The close circle of friends that Amanda and I share have all been affected profoundly and deeply by William's life, and by his passing. We are spread throughout the country, and so when the time came for his memorial service I was the only one of us able to attend. But I wanted to share with them, in a personal way, the cold January day when we said goodbye to such a sweet, sweet spirit. So I wrote this to them, and with the Schultz's permission, now I share it with you.
It was the warmest morning we’ve had here for weeks. The sun was shining, and there was almost no wind. We arrived in Lincoln at the church at about 10:00am. As we walked in, the entry of the church was filled with William. There were pictures in frames of just William and of him with Amanda, Bill, Caroline, and combinations of all. On the table with the card basket (where I placed our cards), as well as down in the fellowship hall where we would meet for lunch after the service, were scrapbook pages, laid out, and filled with pictures of William, adorned with sweet little decorative touches in the same colors as William’s first birthday party, with blank cards on each page for us, the guests, to sign and leave memorials to William. Also on the table was a large framed picture of him, with a matte that everyone signed. Needless to say I was in tears from the moment we walked in.
We made our way into the sanctuary, took our seat, and began waiting. The sanctuary filled up quickly - families with children, couples young and old, groups of young girls (“young“, meaning about our ages), presumably friends and family of Amanda and Bill’s. I was surprised to see that so many had brought their young children, as young as one or so. I continued to be upset for the half an hour we waited for the service to start, fighting tears the whole time, and not always winning that fight. Greg held my hand and kept his arm around me, fighting tears of his own. I tried to focus on the flowers, there were so many…but those just made me cry, too…I wound up trying to remember what was on my grocery list on my refrigerator at home, just to buy myself a few minutes of letting my face dry. They were playing Christian music in the background, which talked about God’s grace, salvation and love, and His promise of life everlasting to those who die.
About 10:40, the family came. And so did more tears. Three rows they filled, led by Amanda and Bill, holding sweet Caroline. They all looked beautiful ~ Caroline in a pretty dress with her hair pulled back, Bill dressed in tan, and Amanda dressed in those pretty shades of turquoise and brown. They came in, smiling through tears and took their seats at the front, but not before the three of them walked up to the altar and lit William‘s baptismal candle. The service began, and as they began, the leaders called for a celebration of William’s life and of God’s glory and power throughout this service. And they did just that. Bill and Amanda are MUCH more giving, faithful and spirit-filled than Greg or I, that much I know for sure. They lifted God’s name, hands raised, sang his praises and rejoiced at William’s new eternal home.
The funeral home put together a photo montage of William’s life (set to songs like “Masterpiece“ by Sandi Patty, “Godspeed“ by the Dixie Chicks and others that ripped your heart out), and that took care of any dry eyes in the building. To see his sweet face in front of us while we watched his parents give thanks for the time they had with him was too much. Just too much. We all rose to sing songs like “I Can Only Imagine” throughout the service, and as the family walked out the praise and worship team sang “I’ll Fly Away”. I have never been so grateful to leave a sanctuary as I was when we were ushered out.
Then we waited in line in the hallway to go down to the fellowship hall, where Amanda and Bill greeted each guest in a receiving line. We hugged for so long when it was my turn, and we both struggled for words but found that we needed none, except for "I"m sorry" and "I know". Looking in her eyes, and she in mine, each of us knowing the pain we felt, each knowing the friendship we share is all we have to exchange, and all we really need, was enough. We talked for a minute, and then again after we ate the lunch they provided, we shared a few moments of tears and laughter. And then Greg and I went on our way to let Amanda and Bill have their lunch and continue their fellowshipping with the countless people who were there for them.
I wanted to share with you how the day went. So here it is. I will tell you what Amanda told me before we left: Hug your babies.
Rest in peace, sweet baby William.