I’ve been warned not to think of the memorial service as closure, per se, as closure will never actually come. Olivia will be in my heart forever; this is not a devastation from which I will ever fully recover.
Among other personal stories I’ve been referring to as the chorus of voices, I received a card from my Aunt Elaine the other day where she told me of the son she lost in childbirth named Jimmy. He would be 52 years old now and she has never stopped missing him. She had 13 children including Jimmy.
I knew going in that this would only feel like closure for a little while. There will be closure on another level, though, to this moment of immediate loss, the shock associated with losing her so unexpectedly and the grief of accepting her death without any warning. I do not expect that she will ever leave my heart, and that is why today seemed like such a success. I was almost giddy when it was over because I can now go about becoming a babylost mama. I have two beautiful daughters; one living and one dead. That is who I am now and I’m almost just as proud as if Olivia was sitting in my lap right now as I type this. I know I would’ve been a good mama to her because I am a good mama to her sister and I was a good mama while I carried her. I worried about her because I loved her. I worried about our house being too small because I wanted the best for her. I worried about not being able to pay the bills when she arrived because I did not want her to be without. I worried about working too much because I wanted to be the one to teach her about life.
I was a good mama to her before
and I will continue to be.
Because I loved that baby girl and I will continue to love her until the day I die.
I thought about taking a camera to the memorial but decided against it, not liking the idea of documenting this day in such a generic way. As if I could ever forget.
Before we left the house, I asked Lily if she wanted to give something of hers to Olivia to, you know, keep. She was immediately inspired and looked around for something to grab. She picked up her Wicked Witch of the West doll from the Wizard of Oz collection and chirped, “I want to give her this witch! I don’t like her.”
Um…what do you think about giving her something you’d like her to have…something you like, maybe?
She looked around her room again and found something on her toyshelf. “How about this?” she asked, picking up her toy cellphone. “She could press these buttons,” she suggested as she showed me how. I did think it was sweet of her to consider something a baby might enjoy doing for eternity, but this time I decided to suggest something of my own.
How about one of these pretty dolls?
I picked up the matching dolls her memaw bought while I was in the hospital waiting to deliver her baby sister. We knew Olivia had already died, but my mom thought it would be nice to give one to Lily and leave one with Olivia. Of course, I hated the idea at the time but now it seemed like the perfect thing to do.
Lily agreed so we brought them to the funeral home and Lily placed one of her dolls in front of the urn and it was just so beautifully simple. I wish I’d had my camera.
The room we were in was made up of four separate areas with no doors. There were comfortable chairs and sofas in each space that were all eventually pulled closer together to form a half circle around where Olivia was and the pastor spoke. It was like our entire families were all huddled around us, protecting us from the pain. We were surprised at the comfort we felt just being in their presence. Kids and all…
David and I had decided on two specific readings that I am so happy with. One was a meditation prayer I found on the Unitarian Universalist website about unexpected tremors of life. It was exactly what we would’ve said if we’d been able to think straight these past two weeks.
Although we didn’t realize it at the time we scheduled the service, David’s brother’s funeral was also on December 8, three years ago. The words we chose served both Nick and Olivia perfectly. Nick was shot by a friend at a party when he was 21 years old. It was the definition of a freak accident. He was the tallest guy I knew and the quietest, gentlest, aside from my sweet husband.
The other reading was the Tagore poem I posted yesterday. The pastor mistakenly gave David and I credit for writing both pieces which was embarrassing afterwards when everyone kept telling us what a beautiful job we did. I hated to disappoint them, as much as I’d like to have let them think we were really that talented. Like I said, neither of us have been able to think contemplatively enough since this happened. It’s all I can do to document the facts and how I feel. I certainly haven’t been able to string together anything much deeper than that.