Yesterday's service for the young man who was my coworkers son was beautiful. It was a celebration, filled with memories, sayings, favourite things, wishes & hopes. There were tears flowing, none of which were mine. Just like every other first, it was nothing like I imagined. I thought of Conrad, James, Meme & of all of the angel babies I have come to know & more. I stood stoic, in disbelief that I was there again for another son lost to soon.
The service, in the same funeral home, was in a different chapel. The turn out was so large that 2 viewing rooms were opened to accommodate all those paying their respects. The 2nd room was opened just after we arrived & was the room where we held our service. I had a moment of panic & refused to go in, making our way into the first. As I stood there, I realized, I had a rare opportunity, to confront that space on my own terms.
After the service, we saw my coworker & although I expected nothing more then for her to see us, she pushed her way through the crowd towards me & grabbed my hand & gave me a hug. Here's the irony, we are not close, I don't think she knows about James but somehow a bond between us has formed through her son's passing. Perhaps it's that I responded with food for her & her family right away, perhaps it's because I asked for no acknowledgement, that I just wanted her to have what she needs & feel supported. Perhaps its because I look at her in the eyes, once you look death in the face through your child, you can never avert your eyes again.
People spoke of what is must be like to lose a child, lose a child. I said out loud only once, unfortunately I know. I said several times to those with children, you have to cherish every moment because you never know how long you have them. I think that everyday. I breathe my boys in everyday, feel their warmth as if it might be the last time & wonder how long I will have them for. They are so special, I worry that their time will be over too soon, that they will have served their purpose before I am ready to see them go.
The sober reality of a parent who has lost a child.
When I entered "the" room, I was alone & it all came rushing back, I could see his casket, I smell his flowers, feel the knee buckling grief & lost my breath entirely. I acknowledged the pain, felt his presence, nodded in what I felt was his direction & left as quickly as I entered.
I didn't sleep last night, flashes of the Conrad's face in my mind & heavy heart. The emptiness of my heart without one of my sons & compassion for one more who has to find her way through without hers.