5 months ago today, at 10:20 am, our lives changed forever. My precious husband and i became part of a family that no parent wants to be a member of, a family that you dont choose, a family whose members intimately know what it means to lose a child. membership into that family changed who we are, how we look at the world and it changed the very fiber of our being, forever. it has taught us about pain, about heart ache so deep and raw that it shakes you to your core, but it has also taught us about empathy, compassion, grace and just how much one can love. five months have passed, we still hurt and long to have our precious cooper with us. the loss of a child is not something you get over, you mend, but your heart never heals. but i know this, if i had to choose between never knowing cooper or how much i could love or knowing him, loving him and losing him, i would choose the latter. and that gives me hope, hope that i am mending and hope that we will feel that love again.
and is with that in mind that i want to share with you dear readers the words that were spoken at cooper's service on saturday. my uncle, who is both a cardiologist and an episcopal minister, performed the service. this is only the first 2 pages, if you want to read it in its entirety, you may find it here.
We are gathered here, in the springtime of creation’s new growth, to celebrate and give thanks for the brief time we shared with Cooper Austin Snyder Gerenski. Sometimes a memorial service will be called “In Memoriam”, and I will spend some time in a bit talking about this strange and wonderful thing we call memory. We all know and honor the fact that his loss has wounded and hurt those who loved him…his immediate family as well as those of us who loved him from afar, yet who never got a chance to hold him. We are here to give voice to the reality of that loss, but to also find words and meanings that can give us hope and courage and, quite frankly, the strength and faith to keep on living each day while holding his memory in our hearts. We need several things today, but more than anything we need the living presence of this gathered community to remind us all to awaken each day with grateful hearts for the gift of Cooper to our lives. In times like this, we need each other more than ever. You are all visible reminders of embodied love—all of us that I look around and see, you are that—and that is all I need to know beyond a doubt that Cooper’s life and legacy will find the meaning we all want it to have.
There is a geography of our lives that speaks to us of our stories, a geography that carries and proclaims the narrative truths of our lives. These geographies are the bearers of everything we believe in and hold to our hearts. Like the landscape of the earth, each of our personal geographies is hugely different. We all have mountains and rivers, deserts and streams, canyons and wildlands, and peaceful pastures where we find rest for our weary and scarred souls. And we also have places of loss and danger, places that wound us and leave a gaping scar in the landscape of our soul. And this is surely one of those times, one of those times where our geographies and our stories are tested to their limits. Yet I am here to remind us that those particular dark places of our landscapes do not tell the whole story of Coopers life. So let me say one thing I believe without a doubt-- whenever there is great pain there is even greater love that abounds and breaks in. It is indeed a balm in Gilead that “heals the wounded soul”. There are places and people and events that will break into our wounds, and like grace they often come unexpectedly and sometimes undeservedly. They come when we least expect them …often in the still quiet moments of our lives. I suspect that is what will happen to Lucinda and Jamey…healing will come in baby steps, in stops and starts, but it will come. It will be highlighted by the moments of grace and love from others that will remind them of the gift of Cooper, and all that he has meant to others.