As our friend Kelly spoke about her son, I clutched Paul's hand and tried to focus on holding myself together.
She spoke about his belly laughs and his love of uniforms. She even laughed as she detailed how he had dressed as a cowboy or a policeman to pretend and to play grown up. She related his love of sports and of the outdoors. Finally, she finished with the simple words, "Tommy, you will always be my baby boy."
And, I lost it.
I cried for my friends, Kelly and Randy, who had lost their 20 year old son and were now speaking at his funeral. It is a reality that I am sure that they had never prepared for or conceived. And even though both Kelly and Randy were composed and spoke beautifully, I could only imagine the pain that they would feel when they went back to their home without their baby boy, Tommy.
I cried for all the red eyed young adults that sat zombie-like in the church pews. And, even though they weren't kids anymore, when I looked at them, I pictured them as they used to be when they were my students. I could remember this one's braces and crooked smile and that one's penchant for wearing his ball cap backwards. They were adults today, but they were also still babies when it came to life's lessons, and their shocked eyes gave away their very raw grief. They were stunned that one of them, one of their own, was gone.
And despite the fact that I knew it was selfish, I cried at the thought that I could lose my son. My baby boy.
It was just too much to hold inside.
My tears spilled down my cheeks, unchecked. My mascara made rivers that tracked down my face and dripped off my chin. With one hand, I dabbed at them with my ball of wadded up tissues, and with the other hand, I clung to Paul in a vise-like grip.
I am hanging on.
I am hanging on.
If you are of the praying sort, please keep this family in your hearts. They need lots of love and support.