Just around the bend, there is a church…past the Indian Mission, and up the hill a bit.
My friend and I walk past this church twice each day.
Sometimes when we walk past, there are limousines and a multitude of cars.
A police escort, waiting in the wings…
All pointing to a life celebrated, respects being offered, ritual and ceremony in progress.
There is comfort in that.
So, on December 6, 2006 at about 9:30 on a crisp winter morning…
I thought we were driving towards this comfort…this process.
As we drove from one world to another…all within the same big city…
To our final destination just past Washington on 5th Street…
What awaited us was quite different.
You see, we were about to lay to rest Sweet Baby Saige…
The baby sister of our beautiful children.
The funeral home stood alone, between two empty lots.
There were a few cars.
An old limo in the drive.
Going in, with Mama and Daddy and Mr. Z – this was a hard thing to do.
As we walked in to the entryway, my eyes filled.
There, waiting for us…was Mr. Z’s brother, a good friend from college, and my lifesaver from kindergarten with her husband.
This was not their stomping ground…
They were here…for us…for Saige.
When we went into the room filled with two sets of pews, and an aisle in between…
There were questioning looks, acceptance, and grief.
This aisle might as well have been labeled County Line Road
Dividing Johnson County from Wyandotte County
Haves from have nots – or so it would seem
And here we were together –
This is the moment I hate…in any funeral
Walking past a casket..to see where a soul used to be
I hate that
The casket was so small…
Plastic I think
Ugly clips on the sides
And Saige…in her little bonnet
Too still, too pale.
As I turned away, I saw her mom…
The biological mother of my babies.
Her eyes full of tears, and opened her arms to embrace me.
Me…the woman who has her children…the woman who comforted her baby while she died.
Grief opens doors I guess.
I whispered my sorrow in her ear, and quietly sat.
Finally, the grandmother came over to speak to me a bit, and I said that when it was time to share memories…
I would be glad to do so, since many had not yet met Miss Saige.
She whispered in her daughter’s ear…and then they both nodded to me.
To proceed…right then.
So, a bit perplexed…I did.
I stood in front of Sweet Baby Saige, and her unlikely group of mourners
I talked about how excited we were, when we heard she was coming…
And how beautiful she looked…when she came in the door
How it seemed she knew I was so scared…to change such a tiny diaper
So she comforted me, as her brother MC would, with humor
By wetting on my hand as I changed her;)
And how she looked so much like BB already…and threw her head back just like he does, when he’s pitching a fit
A head made of granite I think (this made his other mama laugh)
And how her big sister took utter delight, in trying on every hat and bow we found for her
all in the span of one afternoon.
She showed us so much
So much of who she was, all in 24 hours…
The value of 24 hours…this is what she gave me
She was here, and it mattered, and she will not be forgotten…
This is what I said.
I only had to stop once, to breathe…and gather.
And when I was done…they clapped.
It all felt strange.
Two men mumbled a prayer.
Fumbled with the clips.
And hauled her away.
I felt sick at the irreverence…
The utter lack of respect.
She was here…and it mattered…she was wanted…anticipated…loved.
Sent on her way
Through the truth
on either side
of the County Line.