After Ben’s service we put everything in his little casket that we wanted to bury with him: letters from Pam and I, a laminated picture of us with a note from us, a copy of The Lion, The Which, and The Wardrobe, a stuffed animal Lion we named Aslan, and my sister put in a copy of her poem.
Pam said the picture of us represented us burying a piece of ourselves as well. I see our picture as his GPS to us when Jesus raises his body from the dead. That will be the happiest day in the world.
Our funeral director let me carry his casket out to the front car as everyone went outside to get into the procession to Ben’s grave side. The casket was so tiny and light. A couple years ago Pam had an Acura. She loved that car. Some idiot with nothing better to do stole it. It turned up in Reading PA completely gutted. Nothing we left, just a shell. They even took the plastic sides on the doors. Pam’s dream car is an Acura MDX. This is the car that Ben rode in to his final resting place. Ben’s only car ride was in style.
Pam, Tina, Mary, Pam’s Mom, and I drove right behind the Acura and everyone followed the 2 mile procession for my son.
One of the most amazing things happened as we drove to the graveside. Arlene, Pam’s Mom, has a best friend who runs a Laundromat that was on the way to the cemetary. Arlene told her friend that we would be driving by. As our procession approached the Laundromat, I saw a woman standing outside on the side of the street, saluting my son. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. No landscape could capture more beauty to me.
When we arrived at his graveside in “Baby Land” at the Mt. Rose cemetery everyone got out of their cars and went to the tent that was set up. I went to the Acura, opened the door, and picked up his tiny casket. I could have carried it with one hand it was so small. Only 17 inches.
I had the honor of carrying his tiny body all alone. I was so proud of him.
By the time I got to the tent, everyone was seated. I put his white micro casket on a platform made for a full grown adult. One more reminder to Pam and I that this just doesn’t happen: babies aren’t supposed to die.
Pastor Brian spoke quietly, briefly, and beautifully. I only remember one thing he said. “We believe that God has the power of heaven and earth to raise Benjamin from the dead: that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. But not this day. This day, we will wait in anticipation for Ben to be reunited with us on that final day.”
Not this day.
Not this day.
How much of life fits into that sentence? How much faith? Not this day…
When Brian was finished we were handed roses from Ben’s casket and everyone went back to their cars. Pam and I stayed behind. When Ben was in Pam there were two songs that I wanted to sing to him as he fell asleep. I memorized these small songs. I practiced them. I wanted to sing them to my son or daughter as they fell asleep so they didn’t feel alone. So they new I loved them. So they knew there was a God who loved them.
I got to do it. I wanted to put my son to bed, and I was. I wanted my son to wake up in 8 hours after I put him to sleep, but this wasn’t my story. He was going into a permanent sleep, waiting for Jesus to restore all things. I was so nervous to sing for him. I wanted to sing, but I didn’t want to stop. I just wanted to stay there until my body gave in, so I could be with him. These songs took on a whole new meaning.
Pam and I knelt before and I sang these two songs:
MLK by U2
Sleep, Sleep tonight
And may your dreams be realized
If the thunder cloud passes rain
So let it rain rain down on he
Alright for Now by Tom Petty
Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love
May God watch over you from above
Tomorrow I’m workin what would I do
I’d be lost & lonely if not for you
So close your eyes
Were alright for now
Ive spent my life travelin
Ive spent my life free
I could not repay all you’ve done for me
So sleep tight baby
Unfurrow your brow
And know I love you
Were alright for now
Were alright for now
Then Pam and I prayed. I’m not sure what I prayed. I know I prayed and thanked Jesus for Heaven. For him to take care of Benjamin for us. I prayed for Ben and told him that we would soon be joining him. Thank God this life is a blur compared to eternity. In my heart I prayed for courage. I don’t know if said it out loud.
After we prayed we stood up and had to say good-bye. We had to walk away. It was a horrible feeling. To this day, I wish I had stayed behind by myself and put Ben in the ground myself. I didn’t want to leave.
As we walked away and reached the car we rode in I saw the second photograph that my mind will never forget: a massive line of cars that all waited for Pam and I. A mass of cars who came to honor my son. A mass of cars who were hurting for us. I know that Jesus had a car in that line too.
We got in the car and slowly drove away. As we drove away I realized I stayed up all night for the past two nights making a mix CD for everyone. I wanted everyone to have one to remember Ben, but there was only one CD I really cared about: the one that would bury with my son. As we drove away, I felt the CD with my hand in the seat. I forgot. I wanted to turn back, stop the men from putting my son in the ground without songs of hope, Jesus, and heaven. But it was just too painful to turn back after we walked away.
And the truth is, I could have turned around and never left. Buried myself with him. Nothing would have made it complete. I realized then and there that there will always be one more thing.