Monday, July 18, 2011
Day Twenty Six
When Kara was pregnant with James, I wrote him everyday. Most days I curled up at the end of the day and wrote to him in a gmail document, snippets of of the day and of him. Some days I just jotted off notes on pieces of paper and added them in later. I told him what size fruit he was every week, what we were learning about him. I told him about all the fun things we were going to do together. We called him the bean before we knew him as James. We got the idea from his first ultrasound, when his beating heart surprised our Doctor. He was ahead of schedule- the boy was always precocious. I thought he was a girl. Kara knew better. When I wrote that, I wanted to give it to him one day, on a birthday or some other milestone. I wanted him to take it with him and know how we loved him totally from the time we first knew him, before we gave him a name or even knew what kind of name to give him. That I thought of him everyday.
Sometimes, I feel like I'm still writing that letter to him here, pausing each day to write. We just won't get a chance to talk about it, James and I. What I hope and pray is that I'll find another way to get that letter to him.
We are still doing. Doing this, doing that, doing anything but. We sprang awake this morning- late but eager- and began the day with a barrage of phone calls. Schedule time with the funeral home. Schedule a time at the cemetery. Call charities to explore options. We were in the car for the funeral home within an hour of waking up.
I wish I could say our funeral home experience went well. It did not. We arrived were handed off to a director in a back room. He fumbled immediately by spelling my name wrong on the death certificate, then following up by asking us what education level our eight month old son had attained. Why "less than eighth grade" wasn't simply checked is beyond me. We were not pleased. We couldn't look at caskets. They didn't have the baby ones there. We looked at a brochure, full of gingham monstrosities and designs which should never exist. He suggested a plastic one for $600. We were not amused. The whole catalog shouldn't exist. We selected the least offensive, poplar wood and not very baby. In our minds, James never seemed like just a baby. He was a whole person, with a personality and an identity apart from merely being an infant. He was James Camden Sikes, our son. He was not just our baby. After we selected, we were told we couldn't get it in until Thursday- after we'd scheduled James' service. The details were sketchy, we scrambled looking elsewhere, pitched a fit, I pulled the lawyer card and lo and behold, problem solved. We received a discount for our trouble. As if it mattered.
We then ventured out to the cemetery- the one in Denton where Kara has family. We'd liked it the most yesterday, and we felt good about it. The environment was totally different, in a much better way. No corporate offices (as one cemetery salesman told us, "This is the very best of our 600 cemeteries") just an old country woman behind a desk, with a map of spots. A fraction of the cost. We were shown a few spaces and finally chose a block of three by a newly planted tree where we could put a bench. We bought all three. James will take the middle spot. We'll follow. Once upon a time, we asked each other but never answered "Where would you want to be buried?" Now the answer is obvious and simple. "With James."
We went home and our families were over. We burned time sorting through decisions. Pallbearers. Clothes. Songs. Pictures. We did all of that and we managed not to deal with a lot. We ate. And here we are again, another day spent. We'll run out of decisions, plots to buy, and things to plan eventually. We'll have to deal with emptiness, with the lack of James. But not yet. Florist in the morning. Always something.
Thank all of you for your e-mails, comments and prayers. We are horrible at responding, but we read each one. We are truly grateful for the impact James has had on the world.