Friday, August 30, 2013

Kale's Graveside Service--July 19th, 2013

This has been a post I've been meaning to write, but has been too difficult to face.  I think this day has topped the list at Worst Day Of My Life.

But I've been wanting to write this down, because we had a small private service for Kale and some of our family weren't able to attend, and we didn't invite our friends.  Because how could we keep it small and private and still invite everyone who has been so supportive of us?  We couldn't, so we kept it to our immediate family only--siblings and grandparents.

We started off by meeting my mom at the funeral home.  We chose the mortuary we did because my friend's husband works there--it's his family's business.  Her husband was actually the one who came to the hospital and picked Kale up.  It gave me a small measure of comfort, knowing that they would treat Kale's body respectfully.

Each of the kids got Kale a little gift.  Granted, that occurred back when we thought we were having a girl, but it's ok.  Boys can have pink toys too.  I also made 3 matching little rag quilts with hearts on them, for each of the kids.

Yes, my kids are matching.  This shade of blue is Kale's color. His quilt I made him had this blue in it, and the blanket my mom made him to be buried in is this color of blue.  A few people at the graveside were also wearing this shade of blue.  I will always think of Kale whenever I see this shade of blue now.

My amazing mother made this little burial gown for him.  We were expecting a girl, and I had made a perfect little burial dress, but it was so difficult for me (I've never sewn clothes besides pj pants before) that I ran out of time to make a boy outfit just in case.  But my mother anticipated that we might need a boy outfit and made this one.  And then embroidered his name on the front.  It was perfect for him.

Matt purchased the necklace for him.  The SOH stands for Son Of Helamen, referring to the story in The Book Of Mormon about Helamen leading the 2,000 young men into battle and how they were not afraid of death because their mothers had taught them well.  Helamen cared for those youth like his own sons.  Matt has worn that same necklace for many years.  As long as I've known him he's worn it.  My 3 boys all have matching necklaces.

My mom took some family pictures for us.  Which to be fair, aren't amazing because the kids were sick of sitting around, and Matt and I had been crying for a while.  But all of us are in the picture, which is VERY important to me.

We spent a long while at the funeral home with Kale.  My mom took the kids, after they gave him the toys they brought.  Matt and I just sat holding him, and remembering every bit of him.

My friend, who's husband works at the mortuary, had given me a gift of a remembrance necklace.  A lady comes and takes a fingerprint and makes a necklace out of it.  It was one of the nicest gestures.  I had wanted something like that to remember Kale by, and to wear so I would always have him with me.  And now I will have his toe print.  After the lady came and took his print, we dressed him and wrapped him up.  It was one of those situations where I knew i didn't want to put him down.  I didn't want to have to say goodbye.  I knew that this would be the last time I held him in my arms.

It's funny how you never quite realize the meaning of something until you feel it.  I never knew that my arms would literally long to hold him.  How I could be sitting somewhere and feel like something was missing from my arms.  It was a startling feelings the first time it occurred.  Now it's just a painful reminder.  But it's a real feeling.

The funeral director (which was supposed to be my friend's husband, but she went and had a baby instead so he was with her) was so kind.  He didn't rush us at all, and just gently reminded us of the time at 11am, when we were supposed to be at the cemetery.  But he told us that it didn't matter, we could stay there as long as we wanted.  It was on our time frame.  I didn't want to leave, I didn't want to have to put Kale in the tiny casket.  It was so hard to have to pick a casket the day before.  It was perfect for him, but it just felt so unfair.

A lot about this has felt unfair.  I try not to think like that, but it's hard not to.  It's hard to keep the faith that God knows what is best when something so painful is happening to me directly.  It's very hard.  Another club we joined that you never want to be apart of (the first was the premature baby/nicu club with Martin).

We held Kale as long as could, taking many pictures of him, and then placed him in his casket.  He was all wrapped up like I wanted him to be, in the Teeny Tears diaper I made him, the gown my mother made him, the necklace from his dad, the blanket from my mom, the blanket from me that matches the kids little blankets laid on top of that, and the toys from the kids tucked next to him.  It was perfect.  He was perfect looking.

One of the hardest things that day was saying good bye to him and closing the lid on his casket.  I didn't want to do that.  I wish I didn't have to do that, it made it all too real.  It was like before that, I could pretend that he was just sleeping in my arms, that he was there with me.  But now he's not.  It just hurt more that I could bear.

The day before, Matt and I spent some time picking pictures and creating a program of sorts for the service.  We decided that since many people didn't get to meet Kale that we wanted to have pictures on display as well as the quilt I made for him, and held him in.  It turned out perfect, and I love that I now have pictures of him in our house for our kids to be reminded that they have a little brother, and I can see him too.

The sunflowers are rather important too.  You see, while we were driving to the hospital, I kept seeing them along the side of the freeway.  They kind of became a focal point to me, and now they also remind me of Kale.

We kept the program simple.  Matt conducted and held himself together MUCH better than I did.  I hardly stopped crying the entire day.  My eyes literally hurt from crying so much.

I even managed to read a poem.  I didn't think I'd be able to, I thought I would be passing it off to my sister to read for me.  But I managed it.  This is the poem I read:

Don't think of him as gone away
his journey's just begun,
life holds so many facets
this earth is only one.

Just think of his as resting
from the sorrows and the tears
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.

Think of he must be wishing
that we could know today
now nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.

And think of him as living
in the hearts of those he touched...
for nothing loved is ever lost
and he was loved so much.

-Ellen Brenneman

 We played the song "Tribute" by Jon Schmidt.  I love this song, it was one of the first Jon Schmidt songs I learned to play on the piano.  I love it for many reasons.  He wrote this song for his older sister, who had taught him to play the piano, when she died.  The song starts out rather mellow, and then there's a pause about half way through.  And then it picks up.  It's so easy for me to visualize that as the point when we're reunited in heaven.  We we're finally free of the pain and sorrows of this world and are just overwhelmed with the happiness that comes from being with those we've missed.

After that song, Matt told a little bit about Kale's short life, and the blessings that came along with him, how things fell into place like we wanted them to.

Our bishop spoke a bit, but to honest I don't remember what he said.  At that point I was just in my own grief and try as I might I couldn't focus anymore.

We had a balloon release with the kids, while we played an instrumental version of "Families Can Be Together Forever".  This was important to us, because it included Katryn and Martin.  We told them that we could sending balloons up to Heaven for Kale.  This was something they could grasp a bit better, and be able to be a part of everything.

After the balloon release, Matt's grandfather dedicated the grave.  Like with the Bishop, I couldn't remember what he said, but I remember it was perfect.  I'm so glad they were able to drive down from Idaho and be here for the funeral.

Here's the table we had set up.  We even had a guest book somewhere for everyone to sign, and in which I am in the process of adding things to.  It's actually more of a memory book.  There's a lot in that book!

We buried Kale in our hometown, where we are moving back to soon.  I wanted him there so we could visit his grave easily.  He's a part of our family and I want to make sure our kids always remember that they have a little brother.

Hands down, the hardest part of this day was driving away.  We stayed for a while after everyone left, just sat there in front of his casket together.  But eventually we did have to leave.  And I hated it.  Driving away from our baby, leaving him there by himself was horrible.  I know it was just his body lying there, but that doesn't make it any easier.  Looking back as we drove away, and seeing his little casket lying there alone is more than a mother should have to bear.

Overall, everything came together so nicely, the program we designed was nice, and for a funeral it was wonderful.  I just wish we didn't have to do it.


  1. You are in my thoughts and as I read this I thought you might like this quote that I read the other day. Prayers to you and you family when you need it most! Wish I could help in some way, but just know I am always here for you! Loves to you guys. Oh I loved the balloons. Every time my kids see a balloon going up in the sky they say Grandpa is getting another balloon! :) Stay Strong!

    "Tears are all right. They are the price we pay for love, care, and compassion in the world. One day God will, in great victory, 'wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain: for the former things are passed away.' One day our calamities will be overpast." --Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, For Times of Trouble

  2. Oh, your sweet family...

    Thank you for sharing this. It was touching.

    All my love to you!

  3. Driving away is the hardest. Thank you for sharing. I have never written about each of the days that we have buried our children, I have missed out on that part of their life.. Remember there are hard days and easy days, remember that just because we are happy on those days does not mean we do not love and miss our little ones, its our way of enjoying the journey. ((Hugs))

  4. I cried more when we left Adam's casket alone in the cemetery than during the entire funeral. It really, truly does feel like you're walking away from your loved one. Of course, a brother isn't anything like a child, but the root of the feeling I understand. I can't wait to give you the biggest hug ever when I see you. Thanks for sharing this, for touching me today, for having human feelings about this. I wish I could say something to make it better. Just know that I'm thinking of you guys!

  5. Thank you so much for posting about Kale's graveside service. I still wish that there was a way I could have made it out there to be with you all during this hard time. Know that I was thinking about and praying for you and your family during this time. It seems like it was a perfect service, and simple. I hope that you can continue to feel peace in your heart, even though it may feel lonely and sad at times. You are so strong, and your family will be there for you if you ever need them for anything. Although we may not understand or relate with the feelings you are experiencing, we love you and your family, and love can be an amazing equalizer. Thank you again for sharing another part of your life that is so tender and personal.

  6. What a beautiful memorial for a beautiful baby boy. I'm sure he feels how much his earthly family loves him.

  7. You and Matt are the strongest people I know. What great examples you are to your 3 amazing children.

    I'm glad this life is just the beginning of the eternity we get together as families.