I never thought I'd say these words, and it still feels surreal to say them: We buried our daughter yesterday. Part of me wants to write and write and lay out all of my thoughts and feelings, and another part of me is holding them all so special and sacred to me that I want to be selfish and keep them to myself. So I guess I'll try to find a happy medium.
Friday night was Josephine's visitation. Jon and I went early to the funeral home to dress her in her burial gown. It had been made by Jon's sister, Jeanne. It came complete with bloomers, a slip and a bonnet. After dressing her, we sat in silence with her. It was amazing to me how beautiful she was. We did take some pictures, but I hesitate to post them. While we will treasure them, I'm not sure how other people would react to pictures of a child who has passed. My mother, stepfather and sister came later with Marian and James. Marian seemed to retreat a little. I'm sure she didn't know how to act or what to say. I didn't either really, and I'm an adult. James saw her, and exclaimed, "My baby!" It was as though he had just realized that he hadn't seen her in three days. He immediately put his hands on her just like he did the first time he saw her in the NICU. He asked to hold her then, so I put him on my lap and then wrapped Josephine in a blanket, so he could say his final goodbyes. Marian then asked to hold her, but she couldn't stand to do so more than briefly. Jon then carried Josephine to her casket. She looked like a little porcelain doll. Her visitation went smoothly. We were happy to see so many friends and family come to pay their respects.
Saturday morning, my dad, stepmother, sister, and brother arrived from Ohio. They arrived just before Jon, the kids, and I left for the church to help get things ready for Josephine's funeral services. We were able to spend the morning with just her and family before they closed her casket. That was the last time I got to see her. Her services were short, but meaningful. We are grateful to Ken Huey and Landon Kirk for agreeing to speak for us. Much of what they said that morning were things that I had read or been taught before, but it was so much more personal that morning. I pray those of you who joined us were able to feel of the Spirit which was there and have peace and comfort.
Finally, on Saturday afternoon, we arrived at the cemetery where Josephine was to be laid to rest. The weather had changed from cool and rainy at the Lake of the Ozarks to very cold and misty in Stella. The weather was just like it was on the day Jon's dad was buried. I'd like to think it was his way of saying he was there. We didn't spend much time there because it was so cold - just long enough for Jon to dedicate her grave. Seeing her casket there and then leaving her there was perhaps the hardest part of the day. How can you turn around and walk away when everything in your being is screaming that you should be holding your baby and leaving with her, not leaving her?
I am comforted in knowing that I will always have her as my daughter. My Josephine will always be my little girl. How wonderful and miraculous! And how grateful I am for the atoning sacrifice of my Savior, Jesus Christ, that allows me to repent of my sins so that I may be worthy to return to live with my Father in Heaven and my dear daughter in the Celestial Kingdom and also to partake in the blessings of the resurrection with her. We will always be a family - an eternal family.