Last night I was at a visitation in a funeral home. It seems like every 3-4 months I'm at a visitation in a funeral home. Too many people in my life have died. I'm only 32 years old and can count at least 15 people in my life who have died and funerals I've attended. That's too many.
Death is never easy, but there are some funerals easier to digest than others. The death of an elderly grandparent with many great grandchildren and a full and happy life is one I can accept. The death of one of my peers is one I cannot.
This death, however, is not only one I cannot accept... I completely do not understand. I stood there, at the front of the hall, with tears streaming down my face as I looked into the tiniest coffin I've ever seen at my friend's 9 month old daughter's lifeless body. She looked like a little doll... only sleeping in a pretty satin crib. She looked like she would wake up at any moment, crying for a bottle. In fact, she SHOULD. Babies should not die in their father's arms while doctors turn off their life support machines. Babies should not go into cardiac arrest. Babies should not need heart transplants. These are things I cannot accept.
My friends stood there, lost. Staring at the face of your child in a coffin is the most devastating thing I've ever seen. They just stood there, not understanding. Neither of them have been home since she got ill in the first place nearly a month ago. Their 5 yr old son knows his baby sister died, but he keeps asking when she'll be home... because a 5 year old can repeat the word "dead" without even coming close to understanding its meaning.
This morning is her funeral. I couldn't go. Not because I couldn't arrange for daycare for my own child, or because I couldn't afford the gas in my car to drive the 2 and a half hours to the church. No. I couldn't go, and watch my friends close the casket, knowing that would be the last time they see her beautiful face. I cannot go to the cemetery and see the 4 pallbearers carry the tiny coffin to the burial plot and watch as it descends into the ground out of sight forever. I went last night to hold and cry with my friends and their grieving families. I went to say goodbye to the baby. I came home and crawled into bed with my own daughter and sobbed uncontrollably, listening to her stuffed up nose snoring- thinking it was the most beautiful sound in the world. I saw her sleeping face and feared one day being in the shoes of my friends. No. I could not go to her funeral today... or ever.
I'm okay with not being strong enough for that. I know that my friends understand.