Saturday, January 9, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I suppose if you live long enough, you get to plan your own funeral. You pick out Scripture verses, music, quotations you deem appropriate. But not everyone has a choice. Death comes as a nasty surprise. You have to hope, then, that the people in charge of the service can figure things out without your assistance.

I remember going to the funeral home after Evan died. A parent's worst nightmare, people always say, is to lose a child. Pouring over a brochure about caskets, looking at gravesites (with a thoroughly unpleasant salesman), and planning the service. The music minister and organist came over and wanted to know the music we'd like played before and during the service and the pastor asked about scriptures and quotations. Suggestions were made, and we settled on those that seemed special. We chose the song "Be Thou My Vision" as one of the hymns, because that was something I always sang for Evan at naps and bedtimes. And also "The Lord's Prayer" (sung by a wonderful tenor.) Evan called it "Our Father." It was a special song that grandma and Mommy sang to him. I asked my brother in law, Mark, to read "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. We have a copy of the poem with illustrations by Susan Jeffers that Evan loved.

I have found that now when I read one of Evan's favorites, 3 years after his death, I still have a hard time. Sometimes I cry a little bit and hug Miranda or Duncan a little tighter. I haven't sung "Be Thou My Vision" to Duncan or Miranda. When I hear it played at church I break down. It's just too much. I haven't read the Robert Frost poem, either.

Recently I was reading another of Evan's favorites, "Little Tree" by e.e. cummings. You probably remember cummings from your schools days...for the lack of capital letters. And the lack of rhyming. When I was younger, I didn't think it was poetry unless it rhymed! "Little Tree" is a Christmas poem. We have the version illustrated my Mary Claire Smith. A little tree is selected from the forest by the angels to be a Christmas tree. When I read it I think of Evan as the little tree. The angels take him and tell him not to be afraid. The tree is decorated and placed in a place of honor. I thought to myself recently, "Why didn't we have this read at Evan's funeral? It's perfect." Of course, then I may not want to read it, either. After swallowing the lump in my throat and reading the book to Duncan at bedtime two nights ago, he asked about the angels in the pictures. At the end of the book the illustrator has them flying off into the sky. Duncan asked where they were going. I said, "They're going back to Heaven. Their job is done." He said that the angels were going to their house in Heaven. I said, "Mmm...ok." He chose "Little Tree" again last night, and again at the end of the book he asked where the angels were flying. I said, "Back to Heaven." And he said, "Yeah, to Evan's house." Of course, I got all misty, and agreed that's where they were flying.

little tree by e.e. cummings

little tree

little silent Christmas tree

you are so little

you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest

and were you very sorry to come away?

see i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark

and hug you safe and tight

just as your mother would,

only don't be afraid

look the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms

and i'll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won't a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed

you'll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they'll stare!

oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands

and looking up at our beautiful tree

we'll dance and sing

"Noel Noel"


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The wisdom of babes.
Be Thou My Vision is my OH's favourite.


Pam said...

It's such a beautiful song. I didn't mention that it was also sung at our wedding! It makes me sad that it's hard to listen to now.

Betharoopie said...

Such a lovely post.

Robin said...

beautiful thoughts. thanks for sharing. xo

Trish Verfurth said...

Pam, Thank you for sharing such a beautiful but painful memory. Much to my surprise, three years after Evan's almost fatal night, I too still cry when I tell of Evan's second seizure and how I begged God not to take my Evan away from me. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelmeing as you know. I continue to think you and your beautiful little angel.