Sunday, March 3, 2013

Aaron's Funeral Mass

I did actually write most of this post the day after Aaron's funeral but just hadn't posted it yet.  Honestly, tonight has been one of the hardest I've had since we received the diagnosis in October so rather than try to make sense of the mess in my head right now, I decided it would be a good night to finish up this post and reflect on the peace I felt when I first wrote it. 

As I have mentioned before, Aaron's Mass was absolutely beautiful and Father John did a wonderful job of speaking directly to our hearts.  It did truly help us find a peace in laying our son to rest.  We were blessed to have so many family members and friends who were able to join us and we were touched by each person who came to help us celebrate our little guy.

I don't think it will ever be possible to forget that day, but I wanted to write it all down tonight while it was still so fresh in my mind so that I will always be able to come back and read over this.  I also wanted to share with anyone who wasn't able to be with us for his service.

Since we had chosen not to do a visitation, we were fortunate enough to have the church opened an hour and a half before Mass so that Chris and I could have some time to spend in prayer quietly with our son before we welcomed family and friends to gather with us.  Although it isn't something that is normally done, especially not in a lot of Catholic churches, it meant so very much to have that time before Mass to spend a few minutes with each person who came to celebrate Aaron's life and show their support for our family.  Father John has said several times since we first met with him that there isn't really isn't a good manual for this sort of thing and it was evident that he was truly letting God guide him in finding what would be best for us and our family.

Thankfully, we had chosen many of the readings and music selections before Aaron was born so we had plenty of time to reflect on exactly what we wanted.  As I heard the songs sung by those who love us and the words we had chosen read aloud, we knew we had chosen correctly.  Although we are heartbroken that Aaron didn't get to stay here with us, we wanted his funeral Mass to make it clear that we know he is safe where he is and we believe that one day we will see him again. 

 Funeral Liturgy Selections
 * Gathering Hymn - "We Walk By Faith"  "We Walk By Faith" YouTube
 * First Reading - Wisdom 4:7-15
 * Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 23
 * Second Reading - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
 * Gospel Reading - John 14:1-6
 * Communion Hymn - "Be Not Afraid"  "Be Not Afraid" YouTube
 * Song of Farewell - "On Eagle's Wings"  "On Eagle's Wings" YouTube

We went out to the cemetery immediately after Mass.  Chris, the girls and I all got to ride with Aaron in the limo, which was nice except that I panicked about halfway to the cemetery and thought that I had forgotten how to get there (and realized later that I definitely did not pick the shortest route).  Thankfully my dad came to the rescue and helped lead us the rest of the way (as it turns out, I knew where we were going...just had a momentary freak out).

Father John said a few final words graveside, then the girls wanted to send some balloons up to Aaron in Heaven.  Tori had chosen a blue balloon for him and Abby insisted that he wanted pink. (Abby let hers go later than the rest because she was standing on the string, but somehow it caught up to the others almost right away.)  Chris and I had white balloons for him (thank you to my younger sister for picking them up for us).  We stood with the girls until the balloons were out of sight and listened as Tori told us about what she thought Aaron would do with his balloons - she was pretty sure he was going to pop them, just for fun.

Friends and family headed back into town to meet us for the luncheon that some very kind women from church had prepared for us.  Chris and I had decided ahead of time that we wanted to stay behind until they placed Aaron's casket in the ground.  The two men were so gentle as they laid down to lower him and then stepped aside so we had a few minutes to talk with our son one more time.  Although it was muddy, Chris and I each got to place a handful of earth with him (although the mud wasn't nearly as poetic as dry dirt...the messy clunkiness seemed more appropriate for the way we felt anyway). 

Honestly, I wasn't sure how I would feel about staying to watch my son be placed in the ground.  As it turned out, my husband once again knew what he was talking about when he suggested it.  It produced a feeling of closure and finality to it all that I'm not sure I would've felt otherwise.  I know it may not be the right choice for everyone, but for us, it was certainly the right thing to do. 

As I said in my first post about Aaron's funeral mass, it was a chilly rainy day but it was a beautiful service.  We are so very grateful for the friends and family who were able to join us and sincerely appreciate the prayers of those who weren't able to be there. 

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