It was Sarah’s funeral today.
Do parents ever get over losing a child? My mother doubts it. She is the oldest in her family, and had four younger siblings. Margaret, the youngest, had Down’s Syndrome.
Note the use of ‘had’. Margaret died in her teens, and according to my mother, her mother never fully recovered.
My manager very kindly let me attend the funeral (many thanks Grizelda) and even said I could take the day off as compassionate leave. I arrived at work in a suit and tie, and had to tell someone I was going to a funeral.
The funeral started at 10 o’ clock. As I’d never before been to the church where it was held, I’d left early in case I got lost. That turned out to be unnecessary as I didn’t, and arrived there half an hour early. In the parking lot I met Sarah’s godparents – whom I also know – and we went in. My parents arrived a little later. Sarah’s parents had asked them to act as photographers, and my father was a pallbearer.
The opening hymn was “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” It was followed by the opening prayer, and then Sarah’s father said the eulogy.
Sarah had diabetes and an overactive thyroid, but what killed her was an embolism. The casket was closed, and I’d wondered if an autopsy had been performed. Her father said many things about her in the eulogy – her love for animals and horseriding; her kindness; the fact that she liked cooking; that she had wanted to become a psychologist.
At the start and end of the funeral, a slideshow was shown. It was pictures of Sarah throughout her life. The pictures were arranged chronologically, from Sarah as a newborn in her mother’s arms at hospital, through her school years right up to her 18th birthday. Interspersed with the pictures were the lines of this poem.
A Child Loaned
“I’ll lend for a little time
A child of Mine”, He said.
“For you to love the while she lives
and mourn for when she’s dead.
It may be six or seven years,
or twenty two or three.
But will you, till I call her back
take care of her for me?
She’ll bring her charms to gladden you,
and should her stay be brief,
you’ll have her lovely memories
as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise she will stay,
since all from Earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked this wide world over
in my search for teachers true,
and from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes
I have selected you.
Now will you give her all your love,
nor think the labour vain,
nor hate me when I come to call
and take her back again?”
I fancied that I heard them say
“Dear Lord, thy will be done.
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,
for the risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter her with tenderness,
we’ll love her while we may,
and for the happiness we’ve known,
forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for her
much sooner than we planned,
we’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
and try to understand.”
Farewell Sarah, and Rest in Peace.