Sunday, September 11, 2011

Angel Watch; Infant Loss Memorial Service

     I went alone with The Scribe.  It might have been a poor choice, but that's what we did.
    As we drove toward the mountains, rain crashed over the car and lightning cracked beyond the hill.  I couldn't see the road well, just a vague outline that reminded me of the road to Heaven.  Many cars pulled off the road.  They waited for the storm to pass, their headlights still on, and their brake lights shining.
    I blinked back tears and told myself to keep driving.  Maybe someday I'd go to Heaven, be good enough to see my boy, but that road wouldn't take me there yet.  Things needed to be done.  The moment would be good for me--for us--it had to be, I just had to get there.  I glanced at my violin case in the back seat, and continued on. 
    Even more water ripped across the windshield after that.  I turned into Heritage Park and the car crept up a steep hill.  Mud cascaded under us and I engaged the emergency brake.  
    When we stopped, a wind rocked the van, and pulled at the last of my resolve.  Part of me wanted to turn away--to run--but the greater part knew the day was etched into my destiny.
    I squeezed The Scribe's nine-year-old hand. "Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked.  "Are you absolutely sure?"
    "Yes," she nodded.  I know worry simmered beneath her eyes, but she'd never say it.  She's far too tough, made of something stronger than most children ever dream of.  That kid has seen death and risen above it.
    My scribe wore a thin green coat over her beautiful taffeta dress.  The hood framed her face, but a few curls peeked by her cheeks and blue eyes which shone unflinchingly. 
    I kissed her on the forehead.  "I love you," I said.  "You're so courageous.  I'm glad you're healthy."
    "Let's do this," she whispered back.  "I'm not afraid . . . and I'm here for you, Mom."
    Tears threatened my eyes.  There I was worrying about her and all she thought about was me.  My breath stilled, and we stepped from the van.  I ran to The Scribe's side of the vehicle and held her close.  
    The wind practically combed through our clothes like the bristles of a brush.
    There we stood, our bones turning to ice, wind tearing at our bodies and rain pelting everything.  We held each other, right in front of the pioneers' cemetery.

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    We'd gone to a memorial where I was scheduled to play the violin.  It could have been beautiful, lovely, but a storm scavenged the sky and distorted the thirty-two graves near us.  
    I held The Scribe tighter and whispered right next to her ear, "Everyone will be here soon.  I won't get to play though.  This rain would destroy my violin."
    She nodded and leaned through the storm.  "What is this place anyway?  Why don't the headstones have names?"
   We walked into the cemetery and hovered by the fence protecting the graves.  As I squatted by her, the rain bent in the wind and hit our backs.  "Over two decades ago, a construction crew accidentally dug up these graves downtown.  Most of the coffins held babies.  They didn't know their names or anything, other than that they'd been pioneers.  They couldn't leave them where they'd been, so they brought the graves up here, on this hill."
    I got a chill.  The place held something magical, ancient like time.
    "Were those two twins?  Their graves are really close," she said.
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    "Maybe," I said.  "And I think those two over there were a mother and child."
    The storm continued, but a little softer.  When we walked further along, we noticed the men's choir I was supposed to play with.  There they stood, practicing in the rain.  The wind ate at them.  They each held an umbrella, wore nice suits and dress clothes.  They knew the storm was merciless, yet still their voices carried across the graves, comforting those who had passed--comforting me.
    Their fortitude, their resolve blessed my heart!  Even in the soaking rain, I thought of the pain and anguish they must have felt because each of those men had lost a child.  It's hard losing a baby, but even harder to confront things, look beyond your own pain and help others.  I gripped the cemetery's fence.  The strength of those men stunned me.  Their eyes glanced off the graves in front of them.  Their voices resonated against the moistened ground--against my heart.  They stood strong facing nature and defeat, but in that moment their immense love for their babies spoke far more than anything I've seen in a long time.
    They sang, "My Angel Princess."  
    Here's that link: Charity's Song

    "I don't think I can play," I said after they'd finished the song and I looked at the storm.
    The leader nodded with understanding.  He's a strong man, yet kind beyond anything.  "We're scheduled in one hour.  I just hope the storm will pass by then."
    The storm was unyielding though; I knew it. 
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    But I'd been wrong and as those fathers continued practicing, over three-hundred people showed up.  Each person had lost an infant close to them.  People drove from different cities--different states.  Each person knew the pain of loss, but the peace healing can bring.
    It was ten minutes until things would begin and a ray of light shot through the storm.
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    The rain stopped.  A wonderful woman befriended The Scribe and stood by her.  I grabbed my violin and waited with the men's choir.     
    The program began.  We all listened as two amazing women spoke.  A poem brought me closer to Heaven.  Their words of encouragement struck a chord in my soul.
   Then it was time for the closing song.  The wind had stopped at that point.  We'd all spoken into a microphone and said the name of our angel baby.
   That's when I pulled my violin out for the final time.  The song spoke more than words can say.  It drifted sweet and clear.  My eyes shut tightly and fate took hold of my bow as the winds rose up again.  I played for my son who died.  I played for each person who has lost a baby--for each soul who's experienced loss.  
    The fathers' voices rang clear as sheer power brought comfort to each heart there.  The violin danced on the vocal melodies and the song poured from our souls.  The wind picked up at the height of the song.  It encircled us like a chariot of fire headed to the gates of eternity.  That was the moment I knew our children heard us.  I felt their joy in the wind.
    I peered through the stormy air then, past the cemetery and to the other side of the fence where The Scribe stood.  She smiled up at me, healthy--perfect, reminding me how beautiful life can be.  Reminding me of everything God has let me keep.  
    When the music stopped, I peered up and realized that the sun shone brightly.  The winds turned calm.  Our hearts and hopes, our collective love had vanquished the storm.  
    People gazed around, nodding through their tears of understanding; they were each so special, so valliant, just like the babies they'd lost.
   I nodded back because together as a group, we knew we had each other and we would make it through.  


If you'd consider sharing your own story, about your baby or someone you've lost, please click here: Tribute Event

For more information on the history of that amazing cemetery, please click here:  The Pioneers of Heritage Park

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To find out about the amazing organization who made this moment possible, click here: Angel Watch Bereavement Program


To learn about my son and his story, please click here: 


A big thanks to Carolyn and Kay from Angel Watch.   It's amazing how the right words can change someone's life forever!  Thank you for making people stronger--better.  I'll never forget your kindness and the positive mark you left on my life.