Illinois Congressman Sean Casten is opening up about his daughter Gwen’s final moments after it was announced she passed away at just 17 years old on Monday.
Paying tribute to his beloved teenager (far right) in a statement shared on social media, which was also signed by his wife Kara and 15-year-old daughter Audrey, the politician explained that nothing out of the ordinary had occurred in the hours before Gwen’s untimely death. She enjoyed a nice family dinner on Sunday before heading out to see some friends. It was later that night when they shared what would become their last moment together, he wrote:
“When she got home, she said goodnight to Kara and I, texted a friend to make sure she got home OK, and didn’t wake up on Monday morning.”
Few details have been released about Gwen’s cause of death. The Dupage County coroner in Illinois told E! News that “her passing is under investigation.” For now, the family believes it was “peaceful,” the statement continued:
“The only thing that we know about her death is that it was peaceful.”
As you can imagine, the family is deeply mourning the loss of their loved one. The Congressman decided to take a moment to reflect on what made Gwen such an impressive young woman, noting:
“There are no words to describe the hole in your heart when a child dies. Gwen was a happy, healthy, well adjusted young woman who was looking forward to starting her freshman year at the University of Vermont where she was planning to study Environmental Sciences.”
She also played the trumpet in her school’s Jazz Band and during their production of Mary Poppins. Just like her father, she was an activist hoping to make positive changes to the world around her. Inspired to do more after the Parkland High School shooting, she created the Empowerment Club at her school which focused on “everything from gun violence prevention to environmental protection to LGBTQ ally ship to organizing Black Lives Matter rallies to registering students to vote.” Amazing!
Perhaps most importantly, the family recalled how generous and kind she was to those around her, adding:
“She had the good fortune to have a community of good friends, teachers and family and the good wisdom to realize how much she owed them. If her light seemed a bit brighter than most it was because she was so generous in reflecting back the light and love that so many gave to her.”
The family is now using the truly heartbreaking loss as a reminder to live in the present and never take anything for granted, saying:
“The only lesson we can take from that is to savor the moments you have with your loved ones. We want purpose. We want to believe in a brighter tomorrow. But the only thing we can control is our present.”
They hope others will do the same, concluding:
“We are grateful to all who have reached out with thoughts, condolences and help. To all asking what they can do, we ask only that you live your lives as Gwen lived hers. Savor the moments. Use every ounce of energy you have to ensure a better, more tolerant, more generous, more loving tomorrow. Not because you know that your tomorrow will come, but because you know that someone else’s will. Lead with Love. – Sean, Kara, and Audrey Casten.”
Just so sad. We are sending love to all of Gwen’s family and friends as they mourn this unexpected and tragic death. May she rest in peace.