The past week has been a blur. I’m writing this blog at 8:40am – about a week to the minute after Charlie died. The events of the past week have been unbelievable and heartbreaking, and Kristen and I have had a difficult time coping with what is now believed to be reality. Our little boy is gone.
The decisions we’ve had to make in the past seven days are decisions that no parent should ever be forced to make. We had to decide whether to bury our son or cremate him; we had to decide where to hold his memorial service (not a funeral) and who to invite, and we’ve had to decide how to honor him appropriately.
Thursday’s service had somewhere between 40 and 70 people. We’ll review the guestbook to get a better idea. We also had Charlie there in his urn, right next to the podium where Kristen and I spoke about him.
A good chunk of the people at the service came from John Muir’s NICU. One nurse told us that she’s never, ever seen a memorial service so well-attended by doctors and nurses. She said the boys have been so loved by the nurses, and Kristen and my involvement in their care on a daily basis helped develop a respect and friendship that make the doctors and nurses want to be there. This made us feel good.
We heard stories from the overnight nurse staff about how Charlie used to get some special attention in the wee hours. They also shared stories of how gassy he was – we know – and the various versions of his stink face – we know those too. We even saw some nurses we hadn’t previously met.
We also want to thank our family for coming in quickly from all over. Grandpa Bob, Grandma Selena and Uncle Brian came in from Twin Falls, ID. Grandpa Dave, Melinda and Aunt Sandi came in from South Florida. Grandma Mazza (a.k.a. Deebee) came in from Grecian, Costa Rica. Grandma Karen and Grandpa Rick came in from Visalia. Cousin Colleen came in from Visalia as well and Aunt Jamie came over from Burlingame. Even Kristen’s 96-year-old grandmother, Grandma Bordewyk, came in from Visalia. It’s been great having them all here for us.
And of course we had some close friends in attendance. I have to give special thanks to Erica and Brady Hobby for connecting us with Pastor Cathy Burkholder at Community Presbyterian Church in Danville. Kristen and I had one meeting with Cathy and her staff, and they took care of the rest. What an outstanding and selfless contribution they all made, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Following Thursday’s service, Kristen and I went over to John Muir in Walnut Creek and we spent some time with Samuel. Nurse Valerie and Nurse Emily had worked together to get Samuel into a special outfit we had picked out. It matched the one Jacob was wearing, and it was a variation of the outfit we had Charlie in for cremation. We took some pictures with our boys. We’re committed to taking more pictures with both boys together going forward, since we only had one photo of all three boys and us. We’ll cherish that photo forever.
I’m using Thursday’s service as a turning point of sorts. It’s easy for me to say I can move on from this event – the truth is I’ll never really be over this loss. Nor should I be. But I believe I can get back to functioning somewhat normal and be a great dad to Jacob and Samuel, and a great husband to Kristen. That’s all that really matters.