James Gandolfini Funeral: David Chase's Full Eulogy and Other Goodbyes
The late actor's wife, Deborah Lin Gandolfini, friend Thomas Richardson and dialogue coach Susan Aston also spoke at the funeral in New York.
Deborah Lin Gandolfini
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank everybody for the love and support during this incredibly difficult time. My husband was an honest, kind and loving man, and ironically he was extremely private. He cared more about others than about himself and took the time to ask whoever he met over the course of the day how they were doing. People mattered to him. He was always secretly helping someone. Jim, one of the things I loved most about you was watching you be the father that you were to Michael and Lily. Family and friends meant everything to you. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and for believing in me. I know all you ever wanted to do was make me happy. Thank you for the memories of the beautiful life we shared together. I will miss you terribly. I love you, Jim, and I always will. Rest in peace.
Thank you all for being here. Thanks to all you for moving heaven and earth to make this happen – you know who you are. Of course, Jim knows who you are. Thank you Lord for your love, for your light, for your goodness. Thank you for the people in this room and all the people not in this room who shared your love of Jim.
Jim is everything to me. More than a friend, more than a brother; he’s everything that’s good in this room. … Everything’s going to hell. The anger, the despair, the helplessness. It’s cruel to have died so young, so much to live for, with so much more to give.
Me and him stopped into a church -- and to say it was a church was saying that Jim could act. It was a basilica, one of the last basilicas done by Michelangelo, St. Johns. We lit a candle and prayed under the statue of St. Francis and the song, especially chosen by my family, which we’ll hear later tonight, St. Francis prayed with joy for our sins. He asked that we sing not so much to be consoled, but to console, not so much to be loved, but to love. It’s in giving in we receive, and in dying we are born to eternal life.
Lord thank you for giving us Jim. A child of peace, a child of goodness. Jim was good. As immense as his talent was, he was an even better person. It was ingrained in his soul that everything could be better and he could not rest until he made it better. He struggled, he failed. He struggled, he succeeded. He struggled, he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. It showed in his work, it showed in his family, it showed in his love. … Jim grew each and every day because he was open to the people in this world. Whether you knew Jim growing up or back from college -- Jim, James or Jimmy -- bartending or stage or screen, whether he worked for you, whether you worked for him, you worked by his side. He bonded with you. You became part of his life. He’d invite you to the Jersey Shore house. He’d treat you to family Thanksgiving dinners. He’d celebrate birthdays, New Years, nearly any excuse.
You nurtured Jamie -- instilling the values that made you the most giving and generous person anyone here has ever known -- and stood by his side.
Michael, you are every bit as smart and talented and loving as your father. You have shown such strength through this unbearable time. Your father would be proud of his son.
Deborah and Lily, there are no words as to how merciful and unfair this is. Know we are there for you. Michael has told us that he has made it his goal to make sure Lily knows her dad’s goodness and generosity.
People would ask me what’s it like to be with Jim everyday? And my response would always be the same: “Every day’s an adventure.” One day, he might bring in a duffel bag full of cash to help out a friend. Next day, he may be serving food to save the homeless. He could be researching to find the truth of a role. Or riding the Mardi Gras float the year after Katrina. He could be with our war-torn heroes in Iraq or Afghanistan. Or helping those torn apart by Sandy recently on the Jersey Shore. He’d be battling Warners for … his contract or swimming with sharks in Hawaii or racing to make time on Broadway or sharing sushi with teamsters on set. Or watching Lily blow raspberries. Or playing nights of four-round poker with friends and family. Every day was an adventure.
You really made the most of every day. Seems like he crammed a hundred years of memories into a life too short. When we created too much chaos, he might stop and say, “Breathe.” When things were truly falling apart he’d say, “Love.” … Since it is in giving that we receive and a loving that we are loved, Jim was filled with the love of you all.
I could talk forever about Jim and I will, so everyone will know his goodness. By the spirit of St. Francis let me end with this: It is hidden in the rock-bottom pit of loss that we find the most need for one another’s comfort. When Jim focused his incredible gaze on you, you felt so important.
Do you know how much you mattered? The greatness you can achieve and the joy you can bring to the world. Then that gaze turned to a hug and that hug seemed too tight and he held it too long but it felt so impossibly light.
So many have said, “Is there anything I can do?”
On behalf of Jim, may I please ask a favor? Could you please stand? Could you please grab the people next to you, close your eyes, think of Jim and hug. And hug people too tight, and hug your loved one too long. For it is in hugging that we are hugged. And that his passing is forever with us.