It finally happened. Last night, Brady and I went to retrieve our sons cremains from a funeral home in Saskatoon.
Can we quickly just discuss the term “cremains?” I feel like thats a word I’d make up as a joke. A play on words, basically. I’m awful for making those kinds of jokes, combining two words and thinking I”m hilarious. I have a pretty dry sense of humor, if you hadn’t yet learned this about me. So anyway, cremains. Not as funny as my usual plays on words.
Brady and I drove to the funeral home fairly silently. We shared a brief conversation about how we imagined things might go down, but really, neither of us had any idea what to expect. We were as “prepared” as we could possibly be, which was not at all. I had done my hair and put on makeup, but in no way was I “ready.” But I remembered that we were literally going to a funeral home. They didn’t expect us to be fabulous and upbeat and experienced. No one wants to be experienced with this. So we found the place, circled the block, and finally parked.
It was so quiet when we walked in. We rang a little bell on the wall and waited for someone to come talk to us. Its a really lovely set up there, actually. They have someone in house literally 24/7. This ensures that people can feel like their loved ones are never left alone or vulnerable, and also that people can come and grieve however they need to at any hour of the day or night. Its quite a wonderful gift to have someone there outside of regular business hours.
A man came and greeted us after a minute or two, and Brady offered up the reason for our visit. The man didn’t offer much up but he said he would be back shortly. Just that short conversation was on the exhausting side, but I was SO thankful that Brady did the talking so I didn’t have to. We sat and waited for our son to arrive. In the meantime, we watched some fish swim around on the small tv screen on the wall and debated the likelihood of it being a live feed or just a prerecorded video. (It was a video.) I really liked the fish that looked like Toothless from “How to Train your Dragon.”
Yes, I admit, I looked for humour as we sat and waited for our son. It was either that or cry. I chose dragon spotting.
It took longer than I expected for the man to return, and I was starting to wonder if Jamin had been misplaced, or there was an issue. But I didn’t say anything out loud, in case Brady wasn’t going there, I didn’t want to bring him into my crazy. Thank goodness, we did eventually hear footsteps, and the man helping us had reappeared carrying something very important to us in his hands. He passed Brady a box wrapped in a dark velvet bag, who then passed it right to me. It was so light. We also received a letter confirming Jamin’s cremation and that the box holds his ashes. The official record of him and how his body was handled after he died. We showed some ID to prove that we are, in fact, his parents, signed a couple of forms, and we were on our way.
I admit, I was so nervous he’d try to sell us on things at that point. Internment, burial, urns, etc. But he didn’t, which I am so thankful for.
I don’t think Brady and I have ever held hands so tightly. It was like, when you’re holding hands for a short time, and you squeeze hands for a minute, just to acknowledge something secretly. We were just holding on for dear life.
We took a longer walk to our van rather than just ducking across the empty street. We tried to jut breathe. It felt like an effort. When we finally made it back to our van, we had our big cry together. I’ve always been comfortable being emotional around Brady, but I wish it wasn’t so dang familiar these days. We have done more than our share of crying together. I hope we can do more laughing together soon.
Before we drove off, we braved up and opened the letter up. It was a quick, official read, nothing too fancy in there. Jamin’s name is spelled wrong everywhere, which makes me sad. We could’ve corrected it in the hospital, but I couldn’t imagine nitpicking over something so small at that time. Its ok. We know how his name is spelled. The letter itself was unremarkable, anyway. We pulled the box out of the velvet bag, and saw it was just your basic white thin cardboard box. It was taped up tight. Which makes sense, I suppose. What was I expecting? To open it and find a ziploc bag of ashes? I don’t even know what to make of that. I don’t want to find out. So Brady and I decided we had done enough brave things for one day, put our precious little box back into the soft bag, and headed home.
This post has already turned out so much longer than I anticipated it would, so I think I’m going to call it. The point of the story is Jamin is home. He’s not home how I ever pictured bringing a baby home, but as I keep learning, my plans don’t really mean too much. None of our plans do. Anything can change at any moment, and we can’t hold on to things of the world. We can try, but flesh fails and disappoints. We can only count on God.
Welcome home, Jamin. You are dearly loved here.