Community appreciation

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter on the occasion of my son Gabriel Kandutsch’s 20th birthday, which is March 13. He would have been 20 that day.

The days and weeks following his death have utterly changed my life and required me, as well as the other people who love him, to redefine ourselves in one way or another. It has been and continues to be a great challenge.

I would like to thank publicly my Mount Desert Island community for their tremendous outpouring of support. It has been a great comfort and makes me even more proud than ever of my contribution here. I want to particularly thank Laurie Beal, Clark Stivers, Liz Laverack and Jake Jacobson, Bo Greene, Vicky Fernald, Mary Dudzik and the rest of my dear friends, who were there for me immediately on that terrible Sunday, as well as Gabe’s mom, Lauri, his brothers, his aunts and other family on her side for shaping Gabe’s life and for their support after his death.

I would like to thank Lt. Kevin Edgecomb, MDPD, and his colleagues, who were so understanding when I needed it so much. I also want to thank Tanya Hanke, John Urbanek and the rest of my colleagues and others at MDI Hospital who filled in for me when I could not work.

My thanks too for my crew at Cadillac Family Practice: Angie, Linda, Lou, Shannon, Lisa and all the rest, who were and continue to be so wonderful, and to Pastor Rob Benson and his congregation.

I hold in my heart all of Gabriel’s friends, especially Will, Josh, Flannery, Peter, Emma, Ethan, David, Lucas, Kevin, Lily and Dylan, and all the others who came out for that hike and story-gathering Dec. 23, and who have told me loving stories about my boy that I otherwise never would have known.

I mean this inclusively: thanks to all his friends, whether I know them or not. And to Mary Ternus, who loved, and still loves Gabe more than most people were aware; and who kept me going, and mostly sane, through the ordeal of the last three months.

I want to express my deepest thanks to all the many people who have contributed so far to Gabe’s memorial scholarship fund. Their generosity and that of Gabe’s grandparents Andy and Nancy Kandutsch will add to the money we had saved for his college expenses and allow us to give an award each year to an MDI High School grad who wants to pursue higher education in design and the arts. I am still working on a contribution web page for next year’s award.

The almost 20 years I had with my boy were a gift. From those whose lives he touched, I have learned that they feel this way, too. Therefore, most of all, thank you, Gabriel.

Mark Kandutsch

Bar Harbor

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