Sunday night, the day before Ben’s funeral Pam and I were so twisted inside. I remember telling Pam that I had this feeling of excitement mixed with nausea thinking of getting to see Ben one more time.
The funeral director also goes to our church. His name is Larry. He was amazing to us. He called me just a couple days before the funeral and said it looked really good for us to have an open casket. Because he’s a baby, he was born a week ago now, and his skin was so fragile and thin he wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to have an open casket or not. He called us and gave us the good news we were going to be able to see him one more time.
One of my favorite TV shows (although very vulgar but extremely profound) is called 6 Feet Under. It follows a family who lives in a funeral home. Every episode someone dies and the family is put in the constant situation of facing the meaning of life. Watching the show years ago I was captivated and often wondered why people do what they do at funerals. Why an open casket? Why cremation? Why? There are so many odd choices when someone dies.
With Ben, those choices were obvious and instant for me: I didn’t want the hospital to cut him for an autopsy. They very thought of him being touched like that was too much. I didn’t want him cremated. I wanted to carry his little coffin. And when Larry called me and said we could have an open casket, I instantly knew this is what I wanted. Only a few people saw him: My mom, my dad, Pam’s Mom, Stacy, Pam and I. People who loved us and Ben were coming to the funeral. We had no idea how many since it wasn’t public, but I wanted my close friends and family to see his body: to see he was real. To touch him. That we didn’t loose something small: we lost someone larger than life.
That night Pam and I had such a mixture of feelings. We wanted nothing more than to get up as early as possible so we could just be in the same room with Ben and make our final goodbye last as long as possible. And we never wanted Monday to come at the same time: it was just one more confirmation that our nightmare was true. It wasn’t a fog, it was a reality.
That morning I woke up and wrote my letter to Ben. I thought Pam’s words were so amazing and so powerful, that I wanted to tell him something too. I guess that’s how it is. When you loose someone you love, I think you just look all around you to see what you can do to make it better. Pam and I could have written a hundred of these.