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Yesterday, I attended Madison’s funeral.

I wanted to share my thoughts.  I hope you’ll read all the way through because, though sad in parts, I think you’ll find yourself chuckling at the end.

Her funeral was held in the gymnasium where she’d spent so much of her high school days…in PE, as a cheerleader, and at various awards ceremonies.

I arrived early to get a seat.  Visitation was scheduled from 10-11.  The doors to the gym opened at 9:30.

Her parents began receiving people immediately, and a line quickly formed.

I was lucky.  I got in line early and waited about fifteen to twenty minutes.

The hugs were tight, let me tell you. The only thing I could say was, “I love you.”  What do you say in a situation like this?

Though the casket was open, I could not walk past it…I just couldn’t.

I’d seen Madison in the hospital, and that was enough.  I preferred to remember her as the vibrant, bouncy child that she’d been before the accident.

Instead, I walked away from Madison’s parents with a very heavy heart and tears flowing down my cheeks.

I joined others on the bleachers and watched, amazed, as the receiving line began to grow.

It wasn’t long before the line wound almost all the way around the entire gym.

I am not exaggerating.

I wondered how in the world the funeral was going to start at 11…if they were going to have to turn people away because of time.

Madison’s parents, though, met with every single person in line…hugged every neck…murmured words into every single set of ears…for almost two hours.

I’m absolutely positive that they greeted hundreds of people.

Around 11:30, the last person had been seated, and the gym grew very quiet as we watched Madison’s parents, brother, and boyfriend stand before the casket, whisper words we could not hear, and stroke her arm one final time.

As they turned to walk away, her mom went back one final time…the last to say goodbye.

I don’t think there was a dry eye in the gym as every person grieved.

As a mother, my heart hurt so badly for Madison’s parents.

Sigh.

The casket was closed while Madison’s immediate family left the gym for a few minutes.

When they returned, the service began with one of the teachers at the school, Mr. W., leading us in prayer and sharing his own “Madison Moments.”

Mr. W. takes his television production students to New York every year, and Madison had been on three of these trips.  She loved New York…so much so that she called Mr. W’s cell phone this past school year (she was in her first year of college), while he was on the trip, and asked him to tell the next person he met that, “Madison said hello.”

She called her mom during that trip and asked her to hold up the phone so she could hear the sounds coming from New York.

Mr. W described the plans that her parents have for her graveside.  He told us that instead of saying we would be visiting her grave, we’d go to Madison’s Square Garden.  Too cute and so fitting!

Madison’s boyfriend stood up and shared his thoughts about Madison.  It was apparent that he loves her a great deal.  Please pray for him as he returns to school and tries to find his way after losing the girl he cares about so much.

One of Madison’s classmates sang a song, and then it was time for the service to end.

The pallbearers…her brother, boyfriend, and cousins…stood up and began wheeling her casket toward the door that lead outside…the rest of her family falling into line behind.

And then we heard it…

The beginning of a song…

A collective laugh went up from all of us.

We couldn’t help it.

It was completely unexpected but, given all we’d heard during the service, so fitting.

As the opening notes played, Madison’s mom turned and began waving slowly.

Then she did something that was so Madison-like.

She began blowing us kisses…every so slowly…mouthing the words, “Thank you.”

I laughed.

I cried.

I’m crying as I write this.

It was probably one of the most bittersweet moments of the entire morning…second only to watching her kiss her beautiful girl for the last time.

The family asked for a private graveside ceremony, and we respected their wishes.

We had honored Madison in the way that befitted her best.

She would have loved it.

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4 Responses

  1. My heart goes out to you all. I’ve attended two too many funerals for young people – one of them my cousin – and I can picture it all. I love that the service truly was a celebration of her life. Thank you for sharing this moment.

  2. Oh my… I’m crying myself…what a fitting tribute. Sounds like an amazing family too…

  3. The service was definitely a celebration of Madison’s life. May her family and her boyfriend find peace and comfort in their memories. May their faith see them through the difficult days ahead.

  4. oh goodness, what a wonderful way to say goodbye 🙂 I teared up reading your words 🙂 praying for comfort for Madison’s family.

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