How does a mother say good-bye to her son? The day began by finishing up the picture display and then going to see the flower arrangements created for the service. My sister-in-law offered to create a few arrangements made from flowers from my in-laws' yard, the family cabin, her yard, and her friend's yard. They were all beautiful and very special. There was an arrangement for every family group--parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts/uncles, and cousins. Our arrangement was purple--the color of his birthstone. The arrangement from his grandparents were peonies that Andrew had helped Grandpa plant. A wreath of cabin greens would be from his aunts and uncles--a place where we spent many special times with family. The flowers were just one way this service would be special.
Next we went to the fairgrounds to set up the picture displays. Not only would we be able to gather in the Youth Building, but they were opening up the Pavilion for overflow. Once again, people were so thoughtful and kind. When we arrived at the fairgrounds, the summer crew was cleaning the place. Michael, a young man who had served as the manager for Andrew's football and basketball team, was washing the parking area. When we went into the Pavilion, we saw girls and boys who were high school mates of his, even though they had been upperclassmen. One of the girls was a student of mine who had just finished her first year at WSU. I saw the same sadness in their faces that we had seen all week. I also saw the uncertainty of what to say. Their boss was a gentleman who had been so kind to Andrew on the golf course. They would have made great golfing buddies.
The rest of the morning is just a blur. I do remember sitting in the house with the kids, just waiting until it was time to go. I wanted to go pretty early to greet people. However, so many arrived before we did. I saw so many friends--friends who had the same sadness in their eyes that we did. We tried to hug as many as we could before the service began, because we didn't know what the after would bring.
It saddens me that Andrew forgot how much he was loved. So many came to honor his life that June afternoon on that beautiful hill overlooking Dayton. His basketball teammates arrived in a school bus--how appropriate was that considering Andrew never wanted to ride home with us from a game--he wanted to be on the bus with his team. The Waitsburg-Prescott football team came in their jerseys. So much crimson and gold worn by the high school friends. So much sadness in eyes so young. Even though we were there to honor and remember my son's brief life, there was just so much sadness.
The service helped to ease some of that sadness. Two men who are spiritual advisers to us took part in the service. Our current pastor led most of the service, but the pastor who had married us and who had dedicated Andrew's life to God shared memories of Andrew's early years. Two special classmates sang a beautiful song. Mike read a poem I had been given entitled "Loan." It was a wonderful way to say good-bye to Andrew. At the close of the service, friends of his came to give us flowers to lay on Andrew's grave. As they gave Bill or me a flower, they also gave us a precious hug that would help to ease the pain of the day. The kids in our lives have been wonderful through all of this. We need to remind them every day how precious they are to us.
As we were preparing to leave, I went to look one more time at all the flowers on Andrew's grave. Along with the flowers, one of the cheerleaders left her crimson and gold pom poms. Crimson and gold spirit beads also had been left. However, the one thing that didn't quite register was the football jersey. It was white with the blue numbers 42. Suddenly, I understood. It was Clint's football jersey from high school. He wanted it to be buried with him. Even at the end, he wanted to take care of his little brother.
I can't tell you how hard it was to leave Andrew. Even though I know those are just his remains, that is my baby. He never liked the dark. How can I leave him? But leave him I must, we have people to go see.