Cremation for Charlie

Last Monday was a great day.  Charlie came home from the NICU and we had two of our three boys home.  Kristen and I were so happy.  Things were beginning to come together and we just had Samuel remaining to come home.

Just one week later – today – we spoke to the coroner, talked with people at a mortuary about cremation and finalized a memorial service at a local church.

Talk about a bad week.

We decided to cremate Charlie because we don’t want him being buried on his own someplace.  A decision to bury him would be a decision for Kristen and I to choose our final resting place and we haven’t done that.  Perhaps we need to do that, but we can’t be rushed into such a large decision.  We also think it would be good to have Charlie here under our roof, so we can watch him and he can watch us.  He’ll be a part of our lives forever and having him here ensures nobody will ever forget him.

Charlie’s remains were released to the funeral home this morning by the Contra Costa County Medical Examiner.  The funeral home is working closely with us to expedite things so we can have him at the memorial on Thursday.  We signed all the paperwork for the cremation, but there’s some other paperwork to be done by the county and state, and only after that is done will he be cremated.

I know I said we didn’t want to visit Charlie to see him again, but we changed our minds.  So we got to see our boy one more time today.  And my mother – his grandmother – finally got to meet her grandson.  We brought an outfit for him to be cremated in, and we added some photos so he’s not alone.

Seeing him was somewhat comforting for Kristen, but it reminded me that my son is gone.  It’s very clear though that it’s just a body and it’s no longer Charlie.

I spoke with the Deputy Inspector for the Contra Costa County Coroner today as well.  He didn’t have a clear cause of death.  I didn’t really expect him to have that today.  It may be up to 90 days before we get something.  I did give him some additional information and clarified some timelines for him.  The inspector said they, and the doctors involved, aren’t looking at this as a SIDS issue.  We agree and have good reason to believe Charlie had a hemorrhage or something else that caused him to stop breathing immediately and die.  Only time will tell though.

The other thing we did today was meet with some nice folks at a local church to talk about a service on Thursday.  They are helping out quite a bit, from the pastor to the deacons to others.  The service will be Thursday at noon at the Community Presbyterian Church in Danville, but we’re keeping it to family, a very small group of friends and the doctor and nurse staff at John Muir hospital – Charlie’s second family.  As a reminder to everyone, if you’d like to send something, we suggest you make a donation to John Muir’s NICU at this site:

Finally, I have to give a short shout-out to Build a Bear Workshop.   Kristen wanted to get a white “angel” bear that we could have at the service.  She had trouble finding one, so I called BABW in Pleasanton.  A woman named Alexis heard our story and told me it was going to be her mission today to find us that bear.  She called back a few hours later and said she found the bear, and was express shipping it from St. Louis.  All of this was at no charge, too.  I offered to pay but they wouldn’t take it.  I’m not sure I’ve ever shopped in a BABW store, but I will now.  Special thanks to Alexis!


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