Peter's funeral was on the Monday after his birth, August 20, 2012. I didn't sleep well that night and was up very early. I felt sick. I didn't want to go. We went to the funeral home an hour ahead of time to see him and say goodbye. He looked so perfect and tiny. The home did a beautiful job wrapping him and laying him in his tiny coffin. He was so cold, and instinct told me to tell Julie not to touch him. I didn't want her to remember Peter that way. But I quickly changed my mind. That was wrong; she needed to say goodbye in whatever way felt right for her. She decided not to hold him but she rubbed his cheek and kissed him. I hadn't planned on picking him up but I couldn't resist. I needed to hug him one last time. I hugged him and cried and rocked his tiny body. Natalie showed some interest in him for the first time. She stuck her finger right in his mouth, which was just the right size for her tiny little finger. We spent 30 minutes with him, placed some holy cards in his coffin, a holy medal, a photograph, and a sunflower clipped from my garden. Then we proceeded to the church.
Steve carried in the tiny coffin and placed it at the front of the church. Eric Blair was cantor, and he did a beautiful job singing the wonderful hymns we'd chosen. Fr. Steve's homily was beautiful and touching. I loved hearing Peter's name over and over. I am obsessed with his name, wanting to hear it and read it as much as possible. He spoke of how we don't know why we have such a short time with some loved ones, and how it is always especially heartbreaking and mysterious when a child dies. He told a story about a night blooming flower that blooms just once a year at night, and by morning its petals are wilted, and how that reminded him of little Peter who was born at night and gone by morning, and how that flower is mysterious, and so are the ways of the Lord when it comes to a child dying. It was beautiful and touching.
The Mass was absolutely beautufl, and even though I didn't want to be there when I'd woken in the morning, once I was there I relished in it. I cherished every moment, tried to be truly present so that I could remember it all. It felt so right, to be there amongst family, friends, our priest, and the Lord Jesus Christ, to celebrate his short life and thank God for the time we did have. When Fr. Steve insenced the coffin, it all felt so real, so sad, and so beautiful at the same time. As I stood there in the pew next to his tiny casket, watching Fr. Steve use the insence, smelling it, seeing it float up towards the heavens, I cried for sadness but I smiled for joy. I saw that moment as a symbol of his rising to the arms of Jesus. If there is one moment I take with me from that Mass, it will be the memory of the insence, rising around the casket and toward the place where Peter waits for me.