NORTON — Bryce Derosier was just a little boy but he left behind a giant legacy of love, compassion and joy, his parents said.
That impact could be seen in the green lights on homes around the Norton area on Saturday and Sunday, a show of support for the Derosier family.
It could be seen in the lawn signs in Norton that read, “Fly high sweet Bryce,” “All Mighty Bryce” and “Forever in Our Hearts.”
And from the Facebook posts of the many friends and strangers who said Bryce’s story and the strength of the Derosier family throughout his illness changed their lives and their outlook on life.
The Rev. Timothy Reis of St. Mary’s Church in Norton said Bryce’s great gift was to bring out the best in everyone around him through his radiant smile and indomitable spirit, to serve as a reminder of how we should treat each other, to “allow people to give the good of themselves.”
“In a world filled with hatred, violence and terrorism...everyone stopped to...give him what they could,” Reis said at Bryce’s funeral on Monday morning at St. Mary’s.
Bryce Derosier was nearly 16 months old when he died on June 27 at home in his mother Jamie’s arms, four months after he suffered a 20-hour seizure.
Bryce had mitochondrial disease, as does his 3-year-old sister, Aubriella, which can cause poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, muscle weakness and neurological problems, including seizures.
“I ask the entire room the following question, ‘Have you ever done anything wrong in your entire life?’ And I answer on behalf of my son, ‘No’,” Bryce’s father, Taunton Police Officer Jeremy Derosier, said at Bryce’s funeral, attended by hundreds of friends and family members, members of the Taunton and Norton police departments, Taunton Mayor Tom Hoye and Taunton Police Chief Edward Walsh.
Losing him has left a void but being blessed with his presence for nearly 16 months was a gift, Jeremy said.
In a poignant moment, he asked everyone in the church to smile in honor of the little boy with the infectious, jubilant, unforgettable smile.
“We are better people, better parents and better friends for having known you,” Jeremy told his son.
“We will meet again. We will dance, laugh, love and watch the Red Sox,” he told his little boy.
Jamie did not speak at the funeral but she expressed her great love for her son in a video she posted on Facebook on June 29.
Her voice choked with emotion, tears running down her face, Jamie said, “He had this energy about him that just made you want to be better and watching him fight for every second in this world was inspiring to everyone who met him. His soul was just so captivating.”
Jamie said when it became clear Bryce’s time was limited, as he suffered from end-stage, untreatable liver failure, family members gathered at the Derosier home in Norton to surround him with love.
Near the end, Jeremy came into the room and closed the door. She thought he was just going to give Bryce a kiss, but instead Jeremy told his son, in the ultimate act of love, “You can go, Buddy. You’ve fought long enough.”
And then Jeremy turned to Jamie and asked her to do the same.
It was so hard, she said. She didn’t want to let him go. But she knew it was what her remarkable, beautiful little boy needed, so she told him, “Buddy, you can go. We love you.”
Just a minute later, Bryce died peacefully in her arms.
Jamie said she may never know why she was only “blessed to know” Bryce such a short time. And it has been indescribably hard to lose him.
But she does know in that short time he accomplished something amazing, she said.
“He made this incredible movement in the world. He brought people together. He showed communities what they should be like. He showed kindness. He showed love and he showed the world how to love and how to appreciate love and life,” Jamie said.