We painted the world orange yesterday. I hope we did Owen proud. The church was flooded and it was a sea of orange. He was smiling.
The empty hole hit me when I realized I would never … ever … see his face again. From now on I only have pictures. On Thursday, I had the next day to see him before his surgery. When he went to surgery, I got to see him afterwards. After his surgery, I got to see him at his funeral. Now I’ll pick him up as ashes in a ceramic jar. Ashes. Dust.
When I walked onto church the first thing I saw was this ridiculous white hat on his head. I wanted it off. So we did. The body didn’t look anything like Owen. His lips were wrong. His ear was sagging. His head lumpy. That was not my child. We brought over a large picture so people could really meet my Owen. I almost shut the casket, but thought what would that change? Nothing. Leave it open so people could see the doll named Owen.
At 4:30 we had to cut the visitation line off. The sea of people just kept coming. Doug and I wanted to meet and see them all. Everything just happened for me. The line formed by itself. Drinks would appear in my hand, people reached out to hug me. Motions without much thought. Then it was time to start the service.
We asked those around to step out so we could be with our family. The partition was closed. We circled wound Owen. Jaden was in my arms. He didn’t want to be quiet, kept acting a bit crazy. But he wanted to be there and I wanted to hold him. We prayed, Jaden included. Then it was time. I took the cross out of his casket to hold during the service. They pushed me to the front of the family line. The mourning mother followed by her supporting family. I was to sit one chair in from the aisle. Shoes clicked on the tile floor, my parents each held my arms.
I found my chair, with tissues. We all stood. I watched Doug walk with Owen, his hand on top of the casket. The bagpipes started, and Doug lifted Owen. He carried our son in his arms, just as you would a sleeping baby. I was so proud of him. So very proud. Doug and I tucked in our baby for the last time. Then the service began.
Doug and I both chose to speak. Who knew Owen better than his parents? As I stood with Doug I didn’t know where to look. Was I strong enough to make eye contact with people or do I just look over doug’s shoulder at the paper? I looked up. People were sitting out of the church, the was no more room. There was so much orange and I realized so many more faces were there that I’d hadn’t seen yet. So many more people to thank.
Then it was my turn to talk. It got easier. I spoke right to Owen. Finding comfort in his picture. I hope he heard me and I hope I did him proud. The rest of the service was so special. The message was perfect, a little laugh and a few heavy moments. The music was my favorite –where I could sing along and raise up my prayers. How blessed we felt to have people honor him in such a perfect way.
Then it was over. The finger foods were out. More hugs. More greeting and more lines formed to talk to me. I wanted my family. The time in the hospital was so intimate and I didn’t have time to be with them. But we made it. By the end Doug was dragging me to get going. Dinner was waiting at the restaurant. He was right it was time.
I lost it once at the restaurant. The first person in two weeks told me no. How selfish am I? I didn’t ask for much, I don’t think, through this whole thing. I just wanted a little more time. Don’t let it be over quite yet. Just 30 more minutes. Or if you need to go, then let the others stay. Just don’t create another goodbye just yet. Your life will begin as normal tomorrow. You will go back to work and pick up where you left off. My new world just begins tomorrow. I start to build, I start to maybe feel. I just wasn’t ready for it to be over. The voice that yelled from my throat was not mine.
The night did eventually have to end. We went back to my parents house for a few more drinks. I lasted until my body started to shut down … literally falling sleep sitting up. And with that I slept. Slept long and hard.
Today is my first day in my broken world. Never to lay eyes on Owen’s real face again. Here goes nothing.