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Service to honor Garrett’s short life

Family says closure isn’t possible until body’s found

SHARE Service to honor Garrett’s short life

ELK RIDGE — Their boy was a charmer, an innocent, a child who appreciated the textures of life that many take for granted.

"The day before we left for our fishing trip, he kept telling me to feel the neighbor's horses' noses, to feel how soft the horses' noses were," said Kevin Bardsley, whose son Garrett disappeared in August during a Boy Scout camping trip in the High Uintas.

"I didn't really think about that until later and I realized, that's unusual, but that's the kind of thing he noticed. The rest of us don't take enough time to notice. We get so caught up in everything else that's going on."

Kevin Bardsley and his wife, Heidi, know Garrett won't be coming home.

But the Bardsleys want anyone who searched or prayed or worried about their son to feel welcome at a Saturday memorial service planned to commemorate his short life.

They want people to meet their son through stories and pictures, even if it takes two buildings to house everyone who attends.

"Everybody knows his name. They've seen his picture, and they know what he was wearing when he got lost, but they don't know Garrett. They don't know what's inside. This will help people get to know the Garrett we knew," said Kevin Bardsley. "We'll pause and celebrate this young man's innocence."

"This is not closure. We won't have closure until we find his body," says his mother. "This is a time to reflect upon his life and who he was."

Garrett loved hanging out with his brother, Cameron. Most of the pictures pulled from family albums for the service slide show are of the buddy brothers.

"They were inseparable," said his mother.

Garrett enjoyed spending last Christmas in a little Mexican village. He looked forward to going to Ecuador this year, say his parents.

This year, the family will go without Garrett to help build an elementary school in his name. They also have $40,000 to help set up a foundation that will help the families of future lost children.

Like any loving, grieving parents, they miss their youngest terribly.

His whereabouts remains a mystery.

The 12-year-old boy left his father's side to return to camp after he got wet while fishing. He scampered away to change his clothes. The walk back to camp was about 150 yards.

He never returned and has not been seen since. He is presumed dead, but his body has not been found. Search parties scoured the mountainside until fall rolled into winter.

Months have passed. Snowfall has halted the search.

But Heidi Bardsley says she keeps looking for him everywhere she turns, especially as the holidays approach. "I miss holding him, his hugs," she said.

Are the Bardsleys tired of all the attention?

"No. I don't want it to die down," said Kevin Bardsley. "We want to keep the interest up and get the foundation in place. We want to keep Garrett alive in people's hearts."

E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com