Although I was still in some pain in the days leading up to the funeral, the physical healing was progressing but emotionally, I was in unspeakable pain and barely surviving, most moments were uncertain in my mind. It’s really impossible to explain in words…as if the ground has fallen away or the heart inside me was being squeezed unmercifully. I was, of course, constantly thinking of my two boys and my little girl. I searched everywhere for signs they were with me or at least that they were alright.
I kept thinking about my boys’ little heads against my cheek as I said good bye for the final time in the hospital. I kept thinking about how cool they were. It was with so much love that I prepared their clothes to give to the funeral man. The hospital had given me two impossibly tiny white satin and lace gowns and although beautiful, I just couldn’t put them into the ground with those on. They were too formal and too scratchy. I had bought two sleepers at a Mothers of Multiples sale and although these were used, they were soft and sweet for Jack and Aaron to rest in. Their cool heads nagged at me and I wished I had hats for them. I was in no state to go out into the public and buy hats but I did have two blankets a friend had given me. I carefully laundered the sleepers and blankets and although I knew they would be swallowed up in the newborn clothing, I was satisfied with the softness and warmth.
I made sure to ask the funeral man to please make sure their heads were covered. I would not bear the thought of them being uncovered and cold underground. Something as small as that could have broken me.
It was a nice day, a warm autumn day. The 17th of September. I couldn’t control my emotions on the way to the chapel. I could barely breath. I know my parents and I talked on the way there but what we spoke of, I don’t now know. I remember thinking I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the strength to put a third and fourth child in the ground. When we got to the chapel, the funeral man wasn’t ready so people were standing around. It was a small crowd, just Em and her mother and sister and my two good friends, MB and MC and Pastor J along with my immediate family. I just sat in the car. We all sat there for a long time. I whispered that I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t do it. Finally, my dad got out of the car and I followed suit. Em and others came up to me and said things and hugged me. I guess I responded. I know I whispered to Paster J that I didn’t think I was strong enough to do this again.
Finally, the funeral man arrived and two men carried the terribly small white box from the car. Just as with Greyson, at the first glimpse of the coffin, I crumbled and started screaming beginning with the words, “Oh My God”, everyone who had been chatting abruptly went silent as I doubled over. I was in so much pain I thought I was going to die. It was difficult to breath, my heart was pounding and I gasped for air between shrieks. I know now I was near hysteria. I don’t know how long this went on. I felt the women close ranks around me and my mother held me tightly. Eventually, I calmed enough that Pastor J came up to me and took my hands. She told me to take just one step at a time and she walked backwards leading me into the chapel and never letting go of my hands. Em was there too…beside me and she held my arm maybe? I remember she gave way so that I could sit between my parents in the small pew.
My mother grasped my hand and cried into a handkerchief. I will never forget my father crying in the pew next to me. I’d only seen him cry twice before. I felt Em’s surprise at being acknowledged and given gratitude during the service. The box was so small…I imagined them in the there, so still and I thought about those cool little heads. Somehow the weirdness of the flowers registered in my mind. I’d asked for two white and one pink rose simply tied together but the arrangement actually looked like a miniature casket arrangement that an adult would have. It resembled the top of a wedding cake and the pink rose was sticking up above the rest and it looked strange to me.
Pastor J so beautifully celebrated Jack, Aaron and Mavis Emily’s short lives with her words. In our planning meeting, I had mentioned that I thought the brothers were already tearin’ it up in Heaven by now with their cowboy boots. I thought of their older brother trying to round them up. I kept thinking about that sound cowboy boots make, especially on the feet of little ones who love to hear themselves stomp and clatter in their new boots.
Afterwards, Pastor J and I sit for a few minutes alone in the chapel. I tell her how heartbroken I am and unsure of my own survival but that the frighteningly cold Godless fog I’d experienced after Greyson didn’t seem to be hitting me this time. We prayed together, I think. Soon I have that same feeling as I’d had with Greyson. That if I stay in that room much longer, I will put that box into my purse or under my jacket and try to take it home with me. Shouldn’t sweet baby boys who are loved beyond belief be with their mothers? On the way out, I ask the funeral man if their heads are covered and he says they are.
It was all so far from normal and natural that my mind, heart and body can’t really process or accept it. Every cell in my body rejects it and sometimes I can’t quite believe my family and I went through this experience. Even now I have moments when I wonder if I was really there.
Pastor J’s service follows. It seems long written here but it was not a very long service. I’m sure about 20 minutes. I’m pretty sure she omitted the poem about everybody being beautiful..I have no recollection of hearing that at all but who knows? I was so grief stricken, anything could have gone on. I do know Pastor J. didn’t adhere strictly to this as it is written and I’m sorry to say that I’ve let to much time elapse to remember everything I wanted to. One thing I do remember, is that she spoke of them being “sparks of joy”. I wondered then and since I never asked her, I still wonder if someone told her that I called them my Sparks because I’m sure I never mentioned it to her.
Service of Life and Resurrection of Jack D. and Aaron W.
Gentle God, Creator and Savior, Giver of all life and Forgiver of all the living, we thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus, the Christ, who suffered, dies, and was raised by you so that we may know the fullness of risen life. We remember that Jesus Christ lifted children into loving arms to embrace and bless them. We ask you to embrace and bless Jack and Aaron so that by grace their lives will be brought to fullness and peace through dying and rising with Christ. Help them to feel your loving presence and our loving presence in everything around them and to trust in your grace as you lead us to our eternal home.
The Word of Grace
Jesus Said, I am the resurrection and I am life.
Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet shall they live,
And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore,
And I hold the keys of hell and death. Because I live, you shall live also.
Dying, Christ destroyed our death.
Rising, Christ restored our life.
As in baptism, Jack D. and Aaron W. put on Christ.
So in Christ they are now clothed with glory.
Here and now, dear friends, we are God’s children
We become pure, as Christ is pure.
Cowboy Boots in Heaven –
The title that I choose to use for our time together is entitled, “Cowboy Boots in Heaven.” One thing I noticed as we held the Jack and Aaron was how long their feet were! They were perfect little boys! They had little nostrils, little ears, and little lips. Their fingers and toes—all looked perfect! But, my goodness, their feet were so long. Their legs were so long! Jack weighed 16 ounces. Aaron weighed 15 oz, and I wonder if half their weight was attributed to their feet! So —-I can imagine that as they have found their matching cowboy boots in heaven, how they must be “kickin’ it up,” in front of the place of Jesus.
Accompanied by their Sister – And Brother!
And I also wonder if Jack and Aaron have met their Sister, Mavis Emily and of course, brother, Greyson P. Some of you already know that when Paige was first pregnant, there were three. Today, in remembering Jack and Aaron, we remember Mavis Emily. What a precious little girl in the midst of two little guys. And, we know that Greyson has come to meet his brothers and sister. And when the time comes, when the time is right for each of us to return home to meet Jesus, we will recognize this family of little children.
Thank You, Em! –
And, Em we recognize you this day for the wonderful gift that you have given to this family of yourself. Just as we see the slightly pink rose in the bouquet, we are reminded of your tender and delicate gift that your compassionate and willing spirit shared. Thank you, Em for your love to Paige and us.
Scripture Reading – Matthew 19:13-15
“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as them.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”
As we sat in the office at W Funeral Home yesterday, Paige, Bill and Linda, we all agreed that this verse was one of the most appropriate verses to share in this service of the celebration of life that was given to Jack D and Aaron W. Just to recount the moments that were shared in one of the most holy hospital rooms last Thursday, we begin with the way in which Paige labored and we prayed all through the day. Of course, our first prayer was to ask God to save the children. We kept getting reports from the doctors and nurses that life isn’t viable at 21 weeks. But, our prayers were prayed with an attitude of asking God to deny all predictions and grant sustained life. We prayed 6 times in the midst of that one day. We began to have the sense that we weren’t just laboring for the life of two little boys, but we were laboring together in the spirit of God and experiencing the love of God in a very intimate way, almost experiencing the Kingdom of God in the smallest of hospital rooms.
When the boys were born, their little lives took over the entire room. We shuffled and cradled Jack and Aaron in their little swaddling clothes, one after the other. Jack was born 6 minutes before Aaron. I had just the right amount of time to baptize Jack D in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I had the privilege to whisper in his little ear, “Jack, you are a precious child of God.” Then 6 minutes later, Aaron was born. He was placed upon the breast of Paige. All of a sudden her arms were filled with enormous love. I then baptized Aaron W. in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And, I had the privilege to whisper in Aaron’s ear, “Aaron, you are a precious child of God.” The next two hours were filled with a place of holiness that we had never experience before. We had the feeling that pain was right around the corner. We suspected that the time of our ability to celebrate their life was limited. None of us were unaware of what seemed to be the inevitable. But, for that moment, in that time, Jack D and Aaron W invited us into the Kingdom of God. The time was precious. The time was sweet. The time was holy. The time was a gift from God. The love of these children invited us into a place of holiness, tenderness, love, dreams, created memories. And it is those memories that bring us to a place today to celebrate their lives. We know that it sounds ironic, or even impossible to use the word celebration in the same sentence of two baby boys that had such short lives.
Just as God knows who we are and where we are today, we remembered that promise with Greyson’s funeral and even read the same text in the hospital room one week ago. Today the text still rings true!
Psalm 139 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar, Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Jesus loves the little children
All the little children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
Everything is beautiful
In its’ own way
Like a starry summer night
Or a snow covered winter’s day
In their own way
Under God’s heaven
The world’s gonna find a way
There is none so blind
That is he who will not see
We must not close our minds
We must let our thought be free
For every hour that passes by
You know the world
Gets a little bit older
It’s time to realize
That beauty lies
In the eyes of the beholder
Everything is beautiful
In its’ own way
Like a starry summer nights
Or a snow covered winter’s day
Ah, sing it children
In their own way
Under God’s heaven
The world’s gonna find a way
God, we praise you for the great company of all those who have finished their course in faith and now rest from their labor. We praise you for those dear to us whom we name in our hearts before you. Especially we praise you for the lives of Jack and Aaron and Mavis and Greyson, whom you have graciously received into your presence. To all of these, grant your peace. Let perpetual light shine upon them; and help us so to believe where we have not seen, That your presence may lead us through our years, and bring us at last with them into the joy of your home not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Paige’s Favorite Children’s Book, Love You Forever – “I’ll Love You Forever, I’ll like You Always, Forever and Ever My Babies You Will Be.”
Dismissal with Blessing
Sweet Dreams © Kimberly L. Brennan-Smith
Sweet Dreams my darling, the day is done.
The moon is here to say goodnight to the sun.
Gather your blankets and climb into bed.
Close your eyes and lay down your head.
Rest for now with peaceful dreams,
Of twinkling stars and shining moon beams.
Sweet dreams my darling, sweet dreams my love,
Sweet dreams my precious gift from above.
Source: A Lullaby, Sweet Dreams, Baby Poem
Now may the God of peace
Make you complete in everything good
So that you may do his will,
Working among us that which is pleasing in his sight,
Through Jesus Christ;
To whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Fellowship at Paige’s House immediately following!