(Side note: I never got an invitation (story of my LIFE), so I called the hospital last week and the rushed to send me one).
We decided we would all go (Mom, Adam and I, the kids, and my sister Michelle). It was very nice. It was held at the funeral home at a local cemetery. They had a large room set up with chairs. At the back of the room were several tables. We were immediately offered a program, and they gave each of the boys a brightly colored paper sack with a few little toys and a sucker, which I thought was both thoughtful AND smart. There were also strips of ribbon that you could write messages on, which would later bed tied to two wreaths they would take out to the memorial site. Each of us took a ribbon and wrote a little message to our baby boy. There were also tables with cookies and water at the back of the room.
We took seats and waited for the service to begin. While we waited, a woman was playing the violin, which was lovely. The service was only 20-30 minutes at the most. They recited a poem and there were some readings. I don't remember much. I alternated between bring brought to tears when a particular phrase would resonate with me, and turning my attention to the kids. I didn't regret having them with me for a second, as it helped to be reminded I still have them. Tyler shed a few tears too, poor thing. But the boys were very well behaved, in fact all the children present were.
On particular thing they said that hit me hard had something to do with the fact that our relationships with our lost children haven't ended, they have just changed. That made me cry in particular. I guess it's been awhile and I'd moved on, but this brought me back to the grief that will never really go away. And that's okay. I let myself feel it, but I don't feel that it's swallowed me back up.
At the end of the service, they invited the guests up to tie our ribbons on the wicker wreaths and they gave out carnations to put at the memorial site or take home. Then we all filed outside and walked across the cemetery. I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures inside, but I did snap a few at the site.
At the site itself, there was a large headstone with a statue on top of a little girl and a lamb. Behind the headstone is a stone bird bath. The funeral director took the top off of the bird bath and placed the wooden box that contained the ashes of all our little babies over the stand, which had a hole in the center. The box had a latch on the bottom so they were able to pour the ashes into the base of the bird bath through the bottom of the box. It's sort of hard to explain, but that's the best I can do.
The read a few more statements and a lady sang a song I didn't recognize and then they said we were free to go, or stay and talk, they even had grief counselors available. It was a very nice service and I think it's wonderful that the hospital offers something like that. They will provide the babies remains to the family if requested, for a private service (which we all know just isn't a viable financial option for most people) but it's so wonderful to have a second option, particularly one where the families can be involved. And I'm glad I now will have a place to go when I'm thinking about my little boy. I grew up going to the cemetery to my sister's grave, and I always was grateful we were close by, since I didn't know her and don't have memories of her in other places. It's the same with my son, if I want to be physically close to him, I can visit the memorial. I am glad for that.
Finally, I think it's time to share that we picked a name for our little boy. He is Gabriel Wyatt. My little Gabe. Mama love you.
Here are the pictures I took. I will try to go back sometime when there isn't so many people.
|"What the heart has once known it shall never forget."|
|"My Precious Innocence. You are part of me and will lie in my heart forever. i will always remember you. This memorial is dedicated to all children regardless of their age."|
|One of the wreaths with the ribbons bearing messages from the grieving families.|