Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Memorial

A few people told me it would be the worst day of my life.
It wasn't - not at all.

When I stop and think about what I've been through in the last 5 weeks, including the silent Doppler while looking for my daughter's heartbeat, packing a hospital bag without any baby items, going through labor and ultimately delivering my daughter who had already died, turning my back on my daughter, being wheeled out of the hospital room without her and leaving the hospital empty-armed, and in general, living every day since, I wasn't too worried about the memorial.

In many ways, I was looking forward to it.  Looking forward to the opportunity to talk about my daughter, to honor her.  To show off photos and talk about how beautiful she is and how much she is loved.  What could be so hard about that?

We walked into the funeral home, completely overwhelmed by the number of flowers there.  So many flowers.  (Thank you!) 

I dressed Benjamin in his big brother t-shirt.  I had debated this, but I figured he is Lydia's big brother and it seemed much more appropriate than a button down.  And besides, I figured, this was about his only chance to wear this shirt.  Unfortunately, I don't think he'll be wearing it much.

Next, we set up a table with everything we wanted to show off about our daughter.   We framed lots of photos and her handprints and footprints, displayed her little sister onesie and framed prints for her nursery, made bookmarks and CDs to to share and to remember Lydia by, asked people to write a note to Lydie.

And at the front of the room, surrounded by all the flowers, sat Lydia herself.

I was pretty composed while getting everything set up, but it got a little tougher once our friends and family started arriving.  When our friends arrived crying, it was impossible not to cry with them.   When some coworkers arrived, I couldn't help thinking about how the last time I saw them, everything was just fine.  That made me emotional right there.  

Everyone was talking in such hushed voices, and lining up to look all of Lydia's things, and I started complaining that it felt too much like a funeral.  I'm not sure what I thought our service was, but I definitely did not want it to feel like a funeral.  I think some of my friends overheard, and I was glad to see people start to mill about a little more naturally.  I was glad Ben was running around, making noise, being himself.  I didn't like it so quiet and formal.  I was not wearing black!

Somehow the service started with the wrong song.  We meant to begin with "On Eagle's Wings," and even though I may not be clear about my relationship with God these days, that is a song that gave me great comfort during my childhood - and plus, I like the message anyway.  "He will raise you up..."  But what was playing was NOT that song.  Everyone's sitting quietly and some damn song I've never heard is playing.

Still have no idea how that happened, but I marched back to the control room, got it straightened out, and as I walked back up the aisle, said "take 2!"  I am not sure why no one laughed.   I had to laugh - not only am I at a memorial for my own daughter, but it started with the wrong song??

After Justin thanked everyone for coming, we read to both our children My Love Will Find You.  

My sister talked about all the plans she had for her niece, Justin and I both read letters we wrote to our daughter, my mom read 1st Corintheans, my best friend read e.e. cummings' carry your heart, Justin shared lyrics from an Avett Brothers song, and then we did a candlelighting, passing around Lydie's light.  We ended with Somewhere over the Rainbow.

There were some lighter moments, like when Justin started speaking and Ben noticed his picture on tv, running over to it, yelling "Dada!"

And there were a lot of tears.

I've heard that "grief is the price we pay for love," and that certainly feels true these days.

It felt good to share Lydia and our love for her.  I hope we are able to continue to do that.


  1. It was a lovely service, and it felt good to have all those people gathered there to honor Lydie. It was good to see you talking to Kate and Tara, and to see Justin with his family. To have Lydie and your family be the focus.
    Your letters were beautiful.

  2. You both did such an amazing job planning the memorial. It was a beautiful day to honor Lydie. I know she appreciated the love in that room for her. And please forgive me for wearing black!

  3. It sounds like a beautiful and personal service.

  4. I regret not having a bigger service. I'm so glad you did this. Sounds beautiful and will help those in your community realize and remember months and years from now that she was her and she mattered.


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