The week after Mason headed for the stars was such a blur. Time didn’t stop. We didn’t have time to shower. We didn’t have time to eat. We didn’t have time to grieve. We were running on adrenaline. We had to organise the perfect funeral for our beautiful baby boy. You only get one chance to get this right, to make it perfect. I never in a million years thought that I would be organising a funeral for my baby. My children should be organising my funeral. Either way I felt like I wasn’t alive too.
I always wanted Mason to go to the primary school and church I attended growing up with my family. I wanted Mason to be baptised in the church I had been baptised in, where I received my reconciliation, communion and graduation. I wanted him to go the primary school I had attended. But as you know Mason didn’t get the chance to see where I grew up and had my happy childhood. Mason did get baptised on his last day on earth at the hospital, so I am very grateful that could be arranged with our family present. I knew that would mean a lot to my parents as they are faithful Catholics.
So the funeral would be at my church I grew up in. I had contacted the church and they gave us a recommendation for a funeral home that they loved and used. A family run business. I made the call and arranged a meeting with them. We met with Leonie from the funeral home. Leonie was amazing. I will never forget the effort, love and support she gave Saunders and I in organising the most special day for our little boy. Saunders and I brought our parents along to the meeting for support. I mean, we have never planned a funeral before! We didn’t know what to do. But hey, if anyone wants the perfect funeral planned come see me!
We were taken into a meeting room to first meet with Leonie. The room was warm, surrounded with cabinets filled with funeral memorabilia. It was a weird feeling in the room. No one spoke. There was a few sniffles. I didn’t look at anyone but the table in front of me. I couldn’t believe we were doing this. Leonie came in. She was warm and had sad eyes. I liked her straight away. She was one of those people you just click with and she hadn’t said a word yet. A few forms and details needed to be filled out. For Mason’s death certificate. That was so surreal. I never thought I would have to fill out a death certificate form. But at least we got that out of the way quickly. Every time she spoke she always focused on me which I loved. Like I was the most important person in the room. That everything had to get the final approval off me. The mother that lost her baby.
Leonie asked what type of funeral service we would like. A short one or a long one. If we wanted it to be a mass or just have some bits from one. We decided that we didn’t want a full on mass (didn’t want to bore everyone to death…Excuse the sick pun!) for our beautiful baby boy but to have some parts of the service with the important aspects of a funeral mass within the Catholic Church. I wanted the blessings and prayers incorporated in the service and the service to be conducted by the Parish Priest. We didn’t want the service too long, but wanted enough time for everyone to meet Mason and to see what his life was like 6 days on earth. We had a feeling that we would be getting a lot of support at the service, that there would be a big crowd attending as it always is the case for the loss of a baby or young child. Maybe 80 people or so? God how do you know? We acknowledged everyone wouldn’t all be Catholic so we wanted to accommodate for everyone.
All I knew is that I wanted Mason’s service to be a happy one. For everyone and anyone to meet my boy and say goodbye. I wanted everyone to know I was his mother. That Saunders was his father. That Mason was our son. I wanted everyone to see how much we love Mason. How proud we are of him. I wanted to show him off like I would have if I had the chance to take him home. I wanted everyone to see my heart bursting with pride. I wanted love in the room. I wanted it perfect. There was no room for error. It needed to be the perfect day for the most perfect boy.
Leonie then asked what we would like to do with Mason, for him to be buried or cremated. I had held it together very well up until this question was asked. I cried so hard and screamed “MASON WILL BE COMING HOME, WHERE HE BELONGS. I WANT MASON HOME. I WANT MY BABY HOME WITH ME”. Everyone in the room cried hearing me say this with such pain. I want my Mason to be brought back home where he belong. Where his room is. Where he should be. Where I can see him, talk to him. So it was decided Mason will be cremated. I hadn’t even discussed this with Saunders, but I had made that decision in my heart leaving the hospital on his last day. I wanted my beautiful baby boy home. That’s all I wanted from the very start.
As that was decided, Leonie then said they had some examples in the back of coffins for babies. It made me sick hearing the word coffin. I felt numb up until that point. That word just pierced me, making some sort of slither of reality hit me hard and remind me that yes Mason isn’t here anymore and yes you are organising his funeral. That word confirmed everything. Leonie asked us if it was ok to bring some into the room to see which ones we wanted. Leonie had a brand new set come in that she thought we might like. I told her I didn’t want anything cold, cheap, harsh or plain. So she left the room and came back with a beautiful blue coffin made of baby blue material with teddy bears all over it. I told you this woman was amazing. She too was a mother. This was perfect.
I told Leonie that Saunders and I are to carry Mason out when the service was over and to place Mason in the hearse. I wanted Mason to be carried out by his mum and dad. I wanted Mason to know mummy was there til the very end.
I also told Leonie that I wanted to speak at the funeral. I remember everyone shocked to hear that. I looked at Saunders face and he too was shocked. No one expected Saunders and I to speak at the service. No one thought we would be able to handle it, to get the priest to speak on behalf of us. But Mason is my son, I am not letting anyone speak about my son, let alone someone who hasn’t even met him or known him. I am his mother and I will be speaking at my baby’s funeral no matter how hard it will be, how long I will take, how choked up I will get. If Saunders can’t do it that’s fine. But I will speak. That is MY job.
Then Leonie asked a question that we never thought was coming. A question that we didn’t think was an option. A question we never thought was possible.
“Do you want to see Mason again if possible? Do you want a viewing?”.
Another chance? Another chance to see Mason? My heart or what was left of it felt heavy and confused. We honestly thought the last time we would ever see Mason was at the hospital. I thought that was it. We said our goodbyes to him on his last day. That there were no more chances to see our beautiful baby boy. I didn’t know how to feel about it and I think Leonie could see in our sad surprised faces that we didn’t know that question was coming or even had an answer. I told her that Mason had been taken straight away to the Coroner and that I wasn’t sure what they were going to do with our son and he might look different. I wasn’t sure what condition Mason would be in. I told her I wasn’t sure because I had beautiful memories of Mason in my arms warm and cuddly. Of Mason’s beautiful face tanned and alive.
Saunders sister unfortunately was holidaying in Europe, stuck in transit and tried to come back urgently to meet Mason but didn’t make it on time. I know she desperately wanted to meet her beautiful nephew and was heartbroken. Maybe this is her chance? I started to panic with confusion. I didn’t know what to say. “As a mother, I will make that call if I think its ok to see Mason or not. I will let you know once he has arrived back in my care. Leave it with me to make that decision.” Leonie said fighting tears back. Thank you Leonie. Thank you thank you thank you.
We left the meeting content. I was happy with how it went. How our requests were met. How lovely Leonie is, how she listened, how she is a mother, how she cried for us and how she will handle Mason with love and care. Leonie however did give us some homework to do. Saunders and I needed 2 songs for the service (one for a slide show of Mason’s life that I wanted to make and a song to end the service), to choose photos for the service bookmark and program book for guests, to draft up Mason’s funeral notice and service speech and to give to her Mason’s funeral outfit.
We had one week to get all these tasks done. The next day we went to Seed Baby. My favourite clothing shop. I would always go to Seed while I was pregnant and look at all the cute little outfits that one day I would dress Mason in. I didn’t want Mason’s funeral outfit to just be a jumpsuit. I wanted Mason to go to the stars in style. I wanted Mason to be warm as we were in winter. Do you know how fucked up it is to go shopping to get your baby’s funeral outfit. WHO DOES THAT?!? Saunders couldn’t even walk into the store. He felt sick. But I marched into that store on a mission. To dress my baby. Like a mother does. But not an outfit to go out in, on a play date, not an outfit to attend a party or for Christmas. His funeral.
Saunders followed behind me. Not saying a word. Head down. This was the only time I could go shopping and buy clothes for my boy. I looked through all the cute little outfits. my heart broken knowing that I wouldn’t be able to buy anymore clothes for my boy. It was so hard to choose that one outfit. I mean did you see my son? How gorgeous is he? A paper bag would have looked good on him! Such a cutie patootie. I found the perfect little outfit. A cream woollen jumper with a teddy bear on it and some navy blue leggings with stars.
The lady at the counter said “Oh what a cute little outfit!”. I smiled. Not saying a word but thinking “if only you knew what these little clothes were for”. Saunders wanted to vomit.
That night we drafted up the funeral notices for the paper. How do you only limit a few words to say to your baby in tribute? As you know I could write a million things of my beautiful baby boy who didn’t move, open his eyes, cry and who only lived earth side for 6 days. I felt I knew him completely. What he would be like. But I guess I would save all that for my speech at the service. I also knew we didn’t want people to give us gifts or flowers at the funeral. So instead we thought it would be nice if everyone could donate money to the Miracle Babies Foundation as Mason was in NICU and they help support premature babies. Babies that are in NICU, for the babies that live and the babies that don’t make it.
I also wanted to release balloons off into the sky after the service. Leonie had suggested a great party supplies shop down the road. Saunders and I went to the shop and had a look around. I knew what I wanted. Blue balloons with stars. This shop had everything. A million different varieties of balloons. But nothing with blue or stars. I was so disappointed. We kept looking and looking and we were about to give up and leave when Saunders saw a little plastic jar containing “baby balloons”. We opened the jar and there inside was the perfect balloons. We ordered 30 for close family and friends.
We still needed to pick out two songs and to do our speeches. These tasks we were giving were sooooo tough and I knew Saunders and I were putting them off. So in the meantime I wanted to make a slide show for the service. For everyone to meet Mason who didn’t get a chance to. To see how cute he is, that button nose, those luscious lips. I called one of my best friends Stacie over to give me a hand as she had a great computer program that we could use. We needed to pick roughly around 30 photos, I had 600 photos even more. We spent hours going through which photos to use. It was so so hard. Every photo is my favourite. I wanted everyone to see all my photos. How can you choose? Mason was perfect in every photo. But we finally got there, all 80 photos and mini clips. Thank you Stacie so much for helping me create a video for Saunders and I to cherish forever. My mum had also found the perfect song to go with the slideshow.
WARNING THIS SLIDE SHOW WILL REDUCE YOU TO TEARS AND BREAK YOUR HEART.
During this week leading up to the funeral, Saunders and I would walk a lap around my favourite park that had a stunning lake. I used to walk and do laps when I was with Mason. It was beautiful. Saunders and I would go visit the lake to have a break from funeral prep and to get some fresh air. To hold hands, to talk, to somehow feel a little alive from the tragedy that we were faced with.
One particular day during that week after leaving a visit at the lake, Saunders stopped to get petrol on the way home. As Saunders went inside to pay for the petrol I was left in the car and thought it was the perfect opportunity to quickly google a song for Mason’s service. The song that was his song. The song to be played whilst Saunders and I carried our beautiful baby boy out. It had to be perfect. It had to be a song that we thought of Mason every time it played for years to come. I had been trying to think of a song that whole week without Saunders knowing as I didn’t want to make things harder for him as he was suffering enough losing his boy. I wanted to take care of this job for him. I actually wanted to take care of the whole service preparation for him. But I was struggling to find THE song for Mase. It was such a hard task and I didn’t want to just settle for any song. I could see Saunders heading back to the car so I quickly put my phone back in my bag. As he came into the car I turned on the radio and a song came on. It was THE song. I looked at Saunders and he looked at me and we both cried our heart outs. It was like Mason was talking to us. Telling us “Mum and Dad, I’ve got this”, like Mason took care of this job so Saunders and I didn’t suffer. It was perfect. It was also a song Saunders and I loved. We both loved RNB. I looked at the time and it was 11:11AM. Well how about that. Mase you cheeky bugger. We cried in the car all the way home. The lyrics of the song were so accurate to how we were feeling. The words were so powerful. The song that played was “I’ll be missing you” by Puff Daddy. Thank you my little bubba man.
So now that we had Mason’s song there was only one thing left to do.
Write my last words to my beautiful baby boy.