Sunday, February 21, 2010

Part Three, The Funeral

*If you need to catch up, check out Part One and Part Two*

So I finally made it home. I went by my parents' house to pick a couple of things up, then I headed over to *E*'s parents' house, where the family had gathered. When I turned on to their street, I could tell that the house was going to be completely full. I parked, and as I started walking towards the house, *E*'s dad came out and gave me a huge hug. To finally be with people with whom I could truly mourn was a huge relief. I don't know if he will ever know how much that hug meant to me. 
Coming up to the house, an outsider never would have known the tragedy that had so recently struck. My nieces and their cousins were running around playing, and it may have appeared as just another big family gathering. Once I walked in, I was instantly surrounded by *E*'s mom and aunts. Hugs were coming from every side, and I heard somebody say "Your sister's here." Looking up, *E* and *D* were coming my way. I could breathe again. 
After just a few moments of greetings and memories (*E* told me that he had always considered *A* to be the perfect mix of his mom and me. *A* had his mom's attitude and sass and my way of thinking and creativity), *E* and *D* rounded up their kids and we all headed out. *A*'s funeral was going to be the following day (Wednesday) in the town where *E*'s grandparents lived, about 45 minutes away. *E* had grown up there, and he had family members (including one of his grandfathers) buried in the cemetery there, the cemetery where *A* is. 
On the ride to his grandparent's house, a lot of memories and quiet discussion happened amongst *E*, *D*, the three kids and me. They told me that they had been able to heal and mourn so deeply the past few days because of the amazing support system that they had. They told me that they were going to be ok. We all reminded each other that as much as we wished we could have had more time with *A*, we shouldn't feel sad for her. We should be sad for ourselves, because we'll miss her, but not for her. It seems so trite to say that she's in a better place, but it's the truth. She's not hurting anymore. She doesn't have to take a round of meds every day anymore. She doesn't have to get blood drawn or any other medical tests ever again. She doesn't have any scars from surgery anymore. She's happy, whole, and perfect.
It was on that ride that I was really able to feel more at peace, knowing that they were truly going to be ok. 
That night was full of talking, laughing, and enjoying each other's company at *E*'s grandparents' house. We all knew that the next day would be rough, but for those few hours, we wanted to talk and remember and just be together.
Nobody was ready to wake up the next morning. If we woke up, it meant that we had to go through with the day. It meant that we would have to say goodbye. It seemed so final. We did all arise, though, and eventually we set out. I had promised *D* the night before that I would photograph everything. Every flower would be documented. So, armed with *D*'s camera, we headed to the church for a long day, starting with the viewing. I'm not sure what I would have done without that camera. With it, I was able to say goodbye and mourn in my own way.
The day passed in a cloud of pink. Pink flowers, pink ribbons, pink neck ties... Everywhere I looked, there was more pink. We listened to *A*'s favorite song, a Hannah Montana number about a little girl leaving home, "Butterfly Fly Away"...

"You tucked me in
Turned out the light
Kept me safe and sound at night
Little girls depend on things like that
Brushed my teeth and combed my hair
Had to drive me every where
You were always there when I looked back
You had to do it all alone
Make a living, make a home
Must have been as hard as it could be
And when I couldn't sleep at night
Scared things wouldn't turn out right
You would hold my hand and sing to me
Caterpillar in the tree
Have you wonder who you'll be
Can't go far but you can always dream
Wish you may and wish you might
Don't you worry, hold on tight
I promise you there will come a day
Butterfly fly away
Butterfly fly away
Got your wings now you can't stay
Take those dreams and make them all come true
Butterfly fly away
You've been waiting for this day
All along and known just what to do
Butterfly fly away
Butterfly fly away
Butterfly fly away"

By the time the funeral began, the small church was overflowing with people who had been touched by our little girl. People were standing all around, spilling out into the entry way...
As we headed to the cemetery, the weather was miming our emotions. A cold wind was blowing, and rain began to fall as we parked. Cold and wet, we said goodbye to *A*. When they had finished lowering her, everyone released pink balloons. It was over.


Julie said...

Lauren, I am so sorry. I know I keep saying this, but I am. hugs

Jessica said...

Thank you for having the courage to share such a personal experience. I love you so much and haven't stopped praying for you and your family. <3

Stacey said...

Oh Lauren I am so so so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.