Burying our Baby

We had walked down the aisle of our church many times, including on our wedding day. Today wasn’t such a fun walk. Instead of my husband waiting for me at the end of the aisle, it was a tiny white coffin with our baby inside.

Again, we were surrounded by a huge support network of friends and family. So many people had been touched by Cody’s birth and death. Strangely, the midwife who had been present at his birth was one of those in attendance. Stranger still, we had invited her to come. We hadn’t yet come to terms with the full extent of Cody’s negligent care, so her presence there on the day was a positive thing for us at the time. We felt a sense of connection to her. I will write more about this, and my journey to forgiveness, in a later post. Today I write about Cody.

This is one of the songs that we had at Cody’s funeral service and I am still moved to tears when I listen to it. Not just because it reminds me of my little boy, but also because it gives me hope.

Found at Beemp3.com

We held the funeral service at our church “home”, a place where we felt very comfortable. It was the church I’d grown up in, the church we’d gotten married in, and the church we had attended together for many years. The people there were like our extended family, and together we had experienced great joy, community and fun. What we didn’t realise was that holding the service there was going to attach a memory to that special place that was darker and more sombre than what we were familiar with.

I still remember the day, some weeks or months later, as we walked into that church building, and noticed immediately that the song being sung was one of the songs that had been sung at Cody’s funeral. The juxtaposition of memories of both great joy and deep sorrow in the one building added a complexity to our experience of attending church services there in the months to come.

Hold me close, Let Your love surround me
Bring me near, Draw me to Your side.
And as I wait I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You, Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love.

During the service, our ‘big’ boy, Travis, was free to wander and play. The service was for him too. And he chose to spend most of the time playing with his little matchbox cars, driving them all around on the floor underneath the coffin, and up over the wheels of the coffin trolley. The idea of him playing with his brother did not escape unnoticed. It was the closest they would ever come to connecting, other than the time Travis dropped cracker crumbs over the body of his brother, during our time together after Cody died.

Geoff and I both spoke at the funeral. I did not believe it was possible to have such a thick veil of tears blocking my vision throughout the whole ordeal, making it almost impossible to read the words. Windscreen wipers would have come in handy!

I remember an older lady coming up to me outside the church after the service. She said that she had felt unable to cope with coming inside, having had one of her babies die many years earlier (she was now a grandmother), but she had a message for me, wanting me to know that “Time does heal”. I found it hard to believe, being as she was still, after all these years, unable to attend the funeral of another baby. Strangely, though, I did find her words comforting at the time. Perhaps because I knew her as a lovely lady who lived a great life, and so I knew it may be possible for me to do the same.

We made our way to “Babyland” at a beautifully landscaped cemetery near our home, for the burial of our son. It was a short, simple, and very, very sad service. Thankfully we had someone pre-arranged to care for Travis during all of this, because we were, for the most part, completely incapable of functioning. We did, however, manage to have some time at the grave side with him, to scatter rose petals on the coffin and “say goodbye” (I couldn’t say those words though – it was too soon).

A dear friend sang the simple song, “Jesus Loves Me”, without accompaniment, as the coffin was lowered into the ground. I think the pictures say it all.

One of the hidden heartaches of the funeral was the presence of cabbage leaves in my bra, in an effort to dry up the milk that was pooling there, waiting for a baby to feed. I was developing mastitis, because I had no baby. My body was telling me in every way that I had just given birth, but my baby was in the ground and my arms were empty.

Fortunately, there were arms around me. Arms that held me up when I couldn’t stand. Arms of love, compassion and support. Arms that carried us along in those early days. I am forever thankful for my grieving, loving family and friends – “God with skin on“.

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