Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Funeral #2

Angel Comforting by J. Kirk Richards

We had been home from funeral number one for a only a few minutes when the phone rang. It was Paul's dad. Paul turned to me and said, "My dad says we need to have a funeral in Utah." "Why?" I asked, a little frustrated by the idea that I was not being listened to. "He said everyone is coming to town and we really should have a funeral." I was annoyed, "Why are people coming? Hardly anyone even met him." "Rachel, they are coming for us." I was humbled, "Oh . . . okay."

Paul's dad was right, everyone was there. Stanleys, Burgoynes, Putnams, Packs, and Rodgers were all there as well as dear friends and neighbors. The second funeral was just as lovely as the first. Paul spoke using Sheri's talk as a template, Grandpa Paul spoke too. My favorite part was when Joshua and Jared sang Nearer My God To Thee. It was so beautiful. It all made me happy though. I think it's strange that I don't remember a lot of details from that day, I don't even remember what building it was in.

I only remember two things from the graveside service. I remember the bagpipes playing quietly while we emerged for our cars and walked to the little grave. I also remember looking at the sky and thinking of another family huddle around another tiny grave. There was one other funeral in town the day we buried our Joshua. I didn't know them but I knew of them. They had lost two children in one year and that day they were laying their second child to rest.

~It doesn't matter what you are going through, there is always someone who has it harder than you do.

This is where some of my memories might be skewed. It seems like I didn't know about that other family until after the day of the funeral but I remember thinking about them at the graveside. I wonder which memory is correct.

During this time I felt a very real but intangible protection from my grief and the horror of our child's death. I remember worrying that I was going mad because I didn't cry at the second funeral in fact I didn't feel sad. Instead I loved it. I loved the songs. I loved what was said. I loved seeing the family and old friends. I remember the funeral as a happy experience.

About two years later, I found the recording of the funeral. Remembering the funeral fondly and thinking I was going to enjoy the time listening to it, I put the cassette tape into the player and to listen to it. I pushed play. After about three seconds I turned it off, only because I couldn't reach it sooner. I was shocked, the sadness and heartbreak in the voice I heard was startling and more than I could bear. I couldn't listen to it. I never tried to again.

My memory might not be perfect but there are to things I know. First, it was not a happy occasion, no matter how I remember it. Second, I was protected and loved in many different ways during that very difficult time.