Remembering Doria

One Father's Journey after the Death of his Daughter

A Wonderful, Happy, Bittersweet Day

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What a Saturday!! All day long, little Zoe was as bouncy and happy as can be. Even at tired times, she was as content as she’s been. All day long, no matter who was around, Zoe was a happy, happy little girl. It was probably the longest, most sustained, unstoppably bubbly day that a very happy baby has yet had. We played a lot, laughed a lot, pooped a little, and had a super Saturday. It was a very sweet Saturday, sweet because time with Zoe was fantastic, and sweet because Zoe is so innocent and didn’t know the whole story of the day.

Saturday represented the third time in my life that I’ve attended a funeral for a baby. I never thought there would be one, because it’s something that none of us really think about, but Saturday made three.

The first was about ten years ago, for a family in our church whose little boy was born with a heart defect, fought to beat it, and right when it looked like the little fighter had won the victory, everything turned south. His parents are two of the more naturally happy people that I know, and seeing them cry at their son’s funeral caused me to think “If they look this heartbroken, I’m ready to believe that losing a child is as bad as it gets.” If someone had claimed it, I wouldn’t have hesitated to agree at all.

Of course, the second time was Doria’s funeral. Contrary to my expectations, that was the single easiest day of the entire process. That combination of shock, the presence of so many wonderful people showing their love for us, and the fact that I really still had no idea what I was in for made that a pretty happy day. That may sound very strange, but that funeral was very happy. It was the endpoint of a first grieving goal, it went wonderfully, and the caring was just so obvious. Easy day. 

Yesterday’s funeral was for a friend, an old classmate of my wife’s from Bible college whose son’s heart apparently stopped early in labor (if I have the facts right, which is iffy). Zoe’s giddiness was so helpful, because this was the first time I went to a baby funeral with a pretty decent idea what it was like to be the parents. It was a fantastic funeral for a church that will just now be finding out what they’re in for, and two wonderful parents of that beautiful little boy. The parents looked peaceful, just like I expected now. It was wonderful to see that church just filled with people caring for them. 

Of course, as someone who just has to analyze things, I found myself evaluating all of the different parts, sketching together what I think I would do for a funeral sermon, how to explain this thing or that thing, until realizing this morning in a casual chat with my pastor that it really doesn’t matter. Whatever truth is preached that day is truth that we don’t really here. As the parents, we’re not really all there. Along that lines, we (really it was me, just dragging the pastor down with me here) made up the only kind of sermons that would be remembered by grieving parents, and they’re pretty warped. 

As far as friends go, no one really hears anything, because they’re thinking about the grieving parents. In the end, however anyone involved presents things, or doesn’t, or seems to, or whatever, it really doesn’t matter a whole lot, because everyone is right there to do the one thing they can do that day: show those grieving parents that they love them. 

I found that really interesting. In the end, that’s all that we remember from our funeral. I remember singing the songs and all, and I have a vague idea of the sermon, but I really remember that the man who cried with us in the hospital was doing his part again, which is really what the funeral is all about for all of us. 

It was a beautiful Saturday, filled with the joy of a living child and mourning one that went home instead, and finding out that, in every case, love was really all that mattered. Again.

 

 

The day’s key verse: 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Of course, I was rejoicing with myself, but it counts.

 

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