Category Archives: Owen’s Funeral

Amazing Grace

Tony Memmel – a wonderful man.  He has been a friend of the family for years … and he is an amazing musician.  We asked him to sing at Owen’s funeral and I was so amazed with the calmness his voice brought me through the service.  It seemed fitting for him to sing at Owen’s funeral as I had just bought Tony’s new CD and it’s pretty much all the music that Owen heard during his short life.  I used to play it on my iTunes while cooking – Owen usually in a bumbo on the kitchen table helping me cook.  His music is forever laced with my last memories of Owen.

He sang Amazing Grace … that song will never be the same again.  It resonated through the church and in my heart.  A few weeks later, I asked if he had ever recorded the song – he said no.  Then I jokingly asked him if he would consider calling me and singing it into my voicemail.  Ok I sort of meant it – I really wanted to hear him sing the song again 🙂

Then I received the gift of Owen’s Song.  The emotion that song has helped me feel – it’s incomprehensible.  Hearing him sing the song at his home shows … it’s brought me great pride for Owen, healing through belting out the words and strength to know that the song reaches others.

And then just when you think Tony has given me a gift that can’t be topped – he wrote a blog post yesterday.  It’s three videos – personal little performances of Owen’s Song and Amazing Grace.  THANK YOU TONY!  It caught my breath – made be hold it for just a second.  Then the thought “he remembered!”  It was a year ago that I joked with him about leaving a recording on my voicemail.  Tony is amazing … at singing and at just being an awesome person and friend.

This video shares a little bit of Owen’s funeral.  I often reflect that I didn’t write too much about my experience that day.  I was numb.  But this song helps you to understand the strength I find in music.  How I can get lost in the melody and the sound of someone else’s voice.  A little haven in the midst of everything going on … music helps me feel closer to God.  It’s at the very foundation of my faith.

Please join me for your very own mini concert by Tony and hear a little bit of Owen’s funeral.  >>CLICK HERE<<

Love, Mel



Filed under Owen's Funeral

The voice is back

I woke up today not knowing what to feel.  While I was in the shower memories flooded my thoughts and took over my body.  One year ago today Owen got sick.  It was the last time I saw his eyes alive.  Forever.

My family and I are bringing the Sussex Public Safety department a meal tonight – as a small sign of our thanks.  I had to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things … and the voice is back.  The one that screams in the back of my mind as anyone meets my eye – MY SON DIED!  I’m a grieving mother.  He died one year ago today!  How can you sit there and make small talk?  Can’t you see that I am different today than I was yesterday?  But time keeps moving and people keep smiling.  I’m different on the inside … unless you take the time to ask, you’d never know my story by just looking at me.

I’m nervous about bringing the meal tonight.  I wonder if I’ll recognize their faces.  I wonder if they even remember who I am.  Who Owen was.  Will they be happy to see us?  Will is be somber and a time of respect?  I guess I just don’t know what to expect.

I want them to know that I have said thank you to them each and every day for the past 365 days.  Every time I drive past the station on my way to Pick ‘n Save I stare at the sign.  I meditate on what they have given my family.  I pray for their strength and courage.  I pray that they know just how special and important they are.

Most of all, I want them to know that they might not have saved Owen that night … but they saved THREE lives that day.  I want them to hear Josie’s name – I want them to see the face of a girl who they saved yet never met.  If they hadn’t worked as hard as they did – Owen’s heart might never have restarted.  He was without a heart beat for over an hour – they didn’t give up on him.  They are the reason (and with the help of God) that we had five magical days in the hospital.  It could have all been over that night.  We could have returned to our home without our son that very same day.  But we didn’t.  We had just begun our journey.  We were given time with Owen.  Time with our family.  Time to tell Owen’s story.  They were the first to keep Owen’s story living on.

I just really want them to know how much we appreciate them.  I want them to know what an amazing story they are apart of.  Doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, fire fighters, police officers — they all put their live on the line for strangers.  They fight for life and for good all of the time.  And so many times they save a life that they may never see again.  I haven’t stopped thinking about them since May 21, 2011 at about 8:15pm.  I want them to know what an impact they have made on my small life.

I’ve got the first batch of cupcakes in the oven and my iTunes playing.  Hoping that the music gives me the strength to get through today.  May the Holy Spirit help me to express what is on my heart today … may the Public Safety department of Sussex, WI feel loved and cherished.

Love, Mel


Filed under Grief, Owen's Funeral

A letter to Owen

I read the following letter to my Owen at his funeral yesterday.


My dearest Owen,

I have sent so many thoughts up to heaven about you.  I have screamed your story from the rooftops.  But have I told you? Or talked to you about this?  I think back to when your great grandpa tickley beard passed away.  His last words to your great grandma were “what can I tell you that I haven’t already said”. I didn’t understand them until now.

Even though I haven’t said them out loud or written them down, I think you already know what I’ve been thinking and feeling.  I thought I’d tell you anyway.

I pray this message is worthy.  Nothing seems good enough for you anymore.  The newspaper wanting to cut down your story to 500 words.  Having to consider cost when making your funeral arrangements.  How can I put a price on the sacrifice you have made?  How do I determine what your 6 months on earth was worth?

Owen?  I don’t recognize your brother’s cries anymore.  I could tell all three of you boys apart before.  Your cry was deep and slow.  Weston was throbbing and higher.  And your brother Logan always sounded like it was the end of the world.  The first time I heard your brothers cry after Saturday night … I didn’t know who’s baby was crying.

Can they feel that you are gone?  Do they realize what is going on?  Do they feel the loss of once being three and now being two?  You know what I think Owen?  They knew you were gone before I did.  They felt you leave this earth before I found you in your crib, before the hospital, before today.  Please stay close to them in the years to come.  Help them know you in a way I can’t.  Be with them.

If you can hear me, know that we have caused a shortage of Orange in the greater Milwaukee area.  People are wearing Owen Orange around the world for you today!  Can you feel how much people love you?

When you were with us, you were always so relaxed.  When you did fuss it was usually about something good.  Oh man could you work that pouty lip!  About three weeks ago you started making these raspberries that almost sounded like your own language.  Were you trying to tell me something?  Were you were trying to tell me that your time would soon be up?  Were you trying to say goodbye?  Or were you being a warrior and telling me everything would be ok?  Owen, I wish I would have heard you …. Please forgive me for not hearing you … For not protecting you like a good mother should.  If only I had heard.

I’ve been trying to live in the hope.  Living with the idea that the prayers of two other families have been answered.  I’m trying to believe in God’s will, His greater plan.  The truth?  What about the plans I had for you?  Raise you to be a mama’s boy.  I selfishly thought I had a great calling … A worthy job … God’s work … To raise four amazing men who would take care of four lucky girls.  I pictured us dancing on your wedding night.  Imagined how you would hug me when you were tall like your dad and towering over me. I looked forward to your endless sporting events or concerts.

It’s no longer.

Owen, you have taught me, your mother, so much.  I’m supposed to teach you.  And I know you already know this … But you will be remembered in everything I do.  Every step I take will be a little heavier, each breath a little tighter. But know what Owen?  You are my hero.  I hope one day to see your face again.  I hope to live a life that is worthy of you.

Love, Mom


Filed under Mommyhood Meditations, Owen's Funeral, Owen's Gone

We Painted the World Orange!

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.

Love, Mel


Filed under Owen's Funeral, Owen's Gone, Posted by Melissa

I need a favor … please?

Can I ask a favor?

Don’t treat me differently … share the good things in your life with me.  Come to me when you need someone to listen.  I’m not broken beyond repair.  I want to share in your happiness and sorrow too.

Random tid bit … I really liked this poem I found:

The mention of my child’s name
May bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring
Music to my ears.
If you are really my friend,
Let me hear the beautiful music of his name.
It soothes my broken heart
And sings to my soul.

Another favor, I know I’m greedy.  If you are able to, you are welcome to come to the funeral.  We went through this with open arms and we wouldn’t finish it any less.  Owen needs a full army for this battle.

All are welcome to attend.  Come when you can and leave when you must.  (In other words, don’t feel like you can’t stay for the service.)  Owen’s story and spirit will be shared.  I can’t help but want to scream it from the rooftops and have as many people experience his warrior spirit.

Third favor … now I’m REALLY greedy.  Wear orange.  The triplets all have their colors.  Logan is ‘lime green.’  Get it?  Both start with L.  Weston is ‘winter blue’ (because white is boring).  And Owen is orange.

We are going to both cry because he is gone but celebrate that he lives on.

Love, Mel


Filed under Owen's Funeral, Owen's Gone

Owen’s Funeral Arrangements

We met with the funeral home today.  Nothing was what I wanted.  The caskets were all wrong … but then again a child dying is all wrong.  They were all the frilly light blue and pink crap you see for baby showers.  They didn’t fit my Owen.  Thank heavens for Doug and our parents … they helped pick one.  White and simple.

The decisions are made … took three and a half hours.  Going back and forth about the obituary.  I found myself angry that I was having to cut down words to describe my Owen.  He’s worth more than 500 words … how can I possibly cut down what he was able to accomplish in 6 months?    I would do anything for my kids … price is no factor.

I was angry for having to think about cost and money.  I kept trying to remind myself that life goes on.  Owen deserved my life … The obituary in the newspaper cost more than his entire funeral.  honestly ….

My chest was so tight and it was so hard to breath.  I felt weak and frustrated.  I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE.  I kept screaming it over and over in my head.  Feeling angry.  I wanted to yell at someone.  Took all the strength that I had to stay calm with the staff.  I wanted to sleep.  Crawl into a small ball on the floor and sleep.  Maybe then I’d wake up from this nightmare.

We are going to honor our little warrior on Wednesday, June 1st at Ascension Lutheran Church, 1415 Dopp St, Waukesha, WI 53089.  Visitation will begin at noon and last until the service begins at 4pm.

We ask that in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Owen’s Relief Fund.  While flowers are beautiful they will perish.  Help Doug,  my family and I create a memorial for Owen that will live on for years and years to come.

Thank you for joining us on this journey and for all of your words of encouragement.  The journey isn’t done yet … there are still three other boys who will make a thumb print on this earth.

Let us send off Owen in true warrior style!

Love, Mel


Filed under Mommyhood Meditations, Owen's Funeral, Posted by Melissa