The first terrible funeral I attended was my Granny's. The pastor pretty much said he didn't know if she was in Heaven or Hell. He didn't know her, she wasn't a church going lady, or a member of his congergation. He did the best he could, but I left her funeral hating that man. The question of her salvation wasn't even on my rader until his words. I did not need the added burden of wondering if my Granny was burning in Hell. Seventeen years later, I still don't know if my Granny was saved, but I am at a point where I am OK with not knowing. All I do know is that I shook that preacher's hand and thanked him for performing the service all the while vowing I would never sit through another funeral that included an alter call. Unfortunely, last year I did just that when another family member died. Shout out to all the clerymen (although I doubt any read my blog)-not the time or place.
When Noelle died, I chose her pastor from her Father's church to officiate, but me being me...I wrote the eulogy.
First and foremost, because I nneded to pay tribute to my daughter, but secondly because I didn't trust that he would send her home in the manner I wanted; a maner that would leave everyone feeling uplifted as they said their good-byes.
While I know there are no such things as happy funerals, I didn't want anyone leaving hers feeling desolate. Strike that-I didn't want me leaving hers feeling the way I did leaving my Granny's funeral.
Still reeling from the shock of her death, I planned my daughter's funeral. I went through hundreds of pictures of her trying to capture her essence. I asked her friend P to chose her outfit, because I knew I would dress her wrong.
The music though, I took liberties with the music. I thought I was chosing songs that would best honor her. Looking back now, those songs were about me. Me speaking out my sorrow, my guilt. Some were songs that always reminded me of her. Some were chosen by her father, one by her friend, and the others...the others were a montage of mine and Noelle's life.
There were many nights I went "Walking After Midnight" with Noelle. When she wouldn't sleep as a baby, I sang that song to her as I paced the floor with her in my arms sometimes thinking I was going to lose my mind because that baby would not STOP crying. Sometimes, the melody let her drift off to sleep...sometimes, we just walked and cried together. A young mother and new baby learning their way in the world.
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I have always tried to expose my kids to a variety of music, watching Noelle sing, "Me and Bobby McGee" at her fifth birthday party was more than music to my ears. It may sound trite, but at that moment, I thought I had figured out "parenting".
But "Fire and Rain"..."Fire and Rain" expressed my disbelief in her death. You never go to sleep at night thinking today was the last time I will see my child. But maybe you should. Maybe we should all treat every moment as if its our last.
My absolute biggest regret in life is that my last communication with Noelle was via text message. This regret hinders my healing process. I did not walk upstairs to tell her goodnight. I was recovering from a hysterectomy, it hurt to walk up stairs...so I sent her a text..."Good night, I love you". I never had a doubt in my mind that she would be there the next day. I ALWAYS thought I would see her again. But I didn't. My chosing that song for her funeral was an apology to her. Girlfriend, I didn't know...I always thought I'd see you one more time again.
When I drive into Claremore, I purposely drive by her accident site, not as a punishment in this case, but as a way to harden myself, to desensitize myself to THAT place. I don't want that site to control me. I haven't been able to do that with the music yet. Maybe because music moves me more than places. I don't know. I haven't quite figured it out.
I do know I need to quit punishing myself...that is why I started writing this today, with "Fire and Rain" on repeat. I need to stop. I just don't know how. I still love the song, each time I hear it my hope is that I feel a little less guilty, just like every time I drive down the road she took her last steps on I become a little more desensitized. I no longer feel her fear. I no longer see headlights rushing towards me to drag me into a field. I still feel sadness. I still feel her loss on that road. And the music still makes me cry.
Although she already knows, I will tell her all about it when I see her again...