Chip Gallagher passed away in Quito Ecuador on Saturday April 16th, just days before he would see his only daughter, Kelcy, marry Gustavo.
When the Gallaghers came back to Alaska to lay Chip to rest, they planned the funeral for a Friday. In the four days leading up to the eve of that funeral, everyone in Kelcy’s hometown community decided to band together to throw the wedding that never got to be. Susan Luiken brought decorations, Greg Porter signed up to DJ, Vanessa Makihele made the cake, and everyone from a community I know and dearly love put down what they were doing on a Thursday afternoon to be a part of this celebration amidst the strongest and worst kind of grief.
Chip Gallagher loved the Downtown Soup Kitchen and gave so much of his time to serve there. When the idea of this wedding came to be, they threw wide the doors of their building in honor of the man they knew well and his beloved daughter who had also given countless days to serve there.
This is the story of the wedding and the funeral, the one after the other and how they so strangely intertwined themselves together.
To see such thick and palpable amounts of joy and grief inhabit the same building, the same bodies, at the same time was entirely foreign to me. I believe it speaks to the depth of faith this family and their community clings to. That even while they suffered, they still worshiped.
I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to do that, but I do know I am grateful to have been let into their experience.
I am grateful they let me make this film.