychiatrist Karl Menninger suggested that suicides have three interrelated and unconscious dimensions: a wish to kill (the self), due to some degree of self-hatred; a wish to die, arising out of a sense of hopelessness; and a wish to be killed, coming from a sense of guilt. …  The agony of depression is so great that the suicide musters the resolve to do away with the pain, at the expense of his or her own life.”
  3. Sociological factors—“In the last quarter-century, society has tilted toward the individual rather than the communal … The glue that holds communities and families together is disappearing … [Suicide] rates among the young, more socially alienated generations have tripled … The more socially isolated we become, the higher our risk.”

Al mentions other factors like suicide as philosophical protest, the higher tendency toward depression/suicide in those with artistic temperaments, suicide because of grief (eg. 9/11 survivors) and suicide as atonement.

He says we may be asking the why question when what we really want to know is How could they do this to me?  For him, it is helpful to realize that his father “did what he did to end his pain, not to cause pain for me.” 

Each life and death is both common and unique. Dr. Walford’s experience with the temptation toward suicide sounds familiar and yet very different from Gabe’s. He communicated it in his chapel message through the lens of spiritual battle. That is one lens. The context of Gabriel’s death reads to me like a perfect storm of contributing factors. I see his suicide through a compound lens.

Walford chose a route to suicide that allowed him the opportunity to come to his senses. Gabe did not. Is one man more spiritual than the other because of method or outcome? I think not.

In Part III of Grieving a Suicide, Al talks about life after suicide. In the chapter on the healing community, he gives good advice on the language we use to describe suicide. Instead of saying someone “committed suicide” as if the victim were a criminal, we can say they died by suicide or they took their own life.

The final chapter offers five lessons we can learn from suicide:

  1. Suicide reminds us that we live in a fallen world.
  2. Suicide teaches us that life is uncertain.
  3. Suicide reminds us of our mortality.
  4. Suicide shows us the interconnectedness of humanity. Al was surprised to discover how well regarded his father was by his peers and what a profound impact his good gifts had on them. He and his family were comforted by the outpouring of support they received. We’ve had these experiences as well.
  5. Suicide demonstrates the necessity of hope. Amen and amen.

Our family has been mercifully spared much insensitivity and ignorance in the wake of this tragedy. I can’t imagine going through this without the wise counsel of those who’ve walked the road before. Grieving a Suicide is a book I don’t ever want to recommend again because doing so would mean someone else enduring this type of senseless tragedy. And yet, a suicide occurs every 17 minutes in the United States.

If you are a pastor or lay minister, prepare yourself with knowledge before you try to minister to the grieving and confused. This book will help you do that; it includes a helpful appendix of suicide prevention/survival resources. If you are a survivor, it will be a balm to your soul.

Thanks Al!

[photo ©cas 2007: sunrise at Mustard Seed Ranch, Warner Springs, CA]

Celebrating Gabe Fridays

Our friend Lenny Bernotas, pastor of Trinity Bible Church, preached a powerful sermon at Gabe’s memorial service called “Grace for Gabriel.” One of the many things that stuck with me from the message was Lenny’s admonition to remember how Gabe lived, rather than how he died. He quoted from Philippians 4:8

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

What good advice …  wisdom from God … wise, peaceable, etc.

Today is five weeks. I’d like to redeem this anniversary by dedicating it to a celebration of Gabe’s life and legacy. I’ll begin with a poem I wrote about him 10 years ago. Next Friday, I’ll post some work of Gabe’s—a poem, rap, cartoon or video. Something that celebrates his life and incredible gifts. But first …


You came sparkling into the world,

a firecracker bursting multicolored across the sky,

your soft brown skin glowing with delight at

everything your eyes beheld—

I loved you from the first.

You spoke in sentences sweet

when barely a year had passed,

and when the wedding bells did ring

a granite floor was laid beneath your tiny feet.

The Lord has made a miracle,

he’s made one bright and true;

he sent it shining through the night

to come reside with us.

Never from that swollen golden crimson time

until this frozen grey has

my heart known a moment without

beating just for you.

[original poem © cas, 1998]

[photo: Making Scary Faces with Mom, Fairless Hills, PA, 1986]


You Are the God Who Sees

Jeff\'s Graduation

Jeff and I were on staff together at our former church with pastor and worship leader Holland Davis. With no direction and little notice, Holland agreed to provide music at Gabe’s service in California. His ministry to us was tender and beautiful.  This song was one of two he sang in addition to the gentle guitar strumming that filled the sanctuary at various places in the service. The other song is called “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go.” Holland tells me it hasn’t been recorded yet. I hope he’s working on that.

Doing Well

From the beginning of this tragedy, people have remarked at how well my family is handling it. The other day, I joined the chorus and told Jeff he was doing really well for somebody who had never before experienced the sudden death of an immediate family member. He said, “I know my Redeemer lives and I’m not doing as well as you think.” I fully concur with his sentiments.

Having said that, there are some explanations for why we are doing as well as we are.

First, friends who’ve lost children have told us that the six month point is when the reality really hits hard. We are still in a good deal of shock, thank God, and fully expect things to get worse before they get better.

Second, we’ve been through hell as a family over the past five years. Gabe’s death feels like the horrific end to the whole terrible ordeal. As I wrote about last year in Christianity Today, Jeff and I left full time ministry primarily because our boys were not doing well. They were both struggling in numerous ways. They needed some TLC and we rented our lovely little overpriced apartment with the pool and palm trees as a place of respite for them.


[Irvine, CA, 2007]

When Gabe came home last summer after graduating from college, we had a blow-out one day about I don’t remember what. He dumped his feelings about these years and said something about having wanted to kill himself while he was at school. Contrary to what I told The Wheaton Record in the disoriented days after Gabe’s death, he never said when these thoughts began or how long they lasted. I took him seriously, but mistakenly believed that he would be okay now that he was home. After all, we had all experienced these fleeting thoughts in the midst of our trials and a primary source of his pain and stress was gone.

For a while, Gabe appeared to settle into normal life. More recently, I had become concerned again, and had suggested counseling. We tried to encourage him to find a faith community for support and friendship. His one attempt involved a conversation with a pastor who disparaged his beloved parents’ decision to become Anglicans. Jeff took him under his wing and gave him a job so that he could help him get off the ground financially and support him emotionally. We worshiped together at home on Easter Sunday.

We did everything we knew how to do to help Gabe. I can rack my brain all day and night about my own failings and the warning signs we missed, but I know that we gave our all to loving him and caring for him. Even in his desperate state, he was able to leave behind the words, “Dad, you are my hero,” “Mom, you were a great mom” and “Mike, you were my best friend growing up,” etc. Imagine if we had this outcome with angry words left behind. Gabe loved us and we loved him to the end. There is peace because of this. There is also great pain in knowing that our love wasn’t enough to save him.

[Winward Beach, Brick, NJ, 1985]

The third reason we are doing as well as we are is that Gabe always seemed to have a precarious hold on this world. He had his first serious asthma attack when he was 13 months old, 3 days before Jeff and I were married. I was calling the doctor all day long because he was breathing funny and was listless. She kept saying she was too busy to see him, but finally agreed as the day drew to a close. When she listened to his lungs, a look of terror crossed her face and she sent us immediately to the emergency room. Gabe spent the next 5 days in an oxygen tent.

There would be many such terrifying moments over the years, the last of which was 3.5 years ago. I had to fly to Chicago as Gabe was being placed in an ambulance with his lungs on the verge of collapse. I didn’t know if he would be alive when I got there. As I flew through the sky, I imagined what I would do if I was greeted with news of his death.

Gabriel had other physical traumas. The most serious was a brain injury a couple months after this last life-threatening asthma attack. It was 2 days before Christmas, 2004. As Jeff and I waited at home to decorate the tree, Gabe and Mike went to the mall to buy their dad a present. They returned bloodied and with Gabe incoherent and unable to remember the details of his life. They had been assaulted in a dispute over a parking spot. Gabe was knocked backwards to the ground. Because of his NF, the soft spot on the back of his head had never closed. A palm-sized area of his brain was exposed. It took him nearly a week to regain his memory and for a long time afterwards he said he didn’t feel like himself. But then, as always, he seemed to bounce back.

The point is that Gabe lived his whole life in the shadow of death. We lived in that shadow with him. We know we will see him again. The time doesn’t seem so far off to me and the loss is too recent for the ache to have really settled in. It comes over us in huge waves and then passes for a while. Also, I’ve lost many friends and a father when I was just a girl. Issues of mortality don’t weigh heavily on my mind. I’ve always known this life is but a moment. Perhaps Jeff has known it too from living with Gabe and me.

A fourth reason we are doing well is because we have to. We have another child whose whole identity is altered. It has always been Gabe and Mike. No other person has lived Mike’s experiences with him in the way Gabe did. He needs us to lead the way through this. We’re determined that this tragedy not destroy him or us.

[Pumpkin Picking, Wall, NJ, 1988]

Finally and most importantly, there is the comfort of the Holy Spirit. From the early moments after the police left our home, a verse of Scripture kept washing over my brain: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. I was assured of God’s compassion for Gabe. The story of David’s response to his son’s death also impressed upon my mind. I identify with him in my better moments. He said, While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, “Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live. But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again. I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. (2 Sam. 12:22-23)

Gabriel’s whole life was bathed in prayer. His was a long, intense struggle for such a short life. He overcame tremendous obstacles while he lived, more than most of us will ever have to face. When he died, for days, I kept saying, “My poor baby; my poor baby.” What pain he had to be in to do such a thing. He is at peace now. I’d much rather have him present with us and working through his struggles, but that option is past. As I wrote in Gabe’s obituary, our sorrow is  surpassed only by the joy it was to have shared our lives with him. We will miss him every day of our lives, but we will live them with faith, hope and love. That’s what he would want.


[Atlantic Avenue Beach, Long Branch, NJ 2000]

Four Weeks

It’s been nearly four weeks. Still, I cannot comprehend it. A person who was so full of life lost hope and believed that he had no future in this world.  Jeremiah 29:11 was the Scripture that reassured me when I was a 20 year old single mother. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” 

For some years, I believed the future and hope described in this promise meant a fairy tale ending in this life. Eventually I came to view the verse in light of eternity. Thus I was able to reclaim the promise as we laid Gabe to rest. 

  [thanks to my friend Gary Gnidovic for directing me to this video]

Marathon Update

In the week after Gabe’s death, we were asked on several occasions if we really preferred a donation to the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) to flowers. We said yes. I’d like to publicly thank the following parties for responding with generous donations:

Mr. and Mrs. Scott Friedman

The Long Branch High School Band Parents Association

Ms. Dorothy Hendricks

Ms. Janice Del Rossi

Mr. John Charles Allen

Mr. and Mrs. Ken VanWingerden

The Art VanWingerden family

Mr. Nathan Smith, Ms. Connie Smith, Joshua Smith and Danny Smith

Mr. and Mrs. Tony Butcher

Ms. Ruth Ann Allen

Alica and Don Bean

(If there are others, I’ll add their names as I am notified.)

5/2/08 Additions:

Ms. Anne Kohut

Mr. Jim Pickel


Mr. and Mrs. William Job

Stephen, Gail, Tamara and Daniel Corti


Margaret and John Lavaggi


Linda and Frank Allen

David Fry

Bob and Karin Gaspartich


Berniece and Seongbin Pak


Mr. John V. Andres

Mr. D. Davis

Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Stitz




The Children’s Tumor Foundation was a godsend to me when Gabriel was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF) at 6 months old. It provided information and hope that research was being conducted into this little-understood, but common disease. I had not kept up with the foundation’s work in the past 10 years because NF seemed not to be a big part of Gabe’s life. 

My interest in the work of CTF was rekindled this year by an encounter with an NF patient, by a minimal increase in Gabe’s symptoms and by a scientific discussion of an NF researcher’s stem cell findings. Gabe’s brother Mike and I decided to enter the Long Beach Marathon to raise money for CTF. (Mike will be a cyclist and I will walk/jog.)

Amongst the many questions we’ve asked ourselves in the past three weeks is what role NF played in Gabe’s depression. Yesterday, I did an internet search to see if any correlation exists between NF and mental illness. This possibility had never been mentioned by any physician or other resource I encountered.  Here is a summary of what I found:

“Many childhood psychiatric and behavioural disorders have

been associated with NF1. These include social problems, anxiety

and depression, social withdrawal, aggressiveness, obsessive

compulsiveness, and somatic complaints (Varnhagen et al.

1988, Spaepen et al. 1992, Johnson et al. 1999). Children with

NF1 are thought to be at special risk for attention-deficit–hyperactivity

disorder (ADHD; North 1997), with rates of at least 33%

being suggested (Kayl et al. 2000). Hyperactivity, reduced ability

to concentrate, and also sleep disturbances were the most

common problems reported by parents of children with

NF1 (Wadsby et al. 1989). Difficulties might be persistent, as

Samuelsson and Riccardi (1989) reported that 33% of adults

with NF1 experienced mental illness and that sleep disturbance

(‘reduced sleep’) featured prominently.”

Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 2005, 47: 237–242 237

We believe many factors contributed to Gabe’s depression, and will never know for sure if NF was one of them. Nonetheless, Mike and I are entering the Long Beach Marathon with renewed motivation. Mike has already recruited some friends to ride with him and I’ve solicited my first sponsor. So, now you know why these donations to CTF mean so much to us and why Mike and I are pressing ahead with the marathon.

Sponsorship information will follow at a later date. If you don’t want to wait, you can make a donation in Gabe’s honor today.

Gabriel’s Memorial Service: Dr. Aaron Kheriaty

I am posting this video, despite the fact that it somehow got rotated. (We’ll try to correct the problem.) Turn your computer sideways or close your eyes and listen.

Update 7/9/08: A friend kindly rotated this video for me, but YouTube uploaded the uncorrected version sideways anyway. If you know a solution, please email me at exploring.intersections@yahoo.com.

God bless you, Aaron.

Thank You

Dear Family and Friends,

Words cannot express our gratitude for the love that has buoyed us up over the past week. The tributes to Gabe here and elsewhere have helped soften a very harsh reality. How we go on, we’ve no idea, other than one moment at a time by the grace of God.

People have asked us repeatedly why Gabe took his own life. There is no satisfactory answer to the question. That he was clinically depressed was obvious from the letters he left behind, if less so from his daily interaction with those around him. Gabriel had many medical problems and life stressors that may have predisposed him to a condition that he hid well from most (and clearly didn’t understand himself).

A week before Gabe’s death, he performed with great success at The Comedy Store in LA. Before he walked out the door last Friday evening, he had an ordinary conversation with his dad about a sales appointment he had scheduled for the following day. I saw something in his countenance that concerned me and asked him what was wrong. He brushed the question aside. I told him I loved him … and then he was gone.

When we return to California, I will be seeking permission to post the message given by a speaker whose voice was heard at both services for Gabe. He understands these things better than most and was at our house within an hour of the public officials who filled our home with the awful news. His words continue to minister to us all.

Some of you are surely wondering how Gabe’s brother is doing. Mike is doing remarkably well. He is talking and engaging with others, and has been a comfort to his family. He will receive professional care when we get home.

Going home to our little apartment will be the test for all of us, as we try to pick up the pieces of our lives yet again.  We trust your prayers will be with us in those lonely days.

I would like to leave you with the words of Psalm 103:1-14, which I have meditated upon continually this week.

 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget none of his benefits;

who forgives all your iniquities,
   who heals all your diseases;

who redeems your life from the pit,
   who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
who satisfies your years with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

The LORD performs righteous deeds
   and judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
   his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

 He will not always strive with us,
   nor will he keep his anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
   nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his lovingkindness toward those who fear him.

As far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
   he is mindful that we are but dust.


Gabriel Gifford Scheller

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Gabriel Gifford Scheller, 23, of Irvine, CA, died on March 28. He spent his formative years in Long Branch, NJ, and graduated from Wheaton College in May 2007.

Gabriel is survived by his parents, Jeffrey and Christine Scheller; his brother Michael William Scheller; grandparents Richard and Carol Gifford, Regis Allen and William and Viola Scheller—along with many beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

Gabe was a remarkable young man who was loved every day of his life; he will be missed every day of ours. The only thing that surpasses our grief is the joy that it was to have been gifted with him and the sure knowledge that he is safe in the arms of our Lord.

In lieu of flowers, we request a memorial donation to the Children’s Tumor Foundation .

California services are private.

New Jersey services will be at Trinity Bible Church, Allenwood, NJ, on Thursday April 3, with viewing from 3:30-7:30 and a service to follow immediately after; and Friday morning at 11 am.

UPDATE 4/03: For those wishing to attend the burial service on Friday, the funeral procession is scheduled to leave Trinity Bible Church at 11am.

A Tribute to Gabriel Gifford Scheller, honoring his life and achievements.

Remembering Gabe on Facebook

An Archive of Gabe’s Poetry and Art

In the Valley of the Shadow of Suicide, Christianity Today, April 2009