Hartland Pays Final Respects to Kendal with Outpouring of Memories
More than 500 attend Kendal Lividini's funeral in Farmington Hills.
FARMINGTON HILLS — The day after his daughter's death, John Lividini recalled not being able to turn on the radio.
Kendal, 17, loved all types of music and every song would be a memory, he told the 500 people attending his daughter's funeral Friday.
So, as he drove family members to the airport and train station to head back to Michigan for the funeral, they traveled in silence. His bubbly daughter had lost a nine-month battle with cancer — far away from home, in Minnesota, the place where the Hartland family made its last medical stand.
After dropping off the passengers, Lividini told the crowd, he knew he had to regain his composure or he wouldn't be able to drive. He decided to lean over and turn up the volume on the radio.
"And of all the songs out there in this world and at that time of day and that station, I don’t know why, but this song was playing,” he said.
As the first strands of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” played over the sound system, many in crowd openly wept.
Upon hearing the lyrics that spoke of singing of finding comfort in the arms of an angel, members of Hartland High School’s hockey team used their jerseys to wipe away their tears. One young teen moved from where she was sitting with friends to be closer to her mother in the rows behind her. Parents reached over to comfort each other and girlfriends embraced one another as sorrow and heartache filled the small church.
With every pew filled at Faith Covenant Church, mourners lined the walls or sat in the outer lobby, just so they could pay their final respect to Kendal, who died on Jan. 7. The large crowd listened as Kendal’s friends and family spoke of the young girl who always seemed to put other people’s needs in front of her own and was blessed with an unforgettable smile.
“I will miss that smile,” John Lividini said. “Along with her sitting at our table, walking her down the aisle for her wedding, and watching her bounce a baby of her own someday — she would have been a great mother.”
In April, 2010, Kendal was diagnosed, again, with leukemia, a battle she won once as a child 12 years before. Over the ensuing months of treatments and moving between different hospitals, many in the Hartland community stepped up to support her and her family with fundraisers and prayer vigils while she and her family responded by sharing their story on a Web site, Team Kendal.
Surrounded by her family in her last days, Kendal's mom, Heather Lividini, said Kendal spoke to her parents the day before she died.
“All of a sudden we heard, ‘You know what. Tomorrow is my birthday,’” said Heather Lividini during her eulogy. “I just rubbed her head and said, ‘Yes, baby.’ We thought she was confused. But she wasn’t confused because the next day, the most beautiful angel was born.”
With hundreds of high school students attending Kendal’s funeral, it was apparent the strength and courage she showed touched many of her friends and that she had become an inspiration to many of her peers.
“I think it’s bringing everyone closer and making us all stronger,” said junior Ray Young, a member of the Hartland hockey team.
Kendal, who until she became ill never missed a Hartland hockey game, enjoyed the aggressiveness of the sport, according to Young. At its home opener on Dec. 1, the team donned a special patch as a tribute. Before Friday's game, Kendal was honored with a moment of silence.
“We’re playing for her now,” he said.
Kendal’s friend, Ben Potrykus also played for her on Friday, but his own way. He played his ukulele and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a song he would also perform for Kendal whenever he visited her in the hospital.
Emily Behnke, a close friend, described Kendal as “little miss sunshine” and having a sense of humor that was a cross between “Sixteen Candles meets Stepbrothers,” reference to movies.
Kendal, a Hartland High School junior, was also described as being the best friend anyone could ask for, a sentiment that was repeated many times by each of her close girlfriends who stood up to speak. With many years filled with silly games, theme songs, note passing, and birthdays each one had a special moment to share.
Kylie Gowell told the crowd about the bright future she and Kendal had discussed. She said it included them being roommates at Michigan State University, becoming rich and moving to California with one of them getting to marry pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler.
“When I accomplish one of our dreams,” Kylie said. “Know that I will be doing it for the both of us.”