Friday, December 7, 2007
I'm at home, sitting in my pajamas after having finished the last of the official elements of Poppy's funeral just hours ago, trying to keep my eyes open as I type. I know I need a nap, but there is so much I want to share and my mind will be busy until I get it all out. Wednesday, Thursday and today have each held a special and unique part of celebrating our little girl and the amazing way God has worked through her short but powerful life. As expected, each day has unwrapped a multitude of emotions, yet what has surprised me is the fact that while physically tired, the events of the passed three days have actually served to lift me up spiritually and emotionally. Adrenaline undoubtedly has something to do with it, but I am convinced that the source of this spiritual and emotional renewing runs much deeper. God has breathed His peace and strength into us in way unlike anything we have experienced thus far on this journey. Nathan said it last night at her memorial service, and I will echo it now: God has been sufficient.
The three-pronged remembrance and celebration began with a visitation on Wednesday night. I honestly had no idea what to expect; I really didn't know how I would handle walking into the funeral home and speaking with the people who came to share their condolences. What I did know was that it very important to me that everyone who came be given a chance to experience Poppy and her life in the most tangible way possible. Family and friends helped me prepare a beautiful memory board, frame my favorite pictures, and arrange her blanket, hat, dress, and bracelet so that everyone who walked through the room could see the physical tokens of Poppy's brief life. I looked forward to being able to show off all of these things, but I knew that along with all of these happy mementos, there would also be another reminder that I was much less ready to see. I just kept asking myself, how do you prepare to see the casket that holds your baby? The answer for me was simply that you don't. Nathan and I didn't spend time trying to psyche ourselves up, or on the opposite extreme, prepare to be emotionally overwrought. We just held hands and walked into the room. What met us was not what I had anticipated. While the tears rolled down my face, I was simply blown away by the beauty that surrounded her tiny casket. The flowers were all were designed to replicate a garden in bloom. Tiny rosebuds, lilies, gerber daisies, and a host of other "happy" flowers graced the most beautiful greenery I have ever seen. Most of the baskets and arrangements contained lovely statues of angels and crosses, keepsakes that I'll be able to look at long after the flowers have faded. But most spectacular were the poppies that the florist had miraculously found on the international market in China. They shone above all the others in their delicacy and beauty, and the small miracle of being able to have poppies in Memphis, TN in December was a reminder of the beautiful miracle they were honoring.
From that moment on, the evening was a time of comfort. Nathan and I cannot express enough our gratitude to all the many people who came out just to let us know that they had been praying for us and that they were sorry for our loss. Many people expressed that they didn't have words, but the look in their eyes and the fact that they had driven all the way out to tell us that, said more than enough. We walked out lighter in spirit than we walked in. We couldn't have asked for more than that.
Then last night we were able to join with several hundred other people at our church for what I can only describe as the most beautiful memorial I could have ever envisioned for our little Poppy. We have had months to plan what we wanted, and when it was all said and done, it was more. Our heart's desire was to express our thanks to God for what He chose to do through this baby, and with the help of our friends and family, we were able to do this through songs, worship, scripture, video, and our testimony. To illustrate the fact that we saw the journey we have been on as something we have travelled collectively with so many precious family, friends, acquaintances, and even people we have never met, we asked twelve family members and friends to read the passages that have meant the most to us over the past four months. After that, we sang four songs that held particular significance to us, culminating with "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Nathan and I also were able to share from our hearts what an overwhelming honor and privilege it was for us to be chosen to be the parents of this special child. I want to stop and say how crazy, lovingly, and overwhelmingly proud I am of my husband. His words last night are something I wish each and every one of you could hear because what he sad was the sweetest, most priceless tribute he could have paid to Poppy and even more importantly, to Jesus. Without doubt, he was the highlight of the service to me. We also were blessed to have Nathan's brother put together a video and picture collage to music, which of course was more powerful than words in its ability to portray her amazing life. The service culminated with Nathan's other brother playing a viola solo to "It is Well with My Soul." In summary, it was simply perfect.
Finally, this morning our family gathered at the graveside and spent some of the most precious time yet as we shared what this journey has meant to each of us. We sang "O, Victory in Jesus," my Papa's favorite song, and it was so fitting. Nathan and I and each of our family members laid a poppy on her casket, and we said goodbye. Again, as we drove away, Nathan and I looked at each other and knew before we said it what each was thinking: It was perfect. Nothing could have been taken away and nothing added to make it any more perfect than it was.
Now, as I sit and reflect, all I can say is that everything that needed to be said, has been said. Everything I would have wanted for these three days was granted. The beauty in the combination of tears, joy, thankfulness and hope is unsurpassed by anything I have yet experienced. All I can say is thank you. Thank you to each person who has followed our journey on this blog. Thank you to each and every one of you who came out to the visitation or the memorial service to show your love and support for us. Thank you to the amazing servant-friends who have brought food, taken care of the babies, helped us prepare for the service, and so much more. Thank you to each person who participated in her memorial service last night, helping to make it the unforgettable night that it was. Thank you to our family members who have gone over and beyond in every way to be there for us and help lighten our load. Thank you most of all to Jesus for giving us the gift of these three perfect days of remembering His faithfulness that shone so brightly through our beautiful little girl, Poppy Joy.