Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Firefighters Last Call

This weekend was by far one of the hardest weekends I have had in a very long time.  In fact the past 6 days have been so full of tears that I wasn't sure I had any tears left to shed.  Saturday morning, my mom, my sister and bro-in-law, my aunt and uncle, and myself headed down south to a little mining town called Alton to attend the funeral of my dear sweet cousin Lucy.  The nights leading up to Saturday I was having nightmares that I didn't go to the funeral and my whole family ended up getting a car accident and I was left alone.  So I was quite scared to stay home, but also quite scared to leave.  I am glad I made the decision to go to the funeral, it was the closure that I needed.  The car ride down took us about 4 or so hours, and those 4 hours zoomed by, which I am indeed grateful for.  The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky.  As we neared Alton, I was astonished by the beauty that surrounded us.  I don't think I have ever fallen in love with a sight as quickly as I did on this drive.   

We pulled into the tiny town of Alton and we immediately knew why my cousin loved living there, and why she wanted all of us to come visit.  It is a town right out of a wild west movie.  The houses are over a hundred years old, animals roaming around freely, and just a feeling of peace envelopes you as you drive through town.
We pulled into the church parking lot and my emotions started to get the best of me,
they had the firetrucks and ambulance ready in front of the building.

It was finally time for me to go and do the thing I was dreading the most,
it was time to go inside for the viewing.
I am not the biggest fan of viewings, while it may give you a chance to say a final goodbye, I can never seem to get that final image out of my head, and I would rather not remember them that way.
Before going in I ran into my #1 favorite cousin, Cass Bass, and she asked if I had been in yet.  I told her no, and she said, "just put on your brave face.  She looks a lot better than she did."  I followed close behind my mom the entire time, before we entered the room we signed a piece of cloth that was made by my cousins daughter that would be put in the casket with her.
I am surprised at how well I handled going in, but looking back, I realize I didn't get a chance to really see her and for that I think I am grateful.  We walked in, saw her husband Brian and his family, then the casket.  It is truly amazing how beautiful she looked.  She suffered a lot of trauma in the car accident, yet you couldn't see it terribly bad.  I can say that she didn't look like my cousin to me.  My mom gave my uncle, her brother a hug, and my aunt quickly grabbed me and engulfed me in the biggest hug I have ever received from her.  Maybe she could sense that I didn't really want to have to stand by the casket, or maybe she just needed the hug, either way I am grateful for that.  While I was giving her a hug my uncle grabbed my hand and squeezed it as hard as he could.  I have never felt closer to my relatives as I did at that point.
After waiting for probably an hour for the viewing to finish we had the family prayer.  I allowed myself to lose it completely at this point.  The peace that resided in that room the entire time is more amazing than words can describe.  After the prayer was said Lucy's husband and children were allowed to say their final goodbyes, and relatives could put things in the casket with her.  Watching those kids say goodbye to their mother was heart-wrenching.  Seeing her husband say goodbye also did it to me. 
The chapel was filled to the brim with family and friends.  The talks were perfect and beautiful.  There was laughter amongst the tears, and peace amongst the sorrow. 
Lucy was a volunteer EMT/Firefighter in the town of Alton, she was responding to an emergency when she was taken from this earth life.  She was able to receive a firefighters funeral.  Her casket was lifted onto the firetruck and the pal-bearers (brother and brother-in-laws) as well as her children, and some nieces and nephews were allowed to ride with her to the cemetery.  We all followed the firetrucks and ambulance up the dirt road to the cemetery that was tucked away in it's own corner of the world.  As we were driving up we saw four horses running free in the field below the cemetery, they were running up towards the cemetery and I thought for sure they were going to go into the cemetery, but they just ran around it.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.  
Lucy's casket was lifted off the truck, and placed in the gravesite.  I stood, holding my cousin Cassi's recently new born baby girl as the grave was dedicated.  I looked out over the cemetery and over the valley and I knew everything was going to be alright. 

I thought I had my emotions under control...
then, I lost it.  All thanks to the firefighters last call.
They had all of the EMT's and firefighters that were at the internment turn on their radios and they proceeded with the call.
I don't remember the exact wording that was used, and wish I could...
you heard the pagers go off, and then something along the lines of 
"This is the final call for Lucy Heaton"... and then complete silence.
I bawled hysterically at the silence, 
as heartbreaking as it was, it was also very very peaceful.
They did that two or three times, and on the final time they thanked Lucy for her service in the community.
Before the casket was lowered into the ground her children and husband, and other family members were able to write a note to her on her casket. 
Everything about the funeral was heartwarming and peaceful.

My dear cousin;
you will be greatly missed.
You have taught us all a great lesson;
a lesson of serving others always,
loving everyone and everything that crosses your path.
Thank you for your example,
and the many times you would babysit me.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to have you present in my life
growing up. I may not remember it well, but I know I was blessed immensely.
I love you so much!!

To end... a poem that was read by her brother at the funeral

"She is Gone"
You can shed tears that she is gone 
Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want; smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins

1 comment:

  1. That poem is beautiful. And true in every whit. Love you, girl! Please text me if you need me to come be your crying shoulder. That's how we can meet....hah!