Can I find the strength?

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Wednesday 1st April

Today I must be strong. Stronger than I’ve ever been.

But I’m floored at the first hurdle. I need to ring the Registrar’s Office first thing to confirm our appointment, and make sure they have the necessary paperwork: the Coroner’s Report. All is in order. I’m actually phoning sitting in my son’s bedroom. As I’m speaking I look round at all his clothes and shoes, and realise he will never wear these ever again. It is such a sad thought. I hug my husband and we sob into each other’s shoulders.

Big deep breath, come on, let’s get on with it. Our next task today is to take He Man’s sword down to the florist, so they can start the design for it to placed on a white flowered pillow. We arrive soon after the postman has delivered their business mail. On the top of the pile is our son’s funeral notice, ready to be placed in their shop window. Grief washes over us again as we leave.

We walk down to the church, light candles, and then sit awhile, silently sobbing.

We really must find some inner strength, for our next visit is to the Registrar’s Office. We go in, sit down in an outer waiting room, and almost immediately are called in. Be strong, be strong. We hold hands tightly as the registrar goes through the set of questions that she must ask my husband and I. Everything we have brought along is used to identify our son. From his passport, medical card, birth certificate, benefits letters; everything that proved his identification. Now, the passport corner is clipped, the computer registers his death. That’s it. He is no more. He ceases to exist in the system. We hold it together. We pick up our paperwork and leave.

But walking out, we both break down. I can hardly get to the car. We cry and sob and hurt and feel such loss. We stay in the car park for a long while, before my husband feels able to drive away.

I need to see our son now. We have a form that we must handover to the undertaker, and we have the big beautiful posters of our son, in the back of the car to give to him as well, ready to go into the church. My husband doesn’t think he can do it. Doesn’t think he can go through the doors and look upon our son. I really don’t know what to expect. It’s far too upsetting. But I must see him, no matter what. We do both eventually go in to the Chapel of Rest. I cannot describe how much my heart ached to see him in his coffin. He was wearing the woolly hat, the black velvet jacket, and the t-shirt his brother had bought for him in Spain. Placed around him were the teddy bear and dolphin, and his books. Into one tiny hand we placed his British Airways executive club card, and into the other hand, some American dollars. We also put with him a photograph of the four of us together.

He looked so peaceful as I held his hand and stroked his face. But he was so, so cold. I kissed him and told him I loved him. My husband told him his granddads would look out for him in heaven. We really cried our hearts out. Uncontrollably. It was difficult to leave, but we kissed him goodnight and said we’d be back tomorrow.

It had taken a great deal of strength for my husband to see our son in his coffin. And I’m so glad he did come in with me, as heartbreaking as it was, we all needed to be together.

Later in the evening, my brother and his wife arrived from their long journey from Chicago. All of us went out and met up with my son and his girlfriend, and my sister. I needed to hold my younger son too, and tell him I love him so much.

Today has been incredibly harrowing and traumatic, but we did somehow find the strength to make it through.

 

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