Sunday, August 4, 2013

Nothing Is By Chance...

On Friday night, my Mom, Ed, Brian and I were leaving the rides on the boardwalk for our walk home. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted white tents... and as I turned my head I realized they were lining the edge of the boardwalk as far as I could see.  As we got closer - we realized it was an art show with each tent housing a different artist.  I felt my heart leap - surely this would be where I would find the photo or painting of the pier where we scattered some of Gavin's ashes.

But... they were all closing up to go home.

I ran up to one of the artists and he told me they'd all be open again at 11am the next morning.  My Mom and I couldn't wait to go back.  It would be our last day there.  What are the chances that there would be an art show that we would just happen upon RIGHT before we left Ocean City for home?  I was sure it had to be a sign that I would find the perfect piece.  I had looked in stores up and down the boardwalk and even online - I hadn't found anything that really spoke to me as of yet.  It had to be "perfect" and I knew I know "the one" when I saw it.

The next morning we all got ready and headed up to walk from tent to tent.  It didn't take long until I was drawn into a particular tent.  There were incredible photographs and I just had a gut feeling that the gentleman would have one of the pier.  
As I entered the tent, my eyes immediately went to a gorgeous photo of the pier.  It took my breath away.

I knew that this was "it" - but I walked away to look at all the other artists just to be "sure."  It didn't take long for me to head back - I had to have that print.  The photographer was very nice and, as it turns out, lives not too far away from us!  When I told him I wanted a larger size than he had in stock, he gave us his number and told us to call him - he'd ship it to our home.  My Mom started chatting with the photographer and his wife and, ironically, they grew up in the same town.  As they reminisced, I told my Mom to catch up to us - that we were going to keep strolling down the boardwalk.  We walked away so happy to have found THE print.

A few minutes later, I saw my Mom coming towards us with rather frantic eyes.  When she got to me, she grabbed my arm and said, "You're not going to believe this..."

She explained that she had been talking with the photographer's wife for a little bit and before she left to catch up to us she explained to her why we were so happy to find that photograph.  The woman was very sympathetic, my Mom said - and then they went their separate ways.

As my Mom walked down the boardwalk towards us, she heard loud footsteps banging up behind her. Then - a tap, tap, tap on her shoulder.  She turned to see the photographer, with tears in his eyes, and he said, "You're not going to believe this..."

He explained that just a couple weeks before they had been on the boardwalk for an art show just like this.  A woman came into my tent and inquired about that very same photograph of the pier.  The woman picked it up and explained to me that she wanted to buy it for a friend.  Then, she proceeded to tell me the story about Gavin... your grandson. She even told me to go take a photo of the fire truck at Gillian's Wonderland Pier that was painted in honor of him.  I was so moved by the whole thing that I handed this woman the print and said - "Please, just give it to the family."

My Mom could barely relay the story through her tears.  Ed and I had to go back to talk to this man - and find out who the mystery person was that chose the exact same print for US!

When we got to him, he just shook his head.  "You don't understand," he said - "that photo is one that's been in the back of the bin.  For some reason, right before that show, I decided to put it on display." He opened up his computer to show me the mystery woman's name - and his notes that said "Take photo of fire truck at Gillians."  The woman actually works at our local pharmacy... one that we frequented quite a bit for Gavin.  They practically became family during the crisis with his corneal abrasion when he nearly lost his eye.  It felt like we were in there every other day.  She is also a reader of this blog and just the nicest person.  I just couldn't believe it.  Any of it.

I mean, really... what are the chances...

...We would happen upon the art show.

...It would be on our last day.

...That I would be drawn to his tent - and straight to the photograph.

...That just a couple weeks before someone else would be drawn to the same tent - to the same photograph - with Gavin and our family in mind.

...That the photographer would hear Gavin's story - and then meet us as we chose the same exact photograph.

It's beyond my comprehension.  Gavin was so involved in this entire experience - I know it like I know my name.

Gary Donnelly, the photographer, was once again so moved by the whole experience that he insisted on gifting us not only the large print we originally intended to buy - but the photo he will be taking of the fire truck as well.

I wish that Mr. Donnelly had a Facebook page so I could have all of you flood it with likes and comments!  He does have a website and if you click HERE you can see all of his beautiful photos of Ocean City... including the shot I fell in love with of "Gavin's pier."

All of us are still shaking our heads in disbelief.  

Truly... nothing is by chance.


  1. Wow, what an experience! That is unbelievably wonderful.

  2. Beautiful!!! I don't read every one of your posts, but I was drawn to this one and it brings tears to my eyes. I'm so, so happy that you found the perfect photo. I know how much it means to find that "perfect" thing...for me it was my boys' is the perfect frame for the photos now. It will always be something you are looking for. Some connection. But it gives us hope that our little ones are always with us. <3 <3 Love to you, Mama

  3. Way to go, Gavin! Touching so many! <3

    That's an absolutely beautiful photograph! It would have been the one I was drawn to as well. I love sunsets!

    Love and light! ~Mary in SC

  4. This story gave me chills and I agree, absolutely nothing in life is by chance.

  5. Amazing. God (and Gavin) never cease to amaze me!!

  6. Wow, this is truly remarkable.

  7. The goodness of Gavin continues. He really does continue to inspire kindness in everyone.

  8. I don't think these goosepimples will ever go away. This is the most amazing story ever, I mean as In of all time. I am speechless and that NEVER happens.
    Super Hero Gavin.

  9. What a beautiful story. I love when things like that happen, it makes me feel like my son who passed 7 years ago is still with me. I am so glad you have the photo of Gavin's pier that you were looking for. What a perfect end to your week at the beach. Love and hugs to all of you always!

  10. He's looking out for his Mama like you looked out for him. What a sweet, sweet blessing.

  11. Love this! If you haven't already, check out and make sure and watch the video. Their story is full of hope as well. I thought of you today when watching it.

  12. ...there are no coincidences. :) Beautiful

  13. This story gave me chills. Gavin will continue to touch your lives every day...his little hand will be in everything you do I'm sure.

  14. OK...tears of happiness! :-)

  15. You are soooo right...NOTHING is by coincidence!! The Lord, Jesus Christ, has orchestrated all the plans, happenings and experiences in our lives :) It is so neat to see how these plans play out in our everyday lives. Love to read your posts, even with tears in my eyes, and pray for you all often. Always remember to give HIM the glory, honor and praise :) Thoughts and prayers always :)

  16. Relatively new reader here. Began following you when Gavin passed away (found you through Momastery). So inspired by your family and you! Totally agree that your dear son had a hand in what happened with the photo. God is good! Please know that you are in my daily prayers as you continue with your journey of grief -- and your journey of Hope! Cannot wait to hear of your dear daughter's arrival at Christmas. My oldest was born on 12/24 -- it's a magnificent time of year to have a baby! Every year since 1997, I love to prepare for Jesus's birth while reminiscing about my preparations for my first-born's birth. God bless you all!

  17. This proves once again, what I have always thought: we are ALL connected. One world. We just need to be open to seeing these connections. I mean really, you could've just walked into that tent and bought the photo and decided not to share yourselves or your story and the photographer could've decided to keep it business like and not share himself or his recent story. And then you would've missed all the magic that comes with making these connections.
    Keep making the connections Kate. The magic is all around you and also within. OXOX

  18. Go Gavin! You still make the life of your Mommy and many others very special and happy. It is a beautiful print.

  19. Goosebumps. God works in amazing ways. Bless your family

  20. I first would like to say how incredible this story is. Secondly, I am one of the daughters of the photographer, Gary Donnelly. I work at a nursery school and one of the parents follow this very blog. I had no prior knowledge of this story from my father ( due to the fact he and my mom were still down in OC). So the mother sent me a text saying she read your blog of the day and it was about my dad. I right away looked it up & began to read. I could not get over this story. I called my dad right away to hear the story first hand and he still was getting choked up. I am so honored & touched that Gavin chose my dad's photo for "THE" one. I am very spiritual and believe in life after death, and how those who have passed on, are with you at all times. This story just confirms everything for me. This is a beautiful story for a beautiful family. I will never forget this. Thank you for sharing to help let others know that nothing is by chance.


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