Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Funeral

Nov. 18, 2010.  When I woke up this morning, it was so hard to believe what we were going to be doing today.  We were having Chandler's funeral.  How do we get through this?  How do we bury our child?

I started to get ready.  For those of you who know me well then you know that I'm not one to go out in public without my make up on, unless I'm at the beach.  Well, I didn't wear any eye make up today.  What would be the point?  It wouldn't stay and I would have to worry about mascara running down my face all day.  And, at this point, I don't really care how I look anyway.   I would never wear make up again if it would bring my son back.  My family showed up at the house so that we could all head over to the church together.  On the way to Cave Spring Baptist Church, which is where the funeral was held, there was a light rain.  It wasn't raining hard.  It was just a light drizzle and gray skies.  It was fitting for my mood.

When we arrived at the church, we went into the choir room to wait on time to go in and have our family viewing time with Chandler.  When the time came, we walked with the kids to the sanctuary.  The doors were opened and I saw the casket sitting there at the front of the church.  Is this real?  We walked up to the casket and saw Chandler.  He looked so good.  He looked just like he was sleeping.  He was wearing jeans, a blue, long sleeve pullover shirt and his favorite hat that his Poppy had given him years ago.  I touched him, hugged him, held his hand.  It hurt so much to see him there.  I just wanted him to open his eyes and sit up.  I placed a picture of our family there with him in the casket.  Caleb, Corben and Carlie were there with us too.  My heart breaks for them.  They've lost their oldest brother.  Chandler was the best big brother.  He loves his siblings so much.  Chandler and Caleb were only 13 months apart so they've always been together.  When you say their names, they are always said together "Chandler and Caleb".  They've done so much together.   Yes, they are brothers and they argue and fight but they were also best friends.  They hung out together, played video games together, watched movies, rode dirt bikes, went to Puerto Rico with their dad.  The list could go on an on.  Chandler was always so good to Corben and Carlie.  He didn't mind if they would come in his bedroom and hang out with him.  He would use them as actors in the movies he made.  Corben and Carlie always loved that because it meant that he was spending special, quality time with them when they made their movies.  They got his undivided attention.  They laughed so much during those times.  Chandler also has an older sister.  She's 6 years older than he is.  Circumstances haven't allowed us to always be together so we've had to make the best of what time we do have.  But, over the past 4 years or so, Chandler and Alex's relationship has grown stronger.  His sister works at a hair salon.  If we were ever together and Chandler needed a hair cut, Alex would cut it.  Chandler wanted Alex to cut his hair over anybody else.  She always did it to his satisfaction.  He couldn't stand to have his hair messed up by someone who didn't know what they were doing when they cut it.  So, I'm thankful for the growth in their relationship over the past few years.  Even though they weren't together a lot, I know that Chandler loved his older sister and she loves him.

The rest of the family spent time with Chandler there at the casket.  Chandler has some very special cousins in Alabama that couldn't come for the funeral.  They are my sister's kids.  So, Brandi brought pictures of them and placed them in the casket as well so that they would be represented.  They wanted to be here so badly but it was best for them to stay back home.

The time came for others to come and visit and show their support.  The turn out for Chandler's funeral was unbelievable.  So many people came, including so many of our very special friends from Seminary.  They drove or flew from all over to be here with us.  It was so good to have them here with us.  We had seating reserved for them to all sit together during the funeral.  I can't tell you how wonderful it was to look back and see that group of friends sitting there together.  We love those friends and always will. We all have a very special bond.

It was almost time for the service to start.  People were still lined up at the door to see us but we had to cut it short because of time.  Chad, Caleb and I went up to Chandler to say our final goodbyes.  How are we going to do this?  After this, I'll never see Chandler again this side of heaven.  I don't want to say goodbye.  I don't want them to close the casket.  It just isn't right to have to be doing this.  I laid over Chandler's body and just held him and cried.  I love him so much that it hurts.  He was my first born child.  I don't want to walk away from his body.  I don't want to stop holding his hand.  But, I have to.  I lean over and kiss his face and tell him I love him and then I have to leave so that they can close the casket.  Before they closed the casket, they took Chandler's hat off and replaced it with an Alabama hat that his Poppy brought for him.  I wanted to keep his favorite hat with me.  So, the funeral director did that and brought me Chandler's hat and I held it with me the rest of the time.

We enter the sanctuary again with all of the family and sit down for the service.  The service was beautiful.  Chandler's friend, Zack, prepared a slide show so we were able to look at tons of pictures of Chandler as well as his art work during the service.  We had perfect music.  The Newsboys song "No Grave" was the first song played.  "Temporary Home" was toward the middle of the service and "In the hands of God" finished out the service.  Pastor Pete Schemm and Pastor Kyle Osborne led the service. We also had a time where people could share things about Chandler.  This was such a sweet time.  It was so nice to hear different ones talk about Chandler and things that they knew about him and remembered about him.  Some of our Seminary friends shared things they remembered and you couldn't help but smile when they said the things that they did as we remembered our days together.

After the service was over, we had to prepare to drive over to the cemetery for the service there.  We got there, sat in the chairs right in front of the casket and the pall bearers brought the casket over.  We had very special pall bearers picked out for Chandler.  We had his brother Caleb.  We asked Caleb if he wanted to be one first.  I wasn't going to make him do anything he didn't want to do.  He said he wanted to do it.  It was so beautiful and sad to see him there carrying Chandler.  The other pall bearers were Nick Smith, Zach Leet, Josh McKinney, Justin Obenchain, Jay Jones and Rob Eanes.

Pastor Schemm and Pastor Osborne shared some scripture there at the grave.  This is where Pastor Schemm discussed the scripture 1 Thess. 4:16-17.  After they finished up there we stood and walked over to the side where there was a dove waiting to be released.  The man asked if I wanted to be the one to release it and I said "yes".  I stood beside him while he held the dove.  He showed me what to do to release the dove.  He spoke a minute and then I placed my hands on each side of the dove's belly.  I held the dove up, gave a slight shove as I released it.  It was beautiful and so emotional.  After the dove was released, Chad closed the service in prayer which was a perfect ending to the service at the grave.  Afterwards, everyone stayed for a while, hugged us and loved on us.  Then, we had to leave.  We went back to the house and had our family, Seminary friends and other friends come back to the house to visit and eat.

The time with friends that evening was so good.  I don't know that I could have made it through the rest of the day if we had been alone.  All of the people around me helped me get through the evening after Chandler's funeral. 

Our friends, Frank & Crissy spent the night with us.  As tired as we all were, we didn't go to bed until about 1:30 am.  It was just so nice to be with such special people.

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