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Crime victims have the right to submit what are known as victim impact statements, and most State Attorney’s Offices strongly encourage victims to exercise this important right. Check with your local State Attorney’s Office to find out more information about the process in your state.

What is a victim impact statement?

In an impact statement, a victim provides an explanation of how the crime affected you, your family, or even your community. Statements should include:

  • A “brief” summary of the harm or trauma suffered by the victim or family as a result of the crime.
  • A summary of the economic loss or damage suffered by the victim as a result of the crime. Include requests for restitution for out-of-pocket expenses.
  • A concise statement of what outcome the victim would like and the reasons to support this opinion, including support for or opposition to treatment or community service programs.
  • Highlights about the victim, past accomplishments, hopes for the future, and what the crime has done to change these activities.
  • The overall effect the crime has had on the victim and family.

Why is a victim impact statement so important?

After a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty of a crime, a Judge sentences the defendant. The Judge responsible for sentencing the defendant reads and considers victim impact statements before setting the sentence.

What else should I know about victim impact statements?

A victim impact statement submitted to the Court becomes part of the criminal case file. As a result, everyone involved in the case will receive a copy, including the Judge, prosecutor, defendant, defense lawyer, and probation officer.

Sample Letter #1

On May 28th, 1995, my one and only hero was born. Two weeks later, overdue, nine pounds, after a trip down Flying Cow Road, my mother went into labor. That very day, I officially became James’ sister. As my brother started to walk, he was so fascinated with animals, especially reptiles, anything that was associated with nature. Around eighteen months, curious James wandered off on his own and fell into our pond. My father immediately jumped into the pond to rescue James as my mother dialed 911. The ambulance arrived at our home and transported my brother to Palms West Hospital. We thought he was dead, but thankfully he survived. Yet that feeling of almost losing my brother never left me and now this is my reality. During my brother’s teenage years is when I started to realize that James was truly the ideal son. James never did drugs, always obeyed the rules, never broke curfew, and always cared about school. His friends were his world and video games were his passion. My brother waited until he was in his later teens to date the Defendant who identifies herself as per her gaming profile “Hell Raiser.”

When I became aware that my brother had started dating, I was happy for him. Happy for the fact that my brother would now know what it was like to love and to be loved and to know that he was becoming a young man. It was not until mid-way through the relationship that I suspected the defendant, Melanie Eam, to hold ill will. James shared with me that they were having typical relationship issues and his friends were voicing their concerns to him, and as any newbie to dating, he then voiced his concerns to Melanie, which struck a nerve in her that led her to pouring a half a gallon of bleach into my brother’s best friend Jeff’s fish tank, killing the fish with NO remorse, no regard, not a care in the world. Being the older protective sister that I was, I expressed my concerns to James, advising that it is not normal human behavior and that he needs to assess his relationship with her. James became single for some time, and I was relieved and figured my brother would move on. Well, that was not the case for James. He wanted his relationship to work and decided to give it a second chance as any young man in love would do.

The time now is August 17th, three months to the day before my brother was murdered, was the last conversation I had with James. I, myself was in a mentally abusive relationship at the time that I was able to escape from with the help of my father and stepmother. My mind was in a terrible place at the time and my brother had nothing but words of encouragement and advised me to push on and to leave my abuser. Not mentioning any relationship problems that he was having of his own. That was the kind of person my brother was, selfless and forever humble, a gentle soul. My last words were the following. “I’ll be safe in heaven, not here”. James replied, be safe, I love you. Never in my entire life did I think these words would be the last words that I said to my brother. Survivors’ guilt is real, and it consumes my mind when I am asked what the last conversation is I had with my brother. It’s worse than any addict that is suffering from any kind of addiction. I think about him every single day. November comes along, my life is getting back in order. My father brought my brother a brand-new Chevy Camaro, which absolutely boosted my brother’s self-esteem.

I remember looking at pictures of James with a huge smile, but yet I had no idea of the troubles that he was going through with his relationship with the Defendant. It was that very night, November 17th. I was home with a good friend, Dale, bathing my dog, around the time my brother was getting slaughtered, fighting for his life. I was telling my friend how much I miss James and how I should reach out and apologize for the things that were said the last time we spoke due to my negative state of mind. My phone rang around 1:30 am. It was my father. My father never calls me that late, so immediately my heart sank. I answered the phone only to hear the trembling words of my father saying that James was murdered. Somebody killed your brother in your mother’s home. Your Honor, hearing these words from my father is the absolute worst words I would ever hear. And my mind could not comprehend. That very moment, my world stopped. My body collapsed on the floor. I was crying. I was screaming on top of my lungs, not my brother, for hours on end. Everything released from my body as if you do when you die, but here I am still alive. I will tell you a large part of me that night has died and I’m learning to survive this awful living nightmare.

The next day came around. My mind was racing for answers why, why, why my brother. My brother was a person’s son, brother, friend, boyfriend, and most of all my hero. Who would want to end his life? He was such a pure soul, a precious gift from God. We later learned that it was Defendant and she had fled to Maryland and willingly confessed to the crime of killing my brother. Listening to the confession tape multiple times in court with a room full of strangers, viewing the horrific crime scene pictures, will forever be embedded in my brain like a thirteen-inch blade was embedded in my brother’s chest. The fact of the matter is, these thoughts will never leave. This is my reality. It will never go away. My future was taken away with James and from our family. I lost my best friend, my one and only brother. My world became dark. My nights became sleepless. My days have become tiresome. My complex PTSD became alive and my mental health has declined. It took me to attend Victims Rights Press Conference for me to get the mental help that I needed. I will never forget the moment I broke down to one of the members, the lead director of Victim Services. It was not until August of 2017 I could work again and be somewhat a productive member of society. Prior to that, I suffered from the outbreak of shingles, severe depression, thoughts of suicide. I’ve had chronic panic attacks which are all direct impacts of this horrific murder. This crime has impacted my core beliefs, my perceptions in life, destroyed my trust with people, and has also made me question at times my own faith. When we asked our family’s priest at my brother’s funeral was this James time, he responded absolutely not. This was not an act of God, but an act of evil. My world became a living hell that I am still learning to live in. This goes to show how this horrific crime has impacted my physical and mental health in a lot of ways the general public cannot comprehend, nor I wish them to comprehend.

The aftermath of my brother’s homicide has not been easy. If anything, it’s been quite challenging. My first year, everything was a big blur and still can be a blur. A few months after receiving help from Victim Services, my therapist at the time was an intern who had completed her assignment and, unfortunately, I was turned away due to understaffing. It’s a shame that our system lacks the proper funding to provide services to survivors that have been impacted by any kind of violent crime. Due to this experience, it drove me searching online for answers for help with myself. That’s when I discovered there’s very little resources available for us. Thus, I ended up establishing a group online. I am 278 members strong across the world today. The bottom line is, no break-up should cost you your life. No parent should be handed a business card from a third-party company to clean up their child’s blood and to be charged for it. That should be covered by our taxpaying dollars. By the way, my mother ended up cleaning my brother’s blood that very night with my aunt. No victim should be turned away from mental health, especially in circumstances like this. As we know, the impacts of homicide are horrific and can be deadly. Not all of us survive. It’s a matter of a simple trigger that can put us over.

So I ask of you to help us live in peace, your honor. It’s the state’s job to deliver justice, to do good for survivors, not to add to our constant pain with the uncertain process of the courts. No murderer should be granted leniency for their ill will. Help our family collect some peace of mind from the selfish, vicious acts of a woman’s scorn. We want justice to be served for our own mental sanity, to be able to live in peace, knowing that Hell Raiser will be out of society, living under constant supervision by the State of Florida where she forever belongs. And most of all, for my brother James. We want the maximum sentence that the law can be upheld by you, your honor. James should be alive right now. He was a productive member of society who only knew how to do great things in life. My brother has touched thousands of lives and will continue to. Hopefully to prevent lives from being lost from a horrific breakup by spreading awareness that domestic violence exists in men, too. I thank the state’s attorneys, Lauren and Mr. Reid for providing James and our family a guilty verdict of second-degree murder with a weapon. Thank you Carol Brown, Dawn, members of Victim Services, and to everyone who has supported our family every step of the way in this horrific life experience. And I thank you, Judge Kelley, for all that you do. As the state would say after closing arguments, the state rests. The older sister, Alexandra Barry, now rests.

Sample Letter #2

To Whom It May Concern:

I think I have written this letter a million times waiting for months to address the court on behalf of my brother, Jeffrey. By the time this is all said and done, it’ll be multiple years. I am supposed to explain to you how this has affected me, how it’s impacted my life. In all honesty, I don’t think it is possible. I’ve wasted multiple notebooks trying to write this. Everything I write doesn’t seem enough. I shouldn’t even have to write something like this. How do I describe how much my brother meant to me, and to my family? How do I get you to understand the pain, the constant lump in my throat feeling, or the constant hell that I live in? 

Growing up it was always the three of us siblings. We live in the country, so we were all we had. I am the oldest, and I have always been the “protector”. My brother had a laugh that was contagious. He would always make jokes. His heart was so big and cared so much for others. He would give his shirt off his back to a stranger in need, and he did once when he came upon a lady who got into an accident. He had nephews who thought the world of him, who looked forward to him coming over. He was one of those people who others were drawn to. I wrestle every day with guilt. That week was the week of Thanksgiving. The time we are supposed to be with family, not bury them. My son asked me if Uncle Jeff was coming, I replied I believe so, and he wanted me to call him and double-check. I never got a chance to. I think about that all the time. What if I had called that day like I was supposed to? Would he be sitting across the table from me if I had? Instead, that weekend was spent with my parents making funeral arrangements to bury my little brother. Since then, I have lived a nightmare. 

Imagine having to call your own mother and telling her that her son is dead. I had to do that. I had to scream it to her, all the while my body is completely numb. I am a contact point between my mom and dad, so I got the call from my uncle and was told to call my mom. I have to live with that. I have to live with being the one that told that news to her, that broke her heart. 

If someone says grief doesn’t hurt, they are lying. The physical pain is unbearable. There is a split second in the morning where you are still half asleep and it’s nice, then it hits. Everything floods to your head, and you would rather crawl back under the blankets that face the day. I feel I have a good understanding of how to process grief, but I can’t even begin to process this. How am I supposed to help my two children process this, if I can’t help myself? How do I help my children understand the monsters are not the ones under the bed, they are the ones that walk beside you? I have had more anxiety attacks in the last couple years throughout this than I have any other time in my life. Fear-based anxiety attacks are crippling and hard to reason your way out of.  

Having a sibling murdered changes you. It changes you so deeply, so permanently. It changes your soul; every fiber of your existence is molded into something unrecognizable.  I feel like I have lived two lives, the one before this and who I am now. I have guilt that never stops. I have questioned my life, the people, and things around me, even my faith. My husband has picked me up out of the darkest places too many times I lost count. I have become someone different than the person before this. He grieves his own way, and I feel guilty about needing so much from him when it comes to this. He watches as some days I get frustrated over the littlest things, that I feel turns into the biggest. He brings me out of the mindset that somedays I feel will just keep going on.  

The nightmares that come along with it are the ones that jolt you awake, where your body is stiff from fear, then you ache the rest of the day. Your body is always on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes I ask myself if it’s a dream, this didn’t really happen. My children are 5 and 11. They are terrified that Matt Gilbert is going to come and hurt them in their own home, because he hurt Uncle Jeff.  

I have never thought about wishing death on a person, until now. It makes me sick to my stomach to have that thought, but I’ve thought it a thousand times over. Although death would be too easy of a sentence for him. He has no remorse for the things he has done. He has a criminal background, pages long. His own family is afraid of him. That says a lot about a person, and what they contribute to society. He has no value in this world.  

I have worked in a local law office; I know the process. However, now I am living the situation instead of drafting the court documents. I am sick of the victims losing and getting the short end of the stick. It seems like it’s happening more often in today’s world. The pieces of shit like Matt Gilbert need more than a slap on the wrist. Especially since this isn’t his first time being in trouble. That’s not justice. You don’t get to play God and kill someone, serve minimal time, then go back to your life as if nothing happened. We don’t get to do that. If we want to see my brother, we go to a gravesite. The life we had, the people we were before this, doesn’t exist anymore. He deserves to rot in prison. My brother deserves more justice from this than a minimal sentence. My family and I live in hell and will for the rest of our lives, so should the man who forced us into this! He has shown his motives in this life, and a leopard doesn’t change his spots, as he has clearly demonstrated throughout his lifetime.  

Your Honor, I beg you that you give him the maximum sentence for each charge. That his sentences run consecutive NOT CONCURRENT, and no chance for early parole. This will make it so this man is unable to hurt anyone else for the longest amount of time. It will give a sliver of peace to our lives knowing that he is away. Please for the sake of me and my family, give Matt Gilbert the longest at the disposal of the court.  

Thank you,  

Jennifer Wilcox

Sample Letter #3

We never got to say goodbye. My brother Gary was stolen from my family. He was 39 years old. Gary wasn’t the only victim. There were many victims in this murder. Gary is no longer breathing, but he leaves behind a mother, father, older brother and sister. We were a close family. He also had a sister-in-law, brother-in-law, nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a fiancé and her children, a longtime love, friends, customers who became friends, and two young boys who called him “Uncle Gary”. All have been impacted by the callous decisions of one person.

My brother was not perfect. He was human. He made mistakes, as we all do, but he never harmed anyone. He was kind, very generous, funny and thoughtful.

There were two last times I saw my brother. One time, alive, it was a few weeks before he died. He was taking my kids to their very first Patriots game. He invited me, too, because I celebrated my birthday recently and he wanted to spend time with me. My kids jumped at the chance to go with their fun Uncle Gary, but it was a rainy and cold day, and it did not sound like fun to me. I’d give anything to go back to that cold, rainy day and go to the Patriots game with my little brother. I will forever regret not going. When he dropped my kids off, I cannot remember if I hugged him. I definitely said thank you and I love you. That’s something we do in my family. I replay the drop-off many, many times in my head. Did I hug my brother? How was I supposed to know it would be the last time I saw him alive?

The next time I saw my brother was when he was dead, lying on the ground at the murder scene. This haunts me. It keeps me up at night. My brother lying dead, unmoving, on the cold ground, not breathing, blood everywhere. That was the hardest day of my life. Or so I thought.

On November 21st, my father called me on the phone, telling me my brother was dead, that he just found him in his truck with the cup holders filled with blood. My dad’s moans, an indescribable helpless sound; gut-wrenching screaming; telling my children and husband that Gary was dead; driving to the location. The hardest thing we ever experienced until:

  • Seeing my brother lying on the ground; waiting to find out who killed him; finding out it was someone we knew. Unbeknownst to us all, the murderer led us to the crime scene and was standing beside us the whole time.
  • My family having to view my brother’s body more than a week after he died because we had to wait for an autopsy.
  • Choosing to view my brother’s body three separate times in the basement of the funeral home because the people who loved him couldn’t do it alone.
  • Going through pictures for my brother’s service and finding pictures of the murderer at parties and on camping trips when we were young.
  • Watching my parents devastated, picking out the clothes for their youngest son’s service.
  • Reading a eulogy at my brother’s service and saying goodbye. It was the last time I hugged my brother. His body was cold, lifeless and badly bloated. This is my last memory of him.
  • Doing my brother’s taxes; my heart breaking all over again when the accountant broke down in tears over Gary’s passing.
  • Having to go through three bail hearings, anxiously awaiting to hear if the person who killed my brother would go free.
  • Arguing with the loan company for my brother’s new truck that he was murdered in. The person on the phone told me that I had to pay a $500 cleaning fee — telling me I had to pay a $500 cleaning fee to get the blood out of the cab of my brother’s truck that he was murdered in.
  • Calling my brother’s credit card company to find out why there was a $14,000 charge for a medical procedure. It was for fertility treatment — finding out my brother was trying to have a baby, and knowing that I will never get to meet his child or children.
  • Worrying about my parents’ and brother’s health. The stress that we all have experienced has impacted us all.
  • Accepting that Gary will never stop over after work ever again. He will not have dinner with my family or go out for Rita’s Italian Ice. It was his favorite. He will never go on annual summer vacations with the whole family. He will never go on more adventures like camping or boating with my children. He will never go to the Big E with us, buying everyone cheesesteaks. I will never hear my brother make appreciative noises while he is eating, to show appreciation for a good meal that I cooked. There are so many things he will miss. He would have been around at least 40 more years of birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births and everyday occasions to make memories.

I’m not sure my worst days are over. I have spent hours/days/weeks/months/years of settling my brother’s financial and personal matters. These issues will be ongoing. My brother was stolen from us, but hours, days, weeks, and months and years have been stolen away from my family. My children now have a different mother. My husband stated that he missed the old me. I’m not sure she is coming back. I am not the same person. No one in my family is. We are all broken.

I also have physical symptoms from this murder. I have gained a lot of weight due to stress. I suffer from PTSD, anxiety and depression. I never had these issues before my brother Gary was murdered. Every day, I am confronted by triggers due to this trauma: a car backfiring, someone standing too close to me, lack of trust for people I do not know well, seeing white pickup trucks and landscaping equipment. To treat these ailments, I also spend time in trauma therapy. It is once or twice a week, and it will continue for a long time. Again, more time is taken away from me and my family. But I will do what I have to do.

My brother will not be forgotten because he gave us so much to remember.

Tracy Gaudette Langevin (Gary Gaudette’s sister)

Sample Letter #4

We loved our youngest son, Gary. I don’t think we can ever put into words the devastation we still feel each and every day. There is a part of us missing. There is a hole in our hearts.

Gary loved his family. We spent a lot of time together. We went on so many family vacations. He loved camping, fishing, boating, hunting and eating good food. He would eat dinner with us when he was working nearby. We cherished spending time with our kids. We were hoping that after Gary married that he would have some of his own. He loved kids and was so good with them.

He helped so many people. During the tornado in Springfield in 2001, Gary cut down many trees for elderly people for free. One of his friends had a child with cancer and the friend’s car broke down. Gary bought him a car so that he could be with his child during treatment. He was also an animal lover. One day, he left a cookout to rescue a cat in a tree. He helped his friends, family and even strangers without an expectation in return.

He was very generous. That was stated numerous times throughout the trial. He was generous with his time and money. Why would anyone want to kill our son? He was a good person. He would have given you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

He always liked to learn new things and he had a great business sense. He was very successful in his tree business. He worked very hard. He had many great qualities. People wanted to be around him. He was charismatic.

Everything we write doesn’t seem enough. The physical pain is unbearable. Our hearts are broken, and we think about Gary every day, multiple times a day. When we sleep, we have nightmares. We can’t remember what it’s like to have a solid night’s sleep. We can’t remember what it feels like to not be stressed or worried or anxious. We can’t remember what it feels like not to grieve.

The images in our mind will never be forgotten. No parent should have to find their child bloodied and murdered. No parent should have to bury their child.

We have wounds that we will never recover from, but we will somehow try to live with. I’m glad that the jurors were able to see the truth and he will never see the light of day.

Gary Gaudette’s parents

Sample Letter #5

November 21, 2019, we were on our way to celebrate my son’s 21st birthday in Vegas. When we landed and were able to turn our phones on, our lives changed forever. I will never forget the look on my father’s face when he handed me the phone because my daughter was frantically trying to call all of our phones. I will never forget her voice telling me that Gary was murdered. I will never forget the moment I had to turn and tell my husband that his brother and best friend had died. I will never forget the phone call he made to his mother and the sound of her voice on the other end. I will never forget seeing my husband paralyzed and couldn’t move off the plane. I will never forget seeing my husband helpless because we were so far away. I will never forget the agonizing plane ride home the next day. That day, we not only lost Gary, but I lost a piece of my husband, Michael. He has never been the same since.

Gary was Michael’s best friend and vice versa. They were inseparable, even though we lived in different states. Their connection was like no other. They would talk with each other multiple times a day. They went hunting, fishing, played pool, went on vacations, worked together and much, much more. During hockey season, Gary would even drive to Pennsylvania from Massachusetts every Sunday just to play in the men’s hockey league with Michael. After the game, Gary would take a shower and then drive back to Massachusetts to work the next day. Michael has not been able to play hockey ever since Gary was murdered. There are so many things Michael can no longer enjoy because the pain of doing it without Gary hurts too much — something as simple as eating Banana Cream Cheesecake, which they both loved.

There were a couple things I heard by the defense throughout the trial that were said about Gary and were actually true: Gary was one of the hardest workers I knew, Gary was very generous and would give you the shirt off of his back, and that he loved his nieces and nephews. It broke my heart seeing my children: Stephannie, Mikey, Timmy and Tommy lose their uncle, and the opportunity for their uncle to be in their lives. I was so grateful that he was at least able to see my daughter (Gary’s goddaughter) get married two months before he was murdered. Each one of my children had a special bond with Gary. Since he was so young when he became an uncle, he kind of grew up with them. It also breaks my heart that my grandsons: Brycen, Quin, Camden and Asher will never know their Uncle Gary and what a great person he was. In fact, Gary never got to meet my newest grandson, Asher, which broke my son Mikey’s heart.

There are so many good things that have happened over the past 2-½ years that we were not able to fully enjoy because Gary wasn’t there, and so many good things to come that he will miss.

Everyone thought that me and Gary didn’t have a great relationship, but we did. It was truly like sibling rivalry. I started dating my husband Michael when Gary was around seven years old. I watched Gary grow up, I babysat him, went on family vacations with him, and even went to his baseball games. He became that annoying little brother I never had. As with any siblings, we were very competitive: from making apple pies, playing board games, playing volleyball, see who can drink the most ying/yang martinis, to most of all competing for Michael’s attention. Just because it seemed like we were always competing, I still loved Gary with all of my heart, and would do anything to have him back with all of us today.

Gary Gaudette’s sister-in-law

Sample Letter #6

It was a Thursday night. I just put my kids to bed. I got a phone call first from my grandma that I missed, then another right after. I knew in my gut something was wrong. I answered. She was destroyed, telling me Uncle Gary has been shot. She was frantically trying to reach my dad, who was on a plane to celebrate my little brother’s birthday. I then got a voicemail from my Aunt Tracy, frantically telling me the same thing. I still can hear the screams and crying in my grandma and aunt’s voice. I called my mom and dad as many times as I could to try to tell them the news. I finally got in touch with my mom the moment they landed. I’ll never forget this day. I had to tell my mother what had happened. I then had to tell my three little brothers that our uncle was shot in the head. This was the day my family was destroyed and changed forever.

My dad is a tough guy, but I have never seen something change someone so fast. My dad lost his best friend, his brother, and due to that, I lost my dad for a while. I saw my Aunt Tracy have to face the toughest days ahead and have to make the hardest decisions. I saw my grandparents struggle to cope emotionally. I saw my brothers sad and not understanding how something like this could happen. I’ve seen my mom have to be my dad’s punching bag emotionally and having to stay strong. I’ve seen my kids grow up without the Uncle Gary that I was blessed to have as a child. I lost my godfather, my uncle, my friend. I remember thinking: this doesn’t happen in real life, only in movies. I still can’t wrap my head around all of this to this day. Our family will never be the same from losing our Uncle Gary.

When I found out that I could write something like this, I thought I could sit here and write something clear that everyone could understand. But to be honest, I don’t think anyone will be able to understand what our family went through. No one knows how close my dad and Uncle Gary was. No one saw the horror in my dad’s face. No one sees the nightmares I have of him getting shot. No one sees my brothers crying and me trying to comfort them. No one sees my 4-year-old twins asking who Uncle Gary was, seeing their grandpa so sad. No one sees their fun-loving aunt trying to stay so strong. No one sees my grandparents just trying to get through the day without thinking of what happened to their son. I hope that no one here in this court ever has to go through this. I want to thank the court for allowing me to write this. I wish I was here to read it out loud myself. I’m forever grateful for the time I got to spend with my uncle, but for God’s sake, it wasn’t enough time.

Gary Gaudette’s niece

Sample Letter #7

My Uncle Gary was very caring and generous to the people he loved. I have so many great memories of spending time with my Uncle Gary. When I was about four years old, Uncle Gary taught me how to tie my shoes. I was too stubborn to listen to anybody else. He also taught me how to rollerblade and play hockey. We would spend a lot of time together playing hockey on ponds and at rinks. We would rollerblade at Interskate 91. We had so much fun winning team races.  We would play any sport together when I was younger. One time, he was playing the NHL hockey game on the Xbox with me and I beat him by a lot, so he told me to go outside and play in real life. We played street hockey, and I don’t think I scored once against him. He was very competitive. He would always invite me to go fishing with him, too.

He was also very funny. My Uncle Gary bought a house and boat in Ocean City. We spent our last family vacation with him there. We went water skiing and I got stung by many jellyfish. When I got back on the boat, the first thing he said was for someone to pee on it.

When I was around 13, I had to quit all contact sports because of too many concussions. I started riding a bike. He saw I started it and was a bit serious about it. He was so thoughtful and bought me a nice road bike for my birthday. He bought all of his nieces and nephews a car on their 16th birthday, but he wasn’t here on my 16th birthday. In honor of Gary, the whole family bought me a car. We would go to sports games together. A few years ago, he took me to a Bruins game in New Jersey on a school night. I thought that was the coolest, and my friends at school thought that, too. When my dad was away on a work trip for six weeks, my Uncle Gary took me to places every weekend. We went bowling, roller skating, and would just have fun.

He gave me my first job working for his tree business. He made me work hard and had high expectations for me. We worked early in the morning until after it got dark. Sometimes my mom would call asking when I was coming home because we worked a lot of hours. He taught me how to work hard, until the job was done. He always bought everyone lunch and Gatorade when working with him. He was always very generous and paid me well.

The last time I saw him was when he randomly asked if me, my sister, and my mom wanted to go to the Patriots game. We sat in the car for a while because he was having a hard time with Ticketmaster. We finally got inside the stadium and it was cold and rainy. The game was super fun. It was against the Browns. The score was 27-13; the Patriots WON.

Now that he is gone, I will never be able to talk about sports, go to sporting events, go hunting, spend the day on his boat, or go on vacation with him. He already missed three of my birthdays, many holidays, 11 bike races, family dinners, and most importantly, I lost the opportunity to see and spend time with my Uncle Gary. He never got to see me race bikes, he will never get to see me graduate high school, go to my wedding, and when I have kids, they will only get to hear stories about their amazing Uncle Gary. I miss my Uncle Gary, and he will never be forgotten.

Gary Gaudette’s 17-year-old nephew