the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The day before the funeral service

We woke up on Friday morning, January 28th. I was just at the beginning of recovering physically and yet a service for Jonan was just a day away now. The night had given us much needed sleep except for one moment when I woke to use the bathroom. The way Jeff was lying in bed looked like the way Jonan had laid in my arms two days prior.  Thinking I saw Jonan lying there startled me.  Of all characteristics that showed us Jonan was our son it was certainly his legs and body. Jonan was long, but with shorter legs and a longer torso…he was built exactly like his daddy. This was so endearing to me.  That thought of Jonan, however, brought with it a flood of emotions that I poured out once again into my husband’s arms.  Like always, however, morning did come and it was time to plan for the service.

Kevin Miller picked us up around 10am to head over to the funeral home right here in Wheaton. We were greeted promptly by a kind man in a suit who then showed us to the basement office for our meeting.  We sat down and began going over things which are quite blurry to me now, the first thing I do remember is this gentleman saying “Jonan is here.”  Whoa. I mean, I knew they had picked up his body from the hospital, but he was in that very building. Oh, Jonan, mommy is here. I wish I could hold you. I miss you, baby.  I was jolted out of that moment by his offer to show us his casket. Oh, right…he’s not really here with us (sigh). They bring out this little box with beautiful white, silky fabric all over it…oh my goodness, it was so small (12” long). Caskets shouldn’t come in this size.

On top of the casket was a small pin, an angel pin. I am not into angel paraphernalia, really. You know, pictures and sculptures and such. But this was my son’s casket and I was into anything having to do with him. Without thinking I said “do you mind if I take a look?” while pulling the casket close to me.  As I looked a little closer I saw the pin was broken…then angel’s left wing was broken off.  I blurted out “Um, its broken, it’s left wing is broken off. Like Jonan, he didn’t have a left arm. Can I have it?” I was already unpinning it from the casket. “Jonan needs a whole pin because he is whole now, but I want this one.”  I think the funeral home gentleman was a little embarrassed about the broken pin and its resemblance to my son as he rushed off to get a replacement. But I assured him it was okay, this was my Jonan pin.

(Caveat:  I don’t believe Jonan is an angel, theologically, I believe humans are an entirely different order of being than angels. We do not become angels when we die, but I do think we may join them. And I do believe, from Scripture, that they interact with our world in ways unseen by our eyes. )

After leaving the funeral home with a new pin and a bill to pay that was less than half the size it should have been because of generous folks at our church, we headed home for all our final preparations. I had sent out an email to some girlfriends the night before asking if they could come help me put together a special thing for Jonan’s service. Five gals changed their day to be with me that afternoon and help me prepare. I poured over emails sent by so many loving friends and family and printed them off. Like a factory of efficiency, my friends took them off the printer to cut them and paste them onto creative, colorful pieces of paper. My idea was to string these along the walls at our luncheon following the service. I so wanted everyone to read the works of God through my son’s life, and also the works of God through many others to us. Funerals generally have pictures posted around, or slideshows of memories. But since we could have neither, we did this…

This was such a tremendous blessing to me, and will be as I take these pieces of memories and place them in Jonan’s memory book. We are so blessed. 

Around this time some of Jeff’s family also came by to spend the afternoon with us. It was wonderful to have so many around us this day, another day of our life that just didn’t seem like it should be our life. Thankfully, however, it was full of love and an offering of time and creativity. While these women worked Jeff and his father went to pick up the 8x10 picture Jeff had so beautifully edited of Jonan’s precious, little feet. It was all coming together so perfectly.

The day was winding down and with it came another night sky, a darkness which I was not anticipating, for it only meant we actually had to live out the next day when we awoke. We did our run to Target as we had done the night before I gave birth to Jonan. Every place had meaning now. Even Target was sentimental and difficult place (and still is). We picked up our last minute needs, including a perfect 8x10 frame.  Oh, Lord. This is still happening. We still have to do tomorrow.

Standing in line to pay at Target I received an email on my phone. Sometimes it is a good thing to have this access anywhere… sometimes it is not. I am not sure which category of access this email fit into. It simply said the following and nothing else:
“weeping with you
you are a good mother,
all that you did mattered”

(breathe, Kimberly, you are still at Target)

This was the most profound email I have ever received.  I have read it over and over and over again. I may put a tiny frame around it someday and put it on my dresser. If there is more a hidden work than motherhood, I don’t know what it is. And truth-be-told, I do not know much of the day in and day out life of motherhood yet in my life. But the hiddenness of what has happened to me is difficult to express as well. I know I am not alone in its experience. But to be told that has mattered makes me cry right now as I type.  That is what we all want to hear, isn’t it? That it mattered…that the things we spend our life on matter? And in what has been, arguably, the most hidden work I will do in my life, a work the world could easily “evacuate” out of existence, it has been honored by someone I truly respect.  The only other words more deeply humbling than these would be to hear from my Lord someday, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

We drove home as I wept; slinging my body over the console so I could hold onto Jeff’s arm as he drove.  We past the cemetery where we would lay Jonan down the next morning.  We prayed for all the help God could possibly give us.  Then went to bed to a sleepless night’s rest. 

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