I’m at a point in this posting journey of The Funeral itself.
Who on this earth wants to recount an event like this?
I remember waking up to it finally being the day. Because all in all the day of my son’s Funeral had painstakingly arrived after nine days of waiting.
Many of those days I don’t even know the reason why the delay…but the last two were due to request by the family because the scheduled Funeral was to be on the birthday of Michael’s oldest son. That could not happen. No. We would not allow that to happen. The Viewing was on his birthday…and that was hard enough.
But if there was anything to be grateful for it was the fact that The Funeral was scheduled for early in the morning. I could do that. It would have been far too hard to sit through any more hours.
So I pulled myself out of bed early and made myself ready.
Waited in the lobby for my CAO to come in his trusty white van to drive us to The Funeral home.
During the entire drive, I kept thinking about the many times I had wondered what it would be like to be in a situation up close and personal like this. What do people do and what do they think on a day they have to bury someone they deeply love. How do they go through the motions?
How when you see a funeral procession as you are driving along and you pull over to the side and wonder who is in the Hearse and who are in the cars immediately behind it. Find yourself thinking about death for a few short minutes. Then drive away forgetting.
Here I was first hand and there was no driving away.
All I can tell you is that you simply do it. Because there is no alternative.
It was about a thirty minute drive with my heart thumping in my chest and mind locked into as neutral as I could put it.
There was a slowing of the van as we came near the funeral home. I looked up as we came along the drive.
All along the road and in front of the building were men holding up flags. Dozens of men and women with motorcycles. Outlining the road and the driveway. Two standing in front of the door to the building.
All there honoring my son.
Their presence notifying all who drove by that someone important had died. Yes, this said it loud and clear.
Inside this building lies a boy. A boy who loved and served and now has died.
When the van stopped, I could not get out soon enough.
I wanted to thank them. I had to tell them how grateful I was. How grateful Michael would be.
I ran to them. I remember the grass was wet and my sandals were slipping.
I went straight to the man in the center…told him who I was. I shook his hand. The look on his face, surprised. Taken back a little.
He told me it was his honor.
Oh! His honor!
Yes, mine, too.
It felt so amazing to look into all of their faces. Shake their hands and tell them Thank You. Let them know how grateful I was that they stood watch over us on this most horrible day of our lives. I will never forget you.
Once inside I was immediately ushered to a back room. Everything was so incredibly systematic. I remember thinking how all of this was so incredibly organized.
Easy for a heartbroken and traumatized Momma like me.
All I had to do was follow instructions.
So I did. I simply went where I was told.
The waiting was torture. And like a dream.
There are things here to write…so many things. I will save the little details for another day.
But what I want to tell you now is that I truly believed I would see my son one last time.
I thought the casket would be open. I really did.
I wanted to see him one last time.
But when we walked down that aisle to our assigned pew I saw that they had closed that coffin. Locked it up and draped a flag over it.
At this I was overwhelmed. Angry. Deeply disappointed. Devastated.
Sitting through that service was so hard. So many little things happened and so many insights gained. Again, things to be shared for another day.
But what I really want to tell you…what I have to tell you is this.
The absolute HARDEST part of this entire thing. Harder than the first phone call. Harder than the first steps into that Hospital room. Harder than the making of any decision. Harder than any single moment of this entire experience.
The most excruciating moment was when they started to turn his coffin toward the aisle and walk him out the door.
No. I could not have it. I could not.
I found myself calling out. Telling everyone to wait. Wait! Please!
I swear to you I do not know what compelled me. Well, yes, I do.
I was so occupied during the Viewing that I did not take a minute to say Goodbye.
I forgot to say Goodbye.
So right there in front of everyone, I ran toward the coffin.
Threw myself on it and cried. Shamelessly Wailed. I remember seeing my tears splash on the lid of it and begin to roll down the side.
I smothered the top of it with kisses.
I was so unaware of my surroundings. I did not care.
This was it. This was my boy! This was it.
I would never see him again.
No matter what anyone said about Heaven or seeing him in Eternity. Those things made no sense to me just then. All I knew is that my son was in this box. In a closed box! About to be taken away from me.
I felt a hand on my elbow a few seconds later. I looked up to see the sweet Chaplain’s face. He was talking to me sweetly, calmly.
Telling me that I could let it out. Yes, let it out. You can cry. It is alright to cry. You are loved.
I turned to walk back to my assigned pew and in front of me saw the row of Michael’s children.
Every single one of them crying. Their faces so sad and in so much pain.
It was so, so hard to see. Their pain was so hard for me.
So I went to each and every one…all five from youngest to oldest. Kissed their faces and to each one said…
He loves you.
He loves you.
He loves you.
He loves you.
He loves you.