Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Unfinished business: Some photos from a funeral

Jonelle and Dave brought over photos from Gracie Lou's funeral. They came in sometime last week. Jonelle and Dave asked me to post some for everyone who went through the trauma of Gracie Lou's brief time on earth with us this past spring.

So in case you wondered about how that went: Here are some photos from our family's very private funeral held in Virginia on the Lykosh family (Jonelle's older sister's family) farm back on September 12th. And a few comments from Dad/Grandpa John.


Before I get to the funeral photos themselves, I'd like to show you the general location.

The first photo, below was taken from about where the "1" is on the aerial shot above and shooting toward the southeast. The second photo was shot about where the number "2" is in the aerial photo, and shot facing northwest. The gravesite is about at the "x" in the aerial photo. I took the photos below when I visited Amy and Phil in late July.

And with the location down . . . welcome to the funeral.

First, all participants were greeted by Cousin Isaiah, who handed out the program card at the gate just before we got to the tree line, heading down to the grave site.

Considering the mood, you might have wondered what we were doing.

I think there was a foreboding, however.

Phil had dug the grave a couple of days before the funeral and had brought down the gravestone a short while before the service--after Grandma and Grandpa Lilly arrived with Gracie Lou's body and the gravestone.

Those of us from Colorado--the ones who had been present through the entire trauma of Gracie Lou's birth, life and death, were so grateful that Amy and Phil had made the arrangements. I can't tell you what a great relief that was, that they had taken care of these things for us!

Doug Bush, an elder in the Lykoshes' church and an old friend of theirs, graciously agreed to lead us through the funeral service.

Again, a mercy. As you will see shortly, I think the rest of us were too close to shell-shock to have had to lead the service. (Oh, yes. I'm sure if we had been forced to do it, we would have pulled ourselves together. But I am extremely grateful that we were not called upon in that way!)

This photo illustrates the basic set up of the service, even though it was taken relatively late, when the service was almost over.

Doug had invited anyone who wanted to say something to do so. Dave's Mom/Gracie Lou's Grandma Bev shared a number of intimate memories from the few days Gracie Lou was with us. Here I was reading a passage of Scripture--Lamentations 3:4ff (through v. 23). --It seemed to express the bitterness of soul I--and I believe several of us--had been feeling . . . yet it expressed, too, an amazing change of heart and faith that, despite the hardships, I will "call to mind" and I will "hope": "The steadfast love of [YHWH] never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning" (vv. 22-23).

[Side comment: I have never felt comfortable singing the lyrics to "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" as they are written: "Morning by morning, new mercies I see." --Frankly, I don't usually see God's mercies. I have to ask Him to show them to me, because mostly I'm blind. And so if I am to say anything about God's mercies being new every morning, I have to say it strictly on the basis of hope and faith and most definitely not by way of sight!]

Doug pretty well followed the funeral service outline from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. After that: comments . . . and then the reading of a number of Scriptures by members of the family.

The photographer shot photos of most of us as we stood during the service. I am stunned at what they tell of the impact this event was having in our minds and hearts and bodies at that time. Even the littlest ones.

Sister Natalia.

Cousin Abraham.

Grandma and Grandpa Lilly--Bev and Tom.

Aunt Amy (and Cousin Joe)

I find myself tearing up every time I see this photo. I told Jonelle I thought it was too personal.

"No, it's not," said Jonelle. "It is what happened. And people need to know it happened. But yet, in the midst of the sadness, there was great joy. . . ."

And so I share the photo here. Mommy Jonelle and Daddy Dave, Sister Natalia, with Uncle Justin and Aunt Mary in the background.

Something about this photo . . . the sag, the need for comfort, for support . . . we all needed it.

I was stunned to see how haggard I looked. . . . And I was only a grandpa.

. . . Yet, in the midst of all the devastation . . . (indeed, just before the interment) . . . I don't know how this happened, but, somehow, there was an emotional break. . . .

. . . And then, shortly after: the most solemn part. Entrusting Gracie Lou's body into the bowels of the earth. . . .

And the final acts of goodbye. . . .

Phil waited until we had all left before he finished the job.

"It really was a beautiful day," said Jonelle. "In the midst of the pain, there was great joy. . . . And who could ask for a more beautiful spot for a final resting place of someone's earthly remains?"

Prior to the funeral, we had spent an hour or two with a photographer taking family pictures on the farm. And afterward, the Holzmann side of the family enjoyed a scrumptious banquet at the Bushes' house, catered by a local chef who, I am told, has won some awards that hold international distinction.

Yes. All in all, a beautiful day. But, oh! So piquant.
blog comments powered by Disqus