Friends, family pay final tribute to teen
Hundreds of balloons were released into the sky. Further and further into the distance they went until they disappeared in the eastern sky on Sunday.
Dozens of people came to the baseball fields at the Cape Coral Sports Complex for the memorial service for Christian Gibb-Trimble, 15, a rising Cape Coral High sophomore.
Christian died from an overdose of cough medicine. The overdose was intentional, the result intended.
Family, friends, teammates and coaches wore shirts that urged Christian to “fly high,” they signed memorabilia in remembrance, and they shared memories of a teen known for his smile, his hugs, his skills as a ballplayer, and his sportsmanship.
The service was not only meant to pay tribute to Christian, however. It also was called to serve as a life lesson for younger people.
Melvin Rhymer, Christian’s baseball coach and close family friend, said the event was to help bring awareness for kids to communicate when there’s something wrong, and for parents to pay notice to any warning signs.
“We want kids and parents to know this is happening in our neighborhood,” Rhymer said. “It can happen to anyone, so we have to pay attention to our kids. There are adults who are willing to listen to them.”
Rhymer said Christian took a cortisone cough and cold cough medicine, which is available on the shelves at any drugstore.
“I’m pushing to get those cold medicines back behind the counter where they belong. If we have to do that with cigarettes we can do that for medicines that can kill,” Rhymer said.
Rhymer said he did not see anything amiss with Christian in the time before his death, nor did Christian tell him anything was wrong.
“He always had a smile on his face, and if you didn’t smile, he made sure you had one, even if he had to tickle you,” Rhymer said.
Christian’s mother, Brianna Wagner, said he did seem to be upset a little because of girl problems, but other than that, he seemed fine.
“He was talking about the future. He couldn’t wait to see his stepbrothers or come back and play sports and go to the drive-in,” Wagner said.
There were hints, however. His grades had fallen, causing concern. Trimble said in the days before his death he expressed his feelings online to friends.
“If they had gotten in contact with one of us, I could have gotten to him sooner. He was the next room over,” Wagner said. “If you see a friend in trouble, contact somebody.”
Wagner got Christian to agree to counseling, but by then it was too late, she said.
Among the memorabilia were baseballs, jerseys and pictures.
Christian was remembered as more than just a good baseball player, though.
Friends walked up to the microphone behind home plate to share their thoughts, many saying how he always gave 110 percent in baseball, made people smile, and inspired them to be their best.
Other memories stood out.
Paul Weigandt, a former teammate, remembered how, when he gave a tournament MVP trophy to Christian, he turned around and gave it right back to him, saying Paul was the MVP.
Jaclyn Plainte, Christian’s aunt, remembered his hugs and how he had so many people who loved and supported him.
“We’re going to miss his hugs. Every time we saw him, he would give us his hug and tell us he loved us,” Plainte said. “He was the sweetest kid.”
Afterward, everyone went to centerfield to release their balloons, standing silent as they were carried by the wind before applauding as they flew out of sight.
The balloons did the same thing that the people who released them had told their dear departed friend: Fly High.