So, I managed to stay away from the computer for five whole days. I didn't even check e-mail by phone. My reward--312 e-mails. Very few of them spam.
Well, I finished the chapter--more on that in a moment.
We're in the midst of moving to a larger place. Some family came back with us to Texas on Sunday, so it's been a hectic couple of days.
I made it through the funeral and I want to talk about it because I've been thinking so much about it. When I got to Louisiana Friday night, I went to Sam's wake then to his mom's house. She let me see the funeral program, at which point I noticed she was going to sing. "We're not going to be able to take that," I told her. But she told me, "I want to send my baby off right."
And she did. Sam arrived at the church in a horse drawn carriage and was carried to the front of the sanctuary by attendants who sang "Soon I Will Be Done." That was a little hard to take. But she had requested that our pastor and the other soloists treat the service like a Sunday morning celebration. So there were upbeat songs--no "Precious Lord" or "I Won't Complain," songs that tend to be really hard on a grieving family.
When she got up to sing, she said, "I know people are saying, how is that woman singing at her child's funeral. But if you knew my child, you knew he was a happy person. He was a happy person. So this is for my baby." And she sang "They Got the Word," another fast-tempoed song with an uplifting message.
Still, I had to make myself breathe when they opened the coffin for the final viewing--one of the attendants sang "Open the Floodgates of Heaven." The primary verse is simple, "Lord, I want you to open the floodgates of heaven; let it rain." And just as they lifted the top, he switched the verse to say, "It's raining." I've been replaying that moment since Saturday--I miss him, the thought of him, the silly kid stuff we did--more than I thought I did. I keep thinking about how, one day when we were young and our moms were deep in conversation, I told him I was hungry. He fixed me lunch--a peanut butter and syrup sandwich and I said, "Ugh, Sam, that's nasty. That's why your teeth look like that!" (Several of his baby teeth went missing before he got the permanent ones). But he kept on until I tried the damned sandwich.
And, I'm ashamed to say, I ate every bit of it.
We buried Sam beside his father--he died of a heart attack, too, in his forties. I talked to his mom yesterday. She was mad because she found out from his ex-girlfriend that he knew he had an arterial blockage, that he was supposed to go for more tests or something in Little Rock. His response had been, "I ain't going to no damned Little Rock." "This whole last week," she told me, "I've been asking myself, what didn't he tell me? What didn't I know? And now I know." "They think nothing will ever happen to them," I said.
After a few more minutes, she teased, "You survived my song." "Mm-hmm. I'm glad you didn't sing anything slow." She laughed and said, "I wouldn't have done that. But I asked God for strength, to let me do that for me and Sam. And when I made it through, that did me a world of good. That was all I needed."