by Jade Gaudet Gautam, Lieutenant JAG Corp, US Navy
Jade was one of Claire’s special childhood friends who lived just down the street from us. We have kept in touch and follow her adventures around the world. In 2013 we invited her to share some memories about Claire at the annual awards presentation which usually takes place in early May after the school mass. The presentation took place this morning via video conference until a more formal presentation can take place in the fall. We so pleased that this year we are announcing six awards to deserving students who exemplify personal characteristics including love of school, love of others, and commitment to excellence in school and personal life, doing what you have to do even when you don’t feel like it and doing it the best you are able.
Thank you, Jade for allowing us to share your memories from your talk in 2013.
When Mrs. Susan first asked me to do this, well at first, I thought I couldn’t talk about something so dear in front of a crowd. But then I started to think about what special memory I should share so that you could get a glimpse of the cheerful girl I spent my childhood with.
I started to think about the time we decided it would be a good idea to turn my parents’ bathroom into a swimming pool room. We actually flooded then entire bottom floor of their house and ruined all the wood floors.
I also thought about our embarrassing front yard Spice Girls concerts and our day long go cart rides where we would just ride and talk all day. We loved to play the board game Life, watch the movie Clue, and dress up as each other trying to fool our parents into thinking we were the other.
But the memory of Claire that stands out to me above all of that – and at this point I can’t even remember if I was there or was told about it – is an encounter Claire had with another girl. A girl came to the Goudeau’s front door, and Claire noticed this girl seemed just really down, timid, struggling with something, and then she noticed she either didn’t have hair or was losing her hair. Claire just smiled at the girl, pulled off her hat and wig and said, “Don’t worry; I don’t have hair either.”
Despite her discomfort, her hardship, her pain, at such a young age, Claire always found a way to reach out to another person in the silly, child-like way that was her.
A part of my childhood was taken when Claire died, but I think I was given the most beautiful gift – I call it the gift of life. With this came not only the ability to understand the value of life and to never take a day for granted, but most importantly it made me understand the impact we have on other’s lives - and what we choose to do with this is up to us.
So, it is in this spirit of Claire that I have described, that I hope the recipients receive this award and try to embody the beautiful person that was Claire, choose to have a positive effect on others, and encourage all those around them to do the same.