Wednesday and Thursday were the viewing. Although we were split on whether we should actually have one, it seemed like some of us – and maybe others – needed it as a necessary step.
We had decided to wait until Wednesday late afternoon to go since the last of my family couldn’t arrive until then. When we arrived, the waiting line was down the hall to the door. I felt really bad passing all those people who had been waiting. At the front of the line was a young boy and his mother I didn’t know…one of Jason’s math students, maybe? Poor kid – we just walked right in front of him, and he had to wait until we were done.
Oh, my precious boy. He looked like Jason, but you could tell he wasn’t really there. My boy, so full of life, love, laughter – gone, an empty shell. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” I just wanted him back with us.
The family graveside service was on Thursday afternoon. It was a cold, rainy day. The limousine from the funeral home came to pick us up so we, as the family, could all ride in one car. It was the first time I had ridden in a limo.
What an incredibly tough day. I could hardly lift my head, but I kept looking up at the casket. How could that really be Jason? How can that be his name printed on the vault? How can this be? We had bought red, long-stemmed roses so that whoever wanted to could place one on top of the casket and have a chance to say goodbye. Jason was known for giving flowers, especially roses, to people he cared about. It seemed like the right thing to do.
After the service, the people we considered extended family from our old church came over. Later in the afternoon, some of the girls Jenna’s age decided they wanted to go to Starbucks. They hadn’t seen each other for a while, were acting like it was some long-awaited get-together, and wanted to go get coffee. Because they weren’t familiar with the area, they asked Jenna to drive…to the exact Starbucks where Jason, Jenna and Alina had gone for coffee the day before….right past the accident site. What an awful thing to ask of Jenna!
I know they were young…they had no idea about the Starbucks…or that they would have to go right by the accident site…but, asking Jenna to drive them? Wow! It was not safe for her to drive! Thankfully, someone else realized what was going on and stepped in to drive.
It snowed on Friday morning, the day of the memorial service…just a little…enough to stick and then melt mid-morning. I watched it fall, but felt none of the usual amazement at the beauty of falling snow.
We finished gathering items to take to the memorial service – framed pictures; Jason’s top hat and white gloves. I wanted to (but didn’t) take every picture album I had put together since Jason was born, just so everyone could see what a great guy he was…and maybe, just maybe, have an inkling of how much we had lost. How can you portray the life, the heart, the love of a person through one dimensional pictures? It’s not possible.
Seeing Jason’s picture up on the big screens in the sanctuary as we walked in the church took my breath away – not in the “Wow, that’s incredible” way…more in the “someone punched me in the stomach and I can’t breathe” way.
It’s odd. In times of great grief, I think your mind and body pull on the resources and patterns they know. A numbness protects you while basic instincts and patterns kick in. I know that I talked to people – bunches of people. We stood in the receiving line for a long time…greeting, hugging, comforting people who had attended the service. People probably thought we were strong. In reality, I was just numb and doing the basic things I knew how to do so I wouldn’t fall apart.
“Moonlight Sonata” (Jason’s favorite classical piece), “Awesome God” (one of Jason’s favorite songs as a kid), violin solo by one of Jason’s good friends, self-composed music by my nephew, picture slide show, eulogy. (I am so thankful for the church staff who scanned all those pictures and put together the wonderful slide show…almost 20 minutes long! – what an incredible gift of love!) We had asked the pastor to preach a salvation message at the memorial service, thinking it might be the only time some people ever go into a church. It was a very nice service.
Saturday was Alina’s graveside and memorial services. So many people having to deal with the loss of two great young adults! We went to the memorial service, but left soon afterward. We were exhausted.
I honestly remember very little else about the rest of that week. Much of it is a fog…punctuated by very clear memories. I know I went to Alina’s viewing, but I don’t remember who went with me. I know people brought us food, picked up and delivered family to the airport, took care of things for us. I am so incredibly thankful they did. We couldn’t have done it alone.