I went to a Memorial Service last night. My dear friend, “Em”, lost her cheer coach,as the result of a tragic accident. He was smack-dab in the midst of embracing life, his time, his talents, his gifts and sharing them selflessly with all who knew him and even those that did not. I went to the service to support my friend. I had met this man once. I think I cried harder than anyone there.
As we were walking into the church for the service it dawned on me that this would be the first memorial or funeral I had been to since Madeline’s. The circumstance and my purpose for being there seemed different enough so while at first choked up I was not worried about pulling myself together.
But then a switch flipped inside my head and a slide show started to play. You know, like a power point presentation where the slides flip and flash at you. Like that.
The first slide was of Madeline’s funeral and being hugged by another Mother who had buried her child. I remember thinking “Wow she never met Madeline, she is really upset.” Now I know, she wasn’t as much crying for Madeline as she was for my loss, for my pain, and for my future. My future without my Baby Girl.
The second slide was at home, in my room, a week or so after Madeline’s funeral, talking to a woman on the phone. The nursing company who cared for Madeline had connected me with this woman in hopes that it would be of some comfort. Funny, I cannot recall the woman’s name, as many events from the initial months without Madeline are a blur. But her words, those I remember, those I will never forget, those words and her voice played as in Dolby sound. She said in a broken voice, “I want you to know that although I never met your beautiful daughter, I have already cried for her, and for you, and I am so sorry. I am just so sad for you and I wanted you to know that first thing.” I said, “thank you.” I didn’t get it, really. But now, now I get it. And the floodgates opened.
Slideshows played of this amazing man showing a face that radiated joy and a spirit and dedication that drew others to him. It was a life cut too short. The minister put it in more literal terms. The Lord had given him just over 10,000 days and he had lived each one “full out.” He was an amazing coach and mentor to my friend and all those on his teams and I am so sad for those girls.
But he was also someone much more important than a coach. He was a son. At 27 he was someone’s baby. And for this I cried…a lot. For a mother who buried her child.
His mother got up and spoke. She was amazingly strong. This made me cry harder. She told us he was her “only child and her whole world.” And he was taken from her in the blink of an eye.
The man with him at the time of his death came up and hugged the Mother. A slide flashed in my head of “Our Hannah” who shared Madeline’s last minutes. And I cried some more. For life and how it can take a cruel turn and someone becomes a new central figure in your life because they were blessed with the last minutes of your child’s life. And for his Mom, who now has this bond, I cried some more.
Seeing her incredible strength I thought of the blur she must be in and the raw, numb feeling I remembered. And I prayed for her. I pray for her days and years to come and though a woman of strong faith, there will be days when that will not soothe the constant ache in her heart. I thought of the people in my life, the bond we never wanted to share and the tears they have cried for me and I for them. And the day will come when this Mother will do the same… cry tears for another Mom… another Mom who will bury her child, because that’s how a Mother’s love goes around.