We would like to thank the Milford Fire Fighters, EMTs and police as well as the doctors, nurses and chaplains at Bridgeport Hospital for providing such excellent care to Conor and for being a tremendous source of comfort for us. We are grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers from both St. Mary’s Church in Milford and First United Church of Christ of Milford. We are especially thankful for all of the support from our neighbors, family and friends, many of whom have traveled great distances to be here with us today. We are touched and strengthened by the love that surrounds us.
Conor lived a lifetime in his short time with us. He touched every person with whom he came in contact. Every child is special, but there was something uniquely special about Conor. He was always smiling and blowing kisses. It was impossible to spend a day with him and not instantly fall in love.
Despite being the “little brother,” Conor was Tessa’s biggest protector. Whenever she was upset, without prompting, he would go over to her and give her a big hug and kiss and she would instantly feel better. Last week, she fell and scraped her knee and when we went to comfort her, she said, “No, I need my Conor.” It was not uncommon to see the two of them walking around the house holding hands or Tessa shouting after him, “Conor come back here and hold my hand.” He was a willing participant in her bossing him around. One of their favorite games was playing day care. Tessa would shout, Conor go to Infant room, now go to toddler room and he would happily oblige. They also loved to do “morning meeting.” They would empty all the shoes out of the baskets, turn them upside down and sing and clap. Sometimes Tessa would lay on the floor and shout, “Conor, tackle me.” He would jump on her and they would erupt in laughter and just lie there laughing. When he was smaller, she would lie on him or not so gently pat his back and say too rough? We would run over to see if he was okay and he would always be in a deep, belly laugh. She could do no wrong in his eyes.
That’s not to say that like any truly good brother, Conor didn’t know how to push Tessa’s buttons. He recently learned how to say, “not nice” and he would follow Tessa around the house, wagging his fingers and shouting “not nice”. He also loved to grab her favorite toys, especially baby Anna, look back and smile at her and then run. When we went to to the grocery store, they would sit in the 2 seater cars and as soon as they got in, Conor would instantly reach across Tessa to grab her steering wheel. He loved how frustrated she would get. Once he saw that look of frustration and heard her scold him, he would laugh that amazing little laugh and she couldn’t help but join him and instantly forgive him. They did everything together and never spent a night apart from the day he came home from the hospital. Tessa would wake up every day and say Mommy, Conor’s my best friend. Their love for each other was so amazing to watch.
Conor’s mischievous nature extended beyond teasing his sister. He would get that smile on his face and you knew trouble was coming. He would run into the bathroom, splash his hands in the toilet water and then just after you cleaned him up, he would instantly be running back in to repeat the process. Of course, one of his proudest moments was throwing Mommy’s phone in the toilet. I was changing Tessa’s diaper and I heard a splash followed by clapping. It was impossible to be mad at that face of pure joy and pride. He was a budding electrician and always wanted to plug and unplug everything in our house. Safety plugs were no match for him. One day we found him trying to drag a lamp by the cord across the room to presumably a better location. All of this earned him the affectionate nickname of troublemaker from his big sister.
There were so many things Conor loved, but some of our best memories are of him on the beach. Conor loved the beach. He would stand at the edge of the water and shout at the waves and then laugh with that amazing, contagious laugh when the waves crashed on his feet. We think that he really believed he and the ocean were talking.
One of his other great loves was playing with baby dolls. He would strap one of the babies into their toy car seat or stroller and transport around the house, battling with Tessa over who got to use the pacifier or bottle. The two of them would spend hours together taking care of their babies, putting them down for naps, changing diapers, and feeding them.
He loved music. Unlike his daddy, he was always dancing. Each morning, he would hand the remote to us, and say “Elmo, Elmo, Elmo” so he could hear Elmo singing the Letter of the Day or the Elmo Slide. He would sit and bop along to the music.
Conor started at Tutor Time at 2 months of age and very quickly charmed all of the teachers. We are indebted to those amazing caregivers who always made sure he was well cared for but even more importantly truly loved him. One of Conor’s favorite toys was a toy rotary phone at day care. He loved it so much that we even got 2 matching ones for home and he and Tessa would sit in the their play tent, making their calls in the morning. You could hear his little voice saying, Hello and bye bye over and over. At day care, everyone knew that that phone was Conor’s. They said he would even hide it from his friends. However, one day, one of his little friends decided that he wanted to play with the phone. Conor was none too pleased and decided to try to wrestle it back. That is how he earned his first bite, right on his cheek. When we went to pick him up, he would be so excited to see us. If he was in the buggy car, he would start hopping up and down to get out. But as excited as he was to see us, he was always most excited to see his big sister. When we got to her room and he would see her through the window, his legs would start kicking with excitement and he would leap out of our arms immediately on entering the room. He would run into her room and always give her a big hug, whether she wanted it or not. As we left the building, Conor would blow kisses to every teacher he would pass, while Tessa would run by everyone without saying goodbye. Despite being best friends, the two of them were so different, and that’s what we love about them.
One of Conor’s other favorite things was spending time his many family members. Conor loved nothing more than visiting his grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. Conor was our little social butterfly and always the life of the party. At a large family reunion this summer, Tessa hid from all the excitement but Conor delighted to be in the center, having cousin Lawrence play basketball with him in the pool and cousin Sean fill his belly with brownies. He had many outings to New York City to brunch with his auntie Tara and auntie Eileen. He would sit in the high chair at a busy restaurant and love the hustle and bustle and inevitably draw a crowd from admiring strangers. He loved when his aunties would be silly and dance and sing funny songs with him. When they babysat, they quickly became experts at the Elmo Slide. His favorite part of their visits was always when they would smother him with kisses. When his uncle Sean, auntie Danielle, and cousins Ashley and Emily moved to Oklahoma, we would face time with them at least weekly but often more frequently and Conor always wanted to be in charge. He would grab the phone so he could see their faces and blow kisses to auntie Danielle and Uncle Sean and shout Emmie/Ash until they would say Hi Conor and then he would laugh and start shouting their names again. When they visited over the summer, he spent nearly every day with them for 1 month. They went to the park and the museum and countless other places, but his favorite part was at the end of the day when they all would lie down on the air mattress together and read books and fall asleep together.
He also loved his trips to Massachusetts to see his great grandfather, Gumpa and his Uncle Max. He would scurry around Gumpa’s house and thought his walker was the best toy. He also enjoyed silly time with Uncle Max and particularly loved when “tickle spider” came out. Conor also delighted in the shouting game. They would go back and forth shouting, each one getting slightly louder until Conor started laughing. Conor’s laugh was the best medicine for anything. You could be having the worst day and all you would need was that laugh to brighten your day.
Conor was blessed in that for the first month when I went back to work, despite working themselves, his grandparents took turns watching him every day, despite some hefty commutes from Massachusetts and New Jersey. During that time, he developed an even stronger bond with Nana, Grandma (who Conor called Ma) and Pa Pa. A few weeks ago, Grandma and Grandpa were babysitting for the weekend and as soon as they arrived, Conor ran to the door with his arms up shouting Ma Ma, followed by Up Up. He loved her off key singing of Ferre Jacka. He would laugh and dance along with her singing. It was always hard to get Conor to go to sleep because, being that social, outgoing boy, he never wanted to miss anything. However, Grandma always had a special way of getting him to sleep, nestling him in for cuddles and within minutes, he would be peacefully asleep in her arms whereas it would take us 1 hour. Grandpa was one of his favorite play mates. He loved when he would play the train whistle for him. When he was visiting and Grandpa would try to put on Fox News, he would hand him the remote and say Elmo and then hop up next to him on the couch. We think he’s the only one who could convince Grandpa to change the channel. One of his favorite things was when Grandpa would sing Rock and Roll is here to stay and he and Tessa would dance along and erupt in laughter. They Face timed with them daily to say good night and if it was a busy day and we hadn’t yet gotten to the phone, he would hand it to me and chant Ma/Pa over and over until we made the call.
When Nana got sick, Conor face timed with her every day. Despite not seeing her in person, their bond was still so strong. He would be playing across the room and as soon as he heard her voice on face time, he would squeal and crawl over to the phone, excitedly competing with Tessa to see Nana. One of our fondest memories was a few weeks before she passed away, when he was able to visit with her for the first time after several months. It was as if there was no time lost. He crawled up into her lap and played with her all day. We know that Nana is taking good care of him right now and he is sitting on her lap as she sings Trot, Trot to Boston with him and he is blowing kisses down to us.
Our little Conor was and will continue to be a source of great joy for all of us. As parents you have your first child and you are so overwhelmed with love that you think you couldn’t possibly love someone else any more. We remember talking about that while pregnant with Conor and actually worrying about it. However, from the moment we saw Conor’s face, we knew our lives would never be the same. We loved snuggling on the couch with him in the morning. He loved eating so meal time was always fun as he would gleefully sign and say more, more. Even after he was done, when we would sit down to eat ourselves, he would stand next to you saying yum yum, looking for more. Before bed, we would lie, all 4 of us together reading stories and you would think he was about to fall asleep and then he would pop his head up and smile at you. It was hard to look at that smile and be stern about going back to sleep; you would have to give in. Our last family outing was last weekend we went pumpkin picking. We got to Jones Farm and we were surrounded by countless pumpkins, but there was also a little stage with a basket of maracas and music playing. He went straight to the stage and was dancing and handing out maracas to the other children. We tried to tell him there was so much more to see, but he was so happy to just sit there. It was the essence of Conor. He didn’t need much to be happy, just to be surrounded by smiling faces and to spread his joy. He was the most perfect, happiest, best baby boy. He was little in age and little in size, but he had the biggest personality.
We find comfort in the fact that Conor has forever changed the lives of so many with his laughter and joyful spirit, especially Mommy, Daddy & Tessa. We know his memory will forever live on. You can’t help but think about Conor and smile. He will forever be our little angel. Even in his passing, he had a way of taking care of us.
We know that even in heaven, he will continue to be Tessa’s best friend and protector.
Goodbye little man. We will love you forever.