This morning I went to visit Perry briefly before going home. I originally had the shift off, but turned it in for somebody else to celebrate with their family because I don't really want to. Today is just a stinging sensation, can't put up stockings, don't want to wrap presents. Don't want it to be Perry's first Christmas because he is gone. I am actually a bit sad the church down the road isn't having a Christmas Eve Service. It would be nice to go spend part of the Holiday with Perry in a sense. I had it in my mind that I wanted to attend Church there that night, and light a little candle for Perry before we went in so we would all have them. They have invited us there before, and while I do not want to attend full time, it would be nice to go sometimes. Put money in the plate so this little church can afford to pay someone to mow and tend the churchyard, keep the lights on in the building.
I can't explain why, but it is incredibly comforting to think that there is a church by Perry. I guess it is explainable, when you are standing at his little spot and look up with blurry eyes, you can see the cross in the bricks. He isn't there, in a strange way he is in the church when the body of Christ meets. It isn't a cemetary, it is still part of the church grounds. There is something nice about the fact that the potential for Perry began as we were joined in a little chapel and his body is by one now.
I really do think that in some ways we have things surrounding death wrong these days. We take the churchyards away and turn them into cemetaries away from churches. We have impersonal hands caring for the bodies of our loved ones... from the funeral homes, to the hands/machines that bury them, to the years following in the cemetary. Even to the point of removing loved ones from their homes to die in a strange place. We have removed it as a part of living. It would not be as hard for people to grieve and keep the eternal perspective if we still had the churchyards. If we saw the church as we grieved. But we replace this space with more parking spots.
I have been to many churches that put glass windows to keep reminding Christians that they are a part of this earth. Perhaps we still have our stained glass windows because we have tucked away an inevitable (uncomfortable for many) part of life, even though the glass is crystal clear.
We send people to the mission fields, but do not always go into the nursing homes or hospice centers. Do we lose people to Christ because we have sanitized life from death in our own churches?
I have thought about this, and when I am ready I might start visiting nursing homes with Emily. I have met some incredible people on calls to nursing homes, maybe it is time to become friends with a few? Visit them in a place where visitors can sometimes be far between? I think I just need a little more healing time before I can do this, but it is a thought. At worst you gave someone a friendship that needed one. I also need to figure out how Emily will react, but she has no bad memories associated with nursing homes. She might even find new friends who would actually appreciate her artwork.
Perry was loved from conception to now. He was surrounded by people that cared every moment of his life, and even for most of the time after he had left. I knew the nurse in the hospital that listened to his heartbeat minutes before he was born. I knew the Sherrif's deputies, paramedics that arrived the day he died. Within minutes people from our fire departments and church were there. Our neighbor down the road works at the funeral home. His memorial was at our main church campus where he had been at the fall festival only a brief while before. He was buried by the men in and that surround our family. He is a short way away. He is not out of sight and forgotten, has never been.
The trick in the coming days, weeks, years is to keep him in our memories while letting go of the pain. Keeping him in the window of our minds as we continue to live, until one day we walk through the door to him. He is too sweet a blessing to turn into only pain. We owe him that much.