Two days ago, I called the funeral
home holding on to Brecken. It had been a week since we gave the
go ahead with the cremation process. I called to see if it had been done yet as we hadn’t heard
anything. Larry, the funeral director that we had been making arrangements with, informed me that his
cremation process had been finished. He let us know that they had his clothes and blanket he arrived in, his molded
handprints and that Brecken was ready to go home.
When Torry and I
had agreed to have Brecken cremated, I never put too much
thought into the process and what the true outcome of it would be. But after I hung up
the phone it hit me. Hard. I began to imagine Brecken as my little boy who I held in my arms. And
then I thought about him being cremated and the fact that he’d now be a bag of ashes. I already haven’t been able
to fully comprehend that he’s gone. Now I have to comprehend that our precious, perfect little boy that we had created
no longer will be in physical form. He’s ashes. My baby boy is ashes. I sat on the couch and just let it soak in. My
lower lip began to quiver and my eyes began to fill with big globs of tears. I began to cry with my phone half hanging
out of my hand. Torry was sitting on the other couch watching me in silence. I knew he felt my pain and he didn’t
even need to say anything. We both know that we don’t need to say anything. It’s a shared pain unique to ourselves
and only to ourselves. There are many, many more who grieve and feel their own pain in their hearts, but no matter
how much they all try to sympathize, they just don’t know the true extent to this feeling, unless of course, they’ve lost
a child too. A few moments into my sobs, Torry came over, sat next to me, and just held me. That’s just about all we
can do for each other at this point. Nothing will ever erase the pain. It’s something we have to embrace and forcibly
learn to live with for the remainder of our lives.
The tears came flooding once again as we laid in bed that night. We were going to be
bringing our baby boy home…for the last time. It was a mixture of feeling even more devastated and joyous
at the same time. A part of me was excited and partially relieved that he’ll be coming home. He’ll be here, with us,
forever. No matter where we go, he’ll be with us. There’s a slight comfort in knowing that. Laying there crying, I
explained to Torry how I feel like I cry differently now. He asked me what I meant by that. I told him that it’s hard to
explain, but that I cry differently. It’s a new pattern, new noises that creep out, a new meaning behind it all. It’s a cry
filled with so much more pain. My cries will never be the same after this. Before this, my tears didn’t know true pain.
Now, it’s all I taste when a tear trickles to the corner of my mouth. There’s just so much more sadness.
Yesterday morning, Torry had training until 12:30pm and we arranged to go pick Brecken
up right after that. I made sure I was up and ready and looking presentable. I packed up our necklaces we
ordered that are made to hold a little bit of ash of a loved one. The pendants are elephants. They couldn’t be more
perfect. Not knowing how we were going to transport his ashes home, I packed up my 31 utility tote in preparation.
Torry came home and waited outside for me to hop in the car. We drove to the original funeral location that Brecken
had been brought to after he passed away. But once there, we found out he actually was at their downtown
location because that’s where their crematory is. Back in the car we went. Once we arrived, Torry and I held hands
on our way in. We always hold hands, that’s just the kind of couple we are, but when it comes to anything relating to
our son, there’s a different grip to our hold. We hang on a little tighter, a little firmer. It’s telling each other that
we’re here for one another and that we’re not going in this alone. It’s telling each other here’s a little extra squeeze to
send strength to our hearts as we take another step to finalizing Brecken’s passing. Another step towards healing.
We were instantly greeted by Larry.
He knew we were arriving at anytime. We handed him the necklaces and
he told us to have a seat while he filled and sealed them. It wouldn’t take long at all. We sat on a floral antique
styled couch. We sat in silence, listening to the soft music playing, both noticing the distracting static coming
from the speakers. A few minutes later, the door Larry had walked through with the necklaces opened and I shot
up assuming it was him. Instead it was someone else. I recognized him instantly. He was the last person who held
our son in our home before walking out the door with him. He was the coroner who picked Brecken up and took him
to the funeral home. I’ll never forget watching Torry hand Brecken to him. I’ll never forget Torry and I holding each
other while I put one hand on Brecken’s head. Getting one last feel. Engraving that touch into my hand one last time.
I never caught his name, but I remember how compassionate he was just standing there, allowing me to take the extra
time with him. Everyone was so patient. He took a glance at us as he walked by, but he didn’t show any indication
that he had recognized us. Or maybe he did and didn’t want to bring up the fact that had been the one to pick up our
son. Maybe he didn’t want to acknowledge that memory.
Once he walked on by, we continued to sit in silence. This time, the ticking of the
grandfather clock consumed the silence. The music had stopped playing through the speakers, and we could
hear laughter coming from another room. Torry and I were still holding hands. Our grip getting harder. Torry
began to shake his leg repeatedly in anticipation. Finally, Larry walked through the door with a plain, green paper
gift bag. He came over and kneeled down on one knee in front of us. First, he pulled out the handprints they had
molded. Brecken’s name and birthdate are on them as well. Then he showed us a plastic bag that had Brecken’s
clothes and blanket in it. Then….then he pulled out a small, velvet pull-string bag with their funeral home
logo on it. This bag held Brecken’s ashes. My first thought was noticing how incredibly small that bag was. I
Brecken was extremely tiny by time he passed away, but I didn’t think he’d produce such a small amount of ashes.
I sat there and stared at the bag while Larry held it in front of us. I was face to face with my son again. Being in
his presence again was overwhelming. Knowing he was now ashes was overwhelming. I started to cry. Torry and I
worked so hard to take care of him while I was pregnant. And now we were looking at the result of our hard work.
It was just too much. After a few moments of crying while Larry held the bag, I finally reached out for it. I wanted
to hold my baby. I wanted to feel his new weight in my hands. I cried a little harder and by this time
I noticed Torry’s sobs. We sat and cried as Larry silently looked on.
Once we finally quieted down, Larry got himself into the chair next to us and said
that we had to sign a piece of paper to confirm that we had picked him up. Torry instantly reached for it since
I was busy holding our son. Larry, lastly, told us that if we did decided to have a service for him
later down the road to let him know and he’d help us arrange it. We thanked him, placed Brecken back into the green
bag and made our way to the exit. We turned to say our last goodbye’s, shake Larry’s hands, thanked him again,
and walked out the door and into the sunlight.
On our drive home, I pulled out
Brecken’s sleeper he last wore. I looked it over, wanting to see the stains on it from
his wearing it for several days. I didn’t see any. So I put it up to my nose and smelled it. It smelled like it was
freshly washed. I was disappointed and saddened. I didn’t know they’d be washing his things. If I had known
they did that, I would have asked them not to. I wanted his scent to be left on his things. There wasn’t much I could
do about it so I let it go, folded it back up and placed it back in the bag. Once we arrived home, I sat on the couch and
pulled out the velvet pouch. I had never seen human ashes before so I was really curious. I pulled the drawstrings
open and reached in for the clear plastic bag they were enclosed in. Brecken’s ashes only filled about half of the actual
size of the velvet bag. That sent an even more shock through me when I realized that. It saddened me that
there was just only a little bit of him. I sat and looked his ashes over for a little bit and placed him back into the
velvet bag. For now he will remain in this bag until his urn is complete as I am having my talented
cousin, Meghan make it. Her BFA concentration in college was ceramics and she had won our overall
senior art exhibit award, so it was only natural to ask her to design his urn. I told her the few specifics I wanted
on it and from there she could have free design. She felt honored to be the one making this very important and
meaningful piece for us. I’m honored that she’s willing to do it.
As you may have gathered reading this,
we decided on not having a funeral for Brecken. It took us the first week after
his passing to make the decision, but we felt that we didn’t want one. We just knew we wanted to cremate
him and have his remains placed in an urn where we can have him home. I’m not comfortable burying
my son. Torry and I don’t know if one day we’ll move from this city and I couldn’t stand the thought
of moving away while his body was buried here. It just didn’t feel right. What feels right and natural for us right now
is to have him, here at home. Where he belongs. I still get to care for him. I still get to feel and
physically see his presence and that brings me a sort of peace. As I write this, I can look up from my screen
and see the velvet bag he’s resting in. I don’t know what to think of it exactly, as it’s still
new. A part of me is happy and at peace, but part of me hurts…horribly.
All I do know is that I’m a little more at ease knowing that he’s in my care once again.
1 of our 2 elephant pendants that holds some of Brecken’s ashes.