The truth is that they’re all hard days, now. For the last week, every single day has been the hard day, and every single tomorrow has held another variety of the hard day. It was a week ago that Katie learned that Grace died — just 7 days, last Friday, a week ago today. How can that be possible? That day, that Friday, was the hardest day. Saturday Katie was induced. That was so hard. Sunday at 3:08am she delivered Grace and held her, and eventually left the hospital with only Trey’s hand in hers, another hardest day. Monday, hard decisions to be made. Tuesday, hard errands to be run. Wednesday, a hard conversation to be had. Thursday, hard and painful tasks to do. And here we are at the third in a series of hardest days, the funeral.
I haven’t been to a funeral in so long, and in fact, I’ve only been to five in my life: Big Daddy’s (my grandfather, who was in his 60s and died of cancer); my father’s (he committed suicide when I was 23); Ruth’s (my sweet former mother-in-law, who died of cancer); Kiki’s (my sweet former father-in-law, who died of Alzheimer’s); and Sue’s (my friend Peggy’s mother, who died of ALS). That’s it. I don’t remember very much about Big Daddy’s funeral; I don’t imagine it was a very big group who gathered in Graham. I remember my father’s funeral, a very small gathering at a lonely graveside in Taylor, TX, and I remember Ruth’s funeral, a huge Catholic mass followed by a great big joyful wake, and I remember Kiki’s funeral, a huge Catholic funeral in San Antonio, crowded with friends and family mourning that sweet man, and I remember Sue’s funeral, a smaller and quite moving service in a lovely church in CT.
Grace’s service will be very very small, just 10 people — a portion of the immediate family (all of Katie’s immediate family, plus Trey’s parents and one sister). Instead of using the large chapel-type room at the funeral home, we’re using a small room off to the side, the scale appropriate to the size of the little casket as if such a thing is even possible. Small flower arrangements, so as not to dwarf the tiny thing. The impossibly small heart-shaped urn that will hold Grace’s ashes once she is cremated, engraved with her name and the single date, of her delivery. A couple of photographs, one of her profile from the ultrasound, and one taken after her delivery, of her sweet little hand. And then us, crowded around. An officiant saying some words. And then we leave and return to Katie’s house. Sherlock and Peggy sent food, and we 10 will sit and put it in our mouths, grateful for the way it will allow us silence in each other’s presence. And then everyone else will leave, and then tomorrow Marnie and Will leave, and then one day soon I will leave.
Temma sent me these beautiful, beautiful words while I was composing this post:
Sun taunts the mourner.
Blue stuns the
A passage has occurred.
I do feel taunted, and stunned, and I’m still trying to comprehend this passage. I do not know how we will endure this morning, even as I know that we will, without a doubt endure it. We will be isolated in our grief and we’ll be clinging to each other desperately, trying to save ourselves and trying to save each other. The death of an infant — a stillborn infant — violates everything we think we knew about life and what’s right and what’s possible and what’s fair (even though we also know too much about life and that what’s right has nothing to do with it and that fair happens in a board game where you have a set of rules in your hand).
Goodbye, Grace Louise Lowery. I loved you so very very much.