Funeral Service for Ryder Cannon

Following my post about my experience photographing the passing of Heart Warrior, Ryder Cannon, his mother, Jessie, asked me to take some pictures of the funeral service honoring his life and at the cemetery.

The service took place where Jessie grew up, Orem, Utah, at an LDS church building.

The foyer was displayed with items in remembrance of Ryder, including printed photos, stuffed animals, baby shoes, albums, super hero capes, a slideshow, etc.

I learned some fun new facts about Ryder during the service, especially during his life sketch given by Dr. David K. Bailly, DO, Ryder's Doctor.   

1.  Not surprisingly, the first thing the nurse said when Ryder was born was, "Look at those eyelashes!"

2.  "Ryder was able to attend church only one time with his family and it lasted all of 15 minutes." Dr. Bailly joked, "Jesse, there are easier ways to get out of church."

3.  Ryder lived up to both his first and his last name.  Ryder, meaning Knight or Mounted Warrior, and Cannon.

4.  Ryder underwent multiple procedures and surgeries including a first time ever procedure for Primary Children's Hospital. "We were constantly inspired by his valiant effort and pushed to reach new levels of excellence. Ryder’s life will forever bless the lives of other children with heart disease," Dr. Bailly explained

I took notes on the things that struck me during the talks.  Here is a bit from each speaker:

Dr. David K. Bailly, DO, Ryder's Doctor
I loved when Dr. Bailly explained the meaning of a "full life."  Besides thinking of Ryder, it made me think about my other friends who have lost children.  He willingly allowed me to share his words:

"Ryder lived a full life. Many people measure the fullness of life by quantity or quality. While it is amazing to live to be a hundred, and it is amazing to have traveled the world and summited exotic peaks, Ryder teaches us that fulfilling the measure of our creation goes beyond the dimensions of quantity and that our barometer of quality may need to be recalibrated. Jesus Christ, the Savior of this world and the Redeemer of each of lived only to the age of 33 and never traveled much beyond the borders of where he was born. Ryder, and our Savior offer to each of us that life is even more precious than simply the days it occupies or the feats we achieve. Our lives, like the Savior’s and like Ryder’s, are full of meaning because of the sacrifice and love we give to those around us."

Melanie Kilbourne, Jessie's Aunt
Melanie explained that her talk was for Ryder's siblings, but the adults could listen if they wanted to.  First she talked about how it is okay to cry, now or even in several months from now.  Crying makes us feel better.  Another thing that makes us feel better is talking and communicating how we feel (I had an image of myself at 2:00AM on the night Ryder passed, sitting at my computer desk, sobbing, and typing out what had happened... not knowing why, except that it made me feel better).  Melanie pointed out that you may have some questions about what happened, for example:
  • Why didn't Ryder get better?
  • Where is Ryder now?
  • Will I ever see him again?
She explained these answers so clearly for the children (If you would like to read more on her answers for Ryder and every other person, click here).

I also liked the clear and simple truth that when Ryder is resurrected, his heart will not longer be broken. 

Matthew Cannon, Sam's Brother
Sam's brother talked about when him and Sam were kids.  Sam earned the nickname "Muley" because he was the toughest of the three brothers.  Whether it was bailing hay or cleaning out the chicken coop, Sam was the strongest, and he had the most endurance (but you didn't hear it from me... Sorry, Matthew, I am out of the circle-of-trust ;) ).  Matthew related how Ryder had that same quality, passed down from his father.  

He talked about how Christ knows what we are going through, we just need to go to Him in prayer. 

Matthew also talked about the importance of the family unit.  He quoted some of these inspired words.

There were also some beautiful musical numbers between speakers.  The congregation tearfully sang A Child's Prayer, Kaitlin Kilbourne played a peaceful rendition of I Feel My Savior's Love on the piano, Ashlie Thomson beautifully sang I Need Thee Every Hour, and as a closing hymn, the children, including Ryder's siblings and cousins, steadfastly sang I Am a Child of God.

Following the service, a firetruck and ambulance helped lead the procession to the cemetery.

Following the dedication of the grave, family and friends joined in launching colorful balloons to Heaven in honor of Ryder.

Ryder's brother wasn't quite ready to send his balloon, so he held onto it for a while.

Whenever I attend a funeral, I am amazed at how composed the family seems in just days or the week following the death of their loved one.  I have seen this on multiple occasions.  There were even moments where the family could laugh and smile.  I think this must only be possible through the knowledge they have.  They know that their loved one lives on, in the best of care, and that they will see them again.

On the way home, I stopped at the Mount Timpanogos Temple, where Taylor and I were sealed.  I have been meaning to get a shot of it for my family room.  The temple was closed, but I had the chance to walk around the grounds a little bit.  I can always feel such a calming spirit when I am there.  With this experience with Ryder, I have been thinking a lot about my own family.  I am so thankful that we have the opportunity to be together, as a family, forever.

*If you would like to make a donation to the Cannon Family, large or small, click here.