Today was the funeral for the little girl I wrote about in my last blog entry. I went to the funeral with Haley, Kendell, and Kaleb (who was supposed to be sleeping peacefully at home with a babysitter but who refused to shut his eyes), and I came completely prepared to cry. And I did. I cried when I saw Chase's mom, who was wearing pink---her daughter's favorite color---instead of the expected black. I cried at the display table they had set out, covered with school projects, photographs, favorite objects, even last year's letter to Santa. I cried when each of Chase's grandparents got up to speak about their granddaughter. I cried when her parents also talked about her; they were so composed that they were even able to laugh as they spoke with joy about their daughter.
But as I cried, off and on through this pink-and-black funeral, I tried to figure out just why it was that I was crying. I knew Chase from church activities and from seeing her playing on our street, but wasn't very close to her. I wondered---why was it so important to me that I attend this funeral? Partly it was because I felt very strongly that a large attendance would speak to this family, would be a visual message that said we are all mourning for you, as if the black-clad shoulders were stepping stones that could carry them across the turbulence of their grief. Partly, I think I wanted so strongly to go because I don't want it to be me having to experience such a thing. Maybe, my subconscious might have said, maybe if you witness someone else experiencing it, you will never have to experience it yourself. It makes me squirm to write that down, like a confession, but I needed to write it. I do think the part who wanted to mourn for that family was stronger. Because a scripture kept running through my mind, over and over.
This scripture comes from the Book of Mormon. As LDS people, we believe that when we are baptized, one of the things that we promise to do is to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. So as I cried, I tried to offer up my tears as a source of comfort to them. I laughed when they laughed so that one more voice could appreciate what they loved about their daughter and in that sound make her somehow be more remembered. Even my squirmy, honest self-insight I added as extra strength to the stepping stones of mourners' shoulders. But what really made me cry, perhaps because it felt both like a way to give comfort and as a way to receive it, was the song the congregation sang together. It wasn't so much the song (although I'll include the lyrics below). Instead, it was simply the sound of the voices raised together. The sound surrounded all the stepping stone shoulders in a pink mist, and for the minutes of the song, there was nothing but peace and joy in that room. And I felt that the mourning with those who mourn was done both for the family who lost their daughter and for myself. It brought me, for a few moments, to an absolute, rosy stillness within myself. So when I cried, during the song (singing anyway, my voice harsh), I continued to mourn with them---but I also cried with the goodness of that stillness.
I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me
Whenever I hear the song of a bird or look at the blue, blue sky. Whenever I feel the rain on my face or the wind as it rushes by. Whenever I touch a velvet rose or walk by a lilac tree, I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created for me.
He gave me my eyes that I might see the color of butterfly wings. He gave me my ears that I might hear the magical sounds of things. He gave me my life, my mind, my heart, I'll thank him reverently for all his creations of which I'm a part, yes I know Heavenly Father loves me.