Thomas G. Cavanagh Memorial Fund


When Tom died, his father prayed for a sign somewhere along the way to let him know that this was somehow part of God’s plan and that Tom was at peace. Tom’s father had worn #9 throughout his hockey career and that was Tom’s number as well. The day after he died, his parents went to the funeral home to make arrangements. They had never selected burial lots for themselves and the director suggested they choose three lots together. After walking around St. Patrick Cemetery for some time, they were shown an area with three lots together. The director asked which of the three would be Tom’s. They chose one of the lots on the side so that they could lie next to each other with Tom beside them. The director asked if they were sure of this arrangement, they told him yes. He then reached into his files, pulled out a map of the thousands of lots in the cemetery, and said, "OK then, Tom will lie in lot number 9."

A few days later, on January 11, 2011, Tom’s funeral Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Mercy church in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The burial rite immediately followed. As Tom’s family and friends surrounded his gravesite, the three priests performed the burial rite. There was a reading from Scripture, an Our Father, and some other prayers. At the close of the rite, the three priests sang the Salve Regina. During the prayer, the bell tower at the church tolled twelve noon. Then, they prayed the final prayer, "Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us."

At this point the funeral director stepped in with the closing formalities, thanking everyone on behalf of our family for their love and support and announcing that all were free to leave the cemetery. Right at that moment there appeared in the sky on the southeastern horizon a large rainbow with light pouring out beneath it. Amazingly, directly above the gravesite, in the middle of a bright blue sky, appeared a second rainbow. This one had bold, bright colors and amazingly took the shape of an upside-down arch that looked like a big smile right in the middle of the sky. Above the conventional rainbow there were two streaks of light and clouds that made vertical and horizontal axes in the shape of a cross. Above the cross, a trail of light and clouds continued upwards until it connected the two rainbows. What had been the most somber of moods moments earlier had turned to joy. People were smiling, cheering and laughing with amazement. Many saw it as a sign from heaven that Tom was finally at peace.

On April 28, 2012, Tom’s cousin Mark celebrated his bachelor party in Charlestown, Rhode Island. Mark lived next door to Tom growing up and the two of them shared a unique bond of friendship, particularly as Tom’s mental health declined over the last year of his life. On that day, Mark and a group of about twenty men, including Tom’s father, brothers, cousin, uncle and several best friends from childhood were gathered in a field playing softball under a bright blue sky. Late in the afternoon, Tom’s cousin John glanced up in the sky and noticed some colors forming. Soon there appeared another double rainbow. Again, the top one was upside down in the shape of smile. They remained in the sky for over an hour as the group laughed, cried, stared in amazement and enjoyed their softball game with another sign that their beloved friend was at peace and smiling down on them.