It's OK to laugh and OK to be sad, the Rev. Sam Dalin told about 500 people who gathered Saturday afternoon at Glacier Valley Elementary School to remember Skyler Lee Kim, the 10-year-old boy who died Monday in a traffic accident.
"I cried. I wept," said Dalin, the Capital City Fire and Rescue chaplain. "I threw things on the floor - all the emotions you go through. I talked to the family in the middle of the night."
But as Dalin read a remembrance of Skyler that included his favorite activities - kickball, collecting Yu-Gi-Oh cards, riding his bike - children giggled.
And Skyler's fifth-grade class, sitting on the gym floor near the podium, agreed with Dalin, saying "yeah," when he asked if it was all right to consider Saturday's memorial an assembly to celebrate Skyler's life.
Former teachers and family friends described Skyler as an energetic boy, "sparky," the first to climb a tree to retrieve a ball. Rebecca Mass, mother of one of Skyler's second-grade friends, said he was part of a group of "rambunctious boys" on the playground.
"They'd go out and just run around and they had all these incredible games and adventures," she said.
Nancy Peel, his teacher this year and new to the profession, said, "It's been a tough week for my class. But I will never forget Skyler, ever. It's my first classroom, he's one of my first fifth-grade students, but I will never forget him. He was a great kid."
Skyler's mother, Christine Judson, wiping away tears, read a message to her son.
"Every day you dance through my life, you are music to my heart," she said. "... My heart's at peace knowing you will dance with the northern lights."
Janalynn Doten, Skyler's teacher last year, said, "He had the most amazing smile under any circumstance. ... I want you to know that he will not be forgotten."
Four young violinists and a young cellist performed the elegiac air "Ashokan Farewell" by Jay Ungar, familiar from the Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War.
During the lengthy piece of music, which is a lament, a boy put his head on his mother's shoulder and a little girl stood up and hugged her mother.
Behind the musicians were tables with flowers, balloons, candles and teddy bears, and on the wall was a multi-colored heart-shaped poster made of paper cutouts of hands with children's names on them. In the corner of the gym were a display of photographs of Skyler and a toy three-wheeler manned by stuffed animals.
On behalf of her class, Peel read a student's letter to Skyler, saying that Skyler never felt bad and always had a smile. The class sang the school song, introducing a new line about Skyler and punctuated it with a swivel of their bodies and arms that Skyler would do to show that something was cool.
The Rev. Dalin read the 23rd Psalm. Several adults performed a song about Skyler written for the occasion by Norma Watt, whose daughter was a reading buddy with Skyler. She said the song would be recorded and copies sold to raise funds for the family.
"Our loss is Heaven's gain. You're at peace but we're in pain," were among the lyrics.
The ceremony concluded outside the school with children and adults blowing bubbles with liquid from little plastic jars, as two bagpipers played "Amazing Grace."
Soon the air was filled with little bubbles, clear from a distance but brightly colored when they floated past faces, that blew over the school roof and headed toward Thunder Mountain.