Friday, January 20, 2012
It's 9pm PST on Thursday night, and I am holding the last vapors of gas together to write this post, and then, I shall CRASH. 4 hours of sleep this morning after a day like no other, then, boom, get this kids off to school and child care, get to work... you know, back to it. I apologize in advance if this meanders. I wish I had more energy to compose this post 'better,' because I want to do the day (yesterday) justice. Again, I'll do my best here, but please bear with me.
Unfortunately or fortunately, I've been to a lot of funerals in my time, and many - many - of them were when I was much younger, so the tenor of the day was not new to me, except in one MAJOR way.
We had Bella cremated, and in doing so, brought her with us in an urn to the memorials and back home to CA.
Yesterday, I saw the toughest image I've faced yet at any funeral... that small, tiny little coffin.
Ugh. No lie, that image will forever be burned in my mind and heart. So. Small.
Okay, let me do my best to take you through the setting and flow of events to 'get you there' as best I can.
The visitation and funeral mass were at this big, beautiful, airy, Catholic church in Courtney's town of Ponchatoula, LA. I knew visitation began at 10, so I made it a point to get up there right at 10, so I could spend as much of my day supporting Courtney and her family as I could. I also just wasn't sure how much bigger this whole thing was than what I can grasp from out here in California. Sure enough, the entire parking lot was already full at 10.
A beautiful, open air vestibule/narthex/foyer greeted visitors through the main doors, and within this space, framed collages and various photos of Tripp hung on easels and tables. Once inside the sanctuary, a slide show ran to the left, and down at the bottom of the main aisle, Courtney stood by herself, with her mom, Tripp's dad, and his mom standing to the right of the tiny casket.
I was immediately greeted by Courntey's aunt Linda, who couldn't have been sweeter. We met her when we passed through town after Bella died. I got in line, an paid my respects to Courtney, her mom, Randy, his mom, and Tripp. I saw Sam, Chloe and Marybeth Sheridan as well, Sam was one of the first 7 kids to go through BMT. They live in Tennessee now and drove down.
(sorry, it is now 6 am on Friday, I feel asleep at the computer last night typing this. I'm really sorry for the delay - I know you wanted to hear how the day was, but this is gonna get abbreviated a little)
I also got to meet the amazing Delgados, Vanessa and her husband Jason. They are simply a bundle of joy and love.
I also got to reconnect with Patrice Williams, which just felt extra special. That was wonderful. I love and admire and am inspired deeply by Patrice, so to spend time together, eat together, and worship together was a privilege in and of itself.
I finally got to meet and spend time with the amazing crusader Christie Zink as well. Christie is a woman on a mission to cure EB, and it was great to finally share hug.
In addition, I (like Patrice and Courtney) had so many people come up and introduce themselves and say, "You don't know me but I feel like I know you..." Our blogs have introduced so many to EB, and people took the time to say thanks for the difference that writing and sharing has made. That was really sweet. I just felt so proud to be Bella's daddy. We started this thing right after she was born to get out information on how she was doing efficiently, but it quickly shifted from just information to inspiration... and it was and still is a two-way street. Thanks for still being here. It inspires us to keep fighting for a cure.
From 10 am till about 12:30 or so, the visitation line stretched from the altar all the way out to the vestibule. I saw entire sports teams in their high school jackets there... they closed the Catholic school on the property for the day because the church knew how big a celebration of Tripp's life this was going to be.
When it came time for the funeral mass, I would guess that there were 700 people in the church easily.
There is so much more to share, and I have to get in the shower and get the kids up... the day is upon us. I will continue from here.