Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Funeral

After your burial on Sept 16, the mortuary gave us a copy of your funeral on tape. It has sat in the drawer of your room since then. We don't have a tape player any more to even be able to listen to it. But it doesn't matter, I haven't felt strong enough to revisit that day again.

I do realize that one day I will want those words, however. And so I borrowed a tape player from a friend, and then I let it sit for two weeks. Finally on Sunday I summoned up the courage to listen to it while typing the sweet words of comfort and peace spoken by our fathers and our bishop.

Listening to the service brought that day back so vividly in my mind. We went first thing to dress you and to sit with you before others would arrive. I was anxious to see you again. You were so beautiful that day in the hospital. You seemed so alive. I expected at any moment to see you move your hand or open your eyes. But you looked nothing like this at the mortuary. It was clear that you were gone. That moment, that realization that I wouldn't get to see you like I did after your birth or hold you like I did then, it nearly ripped my heart out. The only pain I have felt worse then that moment was when I had to hand you over for good to the nurse the day after you were born. I will forever be grateful to the nurse who took you, for she cried with us as I handed you to her. She held you tenderly as I was wheeled out of the room sobbing uncontrollably. I knew then that I would never fully recover from that moment. There are no words to describe the agony of that moment, but then again, who would ever want put such a horrible feeling into words. A piece of me died that day.

I remember your Dad carrying your casket, your lone pall-bearer. Just a few weeks before I had been volunteering at the NICU and listening to another parent volunteer relate a story of going to a baby's funeral and watching the dad carry the baby out in the casket. She said he was trying so hard to be brave, but that you could see tears streaming down his face. She said it was the most heartbreaking thing she had ever seen. I remember thinking I was glad I wasn't there to see such a heartwrenching sight. Yet here I was, several weeks later, watching it all play out before me. Only this time it was happening to me and it was my husband carrying his child's casket in his arms and tyring to be brave as tears streamed down his cheeks.

I went running in the cemetery a few days ago. Six and a half months of doing nothing while pregnant (ironically, for fear that something might happen to you) and then another 3 months of living only a half-life has left my body feeling like jell-o. I ran for less than a minute before I thought my legs and lungs would completely shut down. So I walked instead. I walked through the enormous cemetery looking at headstones and mourning others' losses. At times I even became jealous when I'd see a headstone (I know, silly to be jealous of a headstone) and see the number of children etched into the stone: 5, 6, 7, some with more (this is Utah after all). My headstone will only bare 3 names, and only 2 of those will I get to raise. I always wanted to be the one with 6 names on my headstone. I think I would have liked having that many children very much. Heck, at this moment I'd be overjoyed with just three. But in reality I only get two in this life and no more. Oh, how that hurts!

I walked past a burial that day. I saw the hearse parked carefully on the road and I thought about the day that Dad and I rode in the back of a hearse just like it with you in the middle seat. What a surreal moment that was, to know that I've seen hearses thousands of times and never once did I think it might one day carry one of my precious children inside. Anger and pain and heartache ripped through me and I felt myself running. Running harder than I ever have before. I couldn't outrun the pain or the reality of my life, but at least I could run until my legs and head and lungs were hurting as much as my soul.

I've felt my body growing stronger over the past several weeks as I've begun exercising again. But as I listened to your funeral some more today (I can only listen to a few minutes at a times before I am bawling and can't see the computer to type anymore) I realized that my soul is getting stronger too. My love for God and family is stronger than ever before in my life.

I suppose there is some good coming from all of this after all.

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