Standing beside the casket where Zachary's body lay, as mourners embraced me, commented on the beauty of my son's dead form and offered their most sincere sympathies, I was not really present. A shell of me was all that stood there. A bug eyed shell, still in utter shock and denial, wondering how the hell it was that my body was standing erect at the front of my church, marking the life and death of another of my sons...
This is what our family does when we have a baby. There is no baby shower, no welcome baby stork and balloons in our yard. There is no beginning of a whole lifetime of watching that specific little person grow and mature and delight and drive us bananas. There are only medical bills, a funeral and utter devastation for us.
...If C.T. wasn't there watching, if I hadn't worked so hard on my prepared eulogy, if they wouldn't have thought me insane, I might have calmly picked up Zachary's dead body and walked out. I might have refused to go through with the funeral service. I had imagined carrying Zachary into the church to be baptized there, to attend Sunday school there.
I remember the cruelty of having to stop at home to pump and dispose of the breast milk that had accumulated during our early morning preparations and the funeral. I remember the day coming to a end, as the funeral luncheon wrapped up. People were already making small talk, uncomfortable I suppose to linger too long on the topic of Zachary and our shattered lives. As my empty form received the last traces of sympathy hugs and offers of support, my gut knew with a familiarity that sickens me, that most everyone would essentially go back to their normal lives that very day. But that our new grief, the full-on impact of Zachary's life, suffering and death, was just beginning.
When I went to bed that Saturday night, no longer burdened and busied with preparations for the funeral, knowing a bit about what was ahead for us from the experience of B.W.'s death, I hoped I wouldn't wake up on Sunday.