On Monday, my boyfriend’s nephew, Everett, passed away in his sleep. He was born mentally and physically handicapped and fought against impossible odds to live as long as he did. They were told he wouldn’t live past two weeks.
He was 11.
I had the sad privilege of attending his funeral today, and it was an experience that was painful, but one that I was glad to be a part of. I was so grateful to be included in Beau’s family again and to be able to help send off this beautiful soul. So often, it’s difficult to find ways to help when people are in times of grief, and so often it’s simply the act of being there that provides that help. Being there was a sharp reminder of the things I find important in life.
On another note, I don’t think there’s any grief so sharp as that of a parent that has lost a child. My heart ached so much for Katie (Beau’s sister) and her family. I found myself wishing I could do so much more to help her besides just giving her a couple of hugs and saying “I’m sorry.” I can honestly say that I have so much admiration for her strength as a person, and even more for her strength as a mom. It was obvious to me, in the few interactions I had with her, how fiercely she loved Everett. I feel as though my words cannot do any justice to how admirable she is. Instead, all I can say is that I hope his soul rests peacefully, and I hope that she and those left behind can take comfort that they are sending him away as one of the most-loved children on earth.
One of the things I had hoped to do was contribute in some way-to bring flowers, or a toy, or some sort of item that was appropriate-but I’ve never been to a funeral for a child before, and having been estranged from the family for a little while I had no idea what was appropriate. I thought flowers would be best, but I ended up not having enough time to arrange anything before the service. This was weighing very heavily on my mind this morning as I drove to work, and even more so on my way to the funeral home.
It was as I drove to the service that I ran into a bit of synchronicity. The book that I am reading states how often times when we open ourselves up to the universe (or God, if you are religious), that the universe responds to us and we have only to listen and accept. When the universe clicks into place like that, the author calls it synchronicity. As I worried to myself that I had nothing to bring but a hand to hold, I noticed two young men in the car beside me shifting around like something important was happening in my car. I thought their behavior was really weird and just resolved myself to ignore it. But then the young man in the passenger seat rolled down the window and hung himself halfway out the car and held out a pretty purple flower to me. “I got this for you,” he said, and he was obviously trying to be charming. I said thank you, but otherwise ignored him as the light turned green and I continued on my way, switching lanes and pulling in front of them, mind and heart heavy.
Then, at the next light, they got over to the side again and stopped beside my car, leaving the space of three cars in front of them, and the young man reached out the window again. And that was when it clicked for me. This was the universe easing my mind, and trying to lighten my heart when I wanted it to. I gave in and rolled my window down and tried to reach for the purple flower, but we were too far apart. Just a hand’s width away. “Throw it,” I called. He did. As the soft petals touched my hand, the young man crowed with delight, “She caught it!!” And just like that, the light was green, and the traffic was moving and the boys moved on and turned away to whatever adventure they had next.
I placed the flower, imperfect but fortuitous, on the table in the viewing room. It was all at once nothing and everything. It was all I had to contribute. Whatever their reason for giving me that silly little flower, I don’t think those boys know how much it meant to me. How much I feel it in my soul that it meant something to Everett, wherever he rests.
It’s with this story that I close today, and the reminder to not take your loved ones for granted. Reach out to someone close to you today and remind them how much they mean to you.