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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Visitation

We attended a visitation last night.

This wasn't the "usual" kind where someone was old or sick had passed.

This was for an 18 year old, senior in high school,  that was murdered last weekend.

He was the son of A-man's baseball coach and the big brother of his teammate.

We were in shock when news came out.  Heartbroken for their family.  Rainman and I kept saying things like, "I can't imagine...."

And, we really can't.

I was actually holding it together pretty well, until  I saw the slide show with pictures of his life. Santa pictures.  Pictures where he and his dad had fallen asleep in the hammock.  Pictures of him blowing out birthday candles.  Pictures of him up at bat.  Pictures of him gently touching his new baby brother.  I honestly had to stop watching.  I couldn't take it anymore.

We stood in line for 2 hours because there were so many people there to see his family.

One of our pauses in line, we ended up next to his grandparents, who we had seen casually at baseball games, but never had a real conversation with.

The grandmother slowly looked each of us in the eye, then looked again.  She said, "I just want to remember your faces.  I want to remember who came here for him.  It means so much to us."

The grandfather told us that he looked pretty good.  That they had done a good job getting him ready.  He did have some bruises, he warned us, from both the fight the night he was killed and from his new found passion for MMA grappling/wrestling.

Once again, I had to bite the inside of my mouth to stop myself from crying.  Normally, I am a big eye contact person.  I like people to know that I am listening to them and paying attention.  But, I just couldn't look at him.

Then, A-man's teammate spotted him in the receiving line and weaved his way through the pews and people to come over and say hi.

Let me tell you, two 11 year old boys spontaneously hugging each other when it isn't because of joy of a game won, is heart wrenching.

They hugged. They put their heads on each others shoulders.  They stepped apart and did sort of a manly shoulder pat before standing their awkwardly for a bit, because.....what do you say?

We finally made it to the front of the line and A-man's coach was standing at the foot of the casket and the mother was sitting at the head of the casket.

Visitation had started at 5:00.  We got there at 7:00 and finally made it at almost 9:00.  We asked  A-man to go first in line, because we weren't sure that the coach and his wife would recognize us in the throng of people, but we knew they would recognize A-man.

The coach took one look at A-man, held out both arms and pulled him in for a huge hug.  A-man quickly turned his head away and hugged him back.  He later told me he had to turn his head away so he wouldn't cry when he was looking at his coach.

They hugged.  Coach whispered something in his ear.  Then let go, held him by the shoulders and looked him in the eye again and told him how happy he was that he had come for "his boy".

Rainman and I took turns hugging too.  As he pulled me in, the coach asked me "How are you holding up?"  I said, "I am barely keeping it together, so I cannot imagine what you are going through."

Coach let go and turned to our whole family and talked about how when they had first arrived at the funeral home today.  He couldn't stop crying.  He talked about his chest actually literally being in so much pain he didn't think he could do this.  Then the people started coming......and coming.....and coming.   He said, he realized that all those people were coming for "his boy" and it made him proud to have been his dad.

Rainman and I told him that he should be.  He was a good kid.  Yes, he had gotten into some trouble and made some stupid choices.  What teenager hasn't?  We talked about how funny his son was, how nice he was to the little siblings of the boys on the baseball team.  I mentioned that he was a little bit of a smart alec.  The coach said, "A little bit?!?!"  We chuckled.  Coach said that  he couldn't believe that this happened to his family, and that now their job had to be keeping the people that did this in jail and make sure they stayed there.

It is hard to know how to end one of those kinds of conversations, but, there was still a ton of people behind us, so, Rainman gave him one more hug and we moved on past the casket to his mom.

Back in Minnesota, I used to sing at a lot of funerals and I learned early on, whether I knew the deceased or not, even if they were a close friend of the family, that I couldn't look in the casket because then I would cry and not be able to sing.  It became real then.  The person in the casket was somebody's.....something.  It was real.

So, once again this night, I just glanced in the casket.  His grandpa was right.  He looked pretty good.  He had on his ever present baseball hat.  He looked.....young.

A-man once again was the first in line to the mom.  She too, looked him straight in the eye and pulled him in for a huge hug.

When it was my turn, I lost it.  I couldn't be calm, cool and collected anymore.  This was this woman's baby.  We both just held onto each other and cried.  I just told her that I had no words, just love.  Because, again.....what can you say?  Nothing.

She squeezed me tight.  Kissed my cheek and thanked us for coming.  She too, looked us all in the eye before letting us move on.  I think she was trying to stamp in her brain the faces of all the people that came for her baby boy.

I left and was weepy on and off the rest of the night.  I just kept picturing the little bronzed baby shoes and the pictures of him opening presents on Christmas morning.  I looked around at my babies....and just  This shouldn't happen.

We are all heading over to D-man's campus later today.  I want to give him a hug.  I want to eat a meal with him.  I want him to be a smart alec and annoy me.  I want to see him give A-man a choke-hold and then a proper hug when we leave.  I want to see him walking along the street holding V-girl's hand.  I just want all my babies together and to hug them.