I just walked into the house after a 16 hour trip to California. We left this morning at 4 a.m. to drive to our old neighborhood in Long Beach. We had a funeral to attend. A bit of back story is in order I think.
About 6 months after Jon and I were married, we moved to Long Beach. We were one of two very newly married couples in our new church congregation there. The other couple was Jason and Julie Presley. We both got pregnant around the same time. 10 weeks into my pregnancy I miscarried. Julie carried her baby to about 32 weeks (if I remember correctly) and then delivered a little 3 lb. boy that they named Collin Matthew.
Collin had many problems from his first days of life. After years of testing and searching, he was diagnosed with TTD, a rare disease that fewer than 100 people in the world have. It causes many issues including skin sensitivity to light, pain, seizures, deafness, blindness, premature aging, and many more.
Last month Collin celebrated his 12 birthday. For a child who doctors said wasn't supposed to even see his first birthday, Collin was a living miracle. Last Thursday, Collin died unexpectedly in his sleep.
And so Jon and I, knowing how much it meant to us that people came to Camille's funeral, determined to make the drive down to Collin's funeral.
We arrived just shortly before the end of the viewing prior to the funeral. So I went in to give Julie and Jason a hug. It has been a long time since I have been to a child's funeral. And it has been a long time since I have been in the physical presence of another mother so fresh in the raw grief of losing her child.
As soon as I hugged Julie, her strongholds fell. I held her, told her I loved her and that I knew. And I told her that she could do this. As we hugged, to me it felt as if there were a matching part of our hearts. Julie and I have known each other all these 13 years but we have never been really close. But there is a connection between mothers who have lost children that runs deeper than one can imagine.
We know the deepest, most tender, most precious part of each others hearts. We are connected. And I felt that in a real way today.
Being at the funeral brought back so many memories for me. Collin's grandfather gave a wonderful eulogy that aptly portrayed Collin's true self as he lived on this earth. There were tears and laughter involved.
As he was giving the eulogy, I had an impression. It was an impression of Collins presence as he is now. We are often told that those with special challenges and handicaps here on earth are spirits that are exceptional in their lives before this world. Today, as I felt this impression of Collin I felt just how exceptional they are. There was incredible majesty in his presence. I think if we could see Collin today as he is in heaven we would be amazed at his glory and at just how very like the Savior he is.
It has been a long day. We went to the beach for a little while after the funeral and then headed home. Julie and Jason are no doubt overwhelmed by this new chapter of grief into which their lives have entered. I remember being there. I remember how hard it was to have mothering be so easy without my baby. She was most of my work. Julie is no doubt facing that now. She has been nurse, mother, advocate, and so much more for Collin and his little sister Regan all these years. Now there are no more doctor appointments or procedures or middle of the night wakings or pill schedules or diapers or feedings. So much easier can sometimes feel so much harder.
But Julie and Jason are strong and they will make their way through this chapter of grief. One way or another we all are forced to find our way through it. I hope they will be gentle with themselves and each other as they do. And one day I hope they will come to a more hopeful and happy chapter as I feel we have.
Until then, I pray that they who have carried and cared so faithfully for little Collin all these years will now be able to feel his now mighty arms carrying and caring for them.