Friday 28 July 2017. 11am.
We didn’t really sleep the night before. Saunders and I chatted in bed in each others arms trying to fully accept that the next day would be our son’s funeral. I got out of bed, had a shower and did my hair and makeup. Put my dress on. Just like any other morning. I felt excited that everyone was going to meet Mason, know of his life. I felt broken because there will be no more Mason on this earth physically. I felt at peace because this is the end for Mason, no more fighting for life. I felt numb and confused, could I really accept that this is it? That Mason isn’t here anymore? That my beautiful baby boy was gone? Taken from his parents for no good reason? We still don’t have answers to why this has happened to us? Mason was healthy and happy, perfect pregnancy, 41 weeks and 5 days baked, 3.9 kilos, 58.3 cms long! So why didn’t Mason come home to us instead of us going to him to meet him at his funeral?? Babies just don’t die like that.
Looking out the window, the sky was dark and grey. It looked like it was going to rain. THE BALLOONS! God I hope the weather holds for the balloons to be released. Stuff it, I’ll release them rain, hail or shine. Saunders wore his best suit, the day before we went shopping for a perfect baby blue pocket square. He looked amazing. A proud and broken dad.
I sat on my bed and clutched to Mason’s blanket I had ordered for him before he was born. Every cool mum had one, the latest craze. I pictured myself walking Mason’s pram around with this very own blanket. Instead I use it as a shawl for comfort and I imagine Mason’s arms wrapped around me. Sometimes I think did I jinx myself getting this for Mason with his name on it before he was born? “Give me strength today bubba” I prayed sitting on my bed.
(Everything had to be perfect, the hair, the makeup, the dress down to the galaxy blue nail polish. Mason had to see mummy at her best and not the crumbling mess she was inside).
We drove to the Church, Saunders holding my hand the whole way. In silence. There were no more words to say anymore. As we pulled up to the church there already was a small crowd forming at the front. We parked the car and walked up to the small crowd which consisted of our family. Mum looked tired, sad, broken. Dad in his best suit looking like he had lost weight. My poor broken family, but when they saw me they smiled. “You look beautiful” Saunders sister said to me. I wasn’t beautiful, it was the dress that I picked for Mason.
And then I saw the hearse.
Leonie from the funeral home told us that for children, as their coffins are so small, a full on hearse wouldn’t look right with a tiny coffin in them. So instead of a hearse they just use smaller, modified cars that you can’t see inside. Leonie greeted us and told us that they had a new car they had received and thought it would be perfect for Mason and hoped it was ok by us. Leonie being a revhead herself told us that its a new Holden SS that would be turned into a hearse later. Saunders face lit up. He looked at me. It was perfect. Little did Leonie know was that Saunders is a HUGE revhead. Saunders loved cars and his favourite being HOLDENS. Saunders had envisioned going to car shows with Mase in the back of his own Holden. Now Mase was still going to get his ride in one. It just crushed me that it wouldn’t be with his dad. It was a sign! The car was perfect. And then the sun came through the clouds! My plan for the perfect day for Mason was coming together!
I wanted to see my boy.
We entered the church and there he was. My heart. I couldn’t tell you how much pain it was seeing the tiny little coffin there. I ran up to Mason and kissed the lid. It was perfect. I told Leonie I wanted the flowers to be simple but with baby blue and white. I noticed the little star placed amongst them. Perfect again. I told Mason that mummy and daddy are here and so is all your family and friends, strangers too! I told Mase that today was all about him and that everyone has come to meet him, to say hello and goodbye. That we all loved him and that after this day he can finally be at peace and we promised we wouldn’t hassle him anymore! I wrapped my arms around that coffin like I was hugging my beautiful baby boy. I didn’t want to let go, but Saunders tugged at me and said it was time.
Saunders and I sat alone at the very front of the church while everyone started filling in the seats behind us. I could feel eyes just looking at us. I didn’t want to turn around and look back. I was that preoccupied by seeing Mason that we forgot to get a service booklet and bookmark. I asked Saunder’s sister if she could run back up and get one. I designed one for Leonie, I wanted a stars theme with blue and Mason’s song lyrics. Saunder’s handed us these…
I made a self note to make sure I bring home as many of the bookmarks and service booklets as I can. Tick. Another task perfectly done for the perfect day.
The entrance song played. It was called “Precious child” by Karen Taylor Good. Leonie had suggested this song as it was a popular song of choice for babies and children. This is it. The perfect day is starting.
The priest at Mason’s funeral was amazing. He was a beautiful man who spoke softly with so much love and compassion. Whenever he spoke he eased my shattered heart and I felt some calm seep through. When he spoke he directly looked at only Saunders and I. not at the crowd. But at the two sad and broken parents in the front row. I thought that was such a nice touch to the service because he was talking to us.
My dad got up as instructed by the priest and sprinkled Mason’s coffin with holy water. Mason’s poppy. My dad was so looking forward to being a poppy. Instead he sprinkles his grandsons coffin with holy water on his journey to heaven.
It was time for Saunders and I to speak about our son. Most people couldn’t believe that we were going to stand up and speak in front of everyone. Saunders isn’t a public speaker where as I will talk the house down. I was in the debating group in high school (total nerd I know) which has come very handy when wanting to get my way and Saunders knows he will never ever win a fight ha! The poor guy. I know this was going to be so hard for him. To get up and speak in front of people is hard enough let alone speaking of your baby boy that you lost. I offered to go first but he said after hearing me speak he wouldn’t be able to.
Saunders got up to the microphone. All you could hear were sniffs, deep breathing, some coughs covering up cries and ruffling of tissues from the crowd. Saunders spoke slow and soft, paused a few times and his voice broken fighting back tears. But he did it. He was amazing. He was beautiful and I have never been so proud of him until that moment.
Now it was my turn.
I took to that microphone bursting with pride. Bursting with pride because I was going to speak about my son. My beautiful baby boy I met for 6 days. Any opportunity to speak about Mason and I will proudly take it.
I looked up to the crowd before me for the very first time.
“Fuck me, do we have enough catering for all these people?!!?” was my first thought that entered my head.
In front of me was not the 80 people we estimated that we thought was a “big crowd”, but the church was full. (From the guestbook signatures there was about 200 and not everyone signed it also!!). Oh Mase. Look at all the bloody love for you my baby. Everyone and anyone is here to meet you. How do you love someone so much and yet no one had even met him? Mason was so loved by everyone. Mason touched people all over the world. I was bursting with pride and slight worry hoping we had enough sandwiches and tea for everyone.
“I am Mason’s Mummy” I addressed the loving crowd.
“I am Mason’s mummy.
To my beautiful baby boy Mason. I never dreamed I would be standing up here saying goodbye. Thank you for giving me the honour of being your mummy. For allowing us to be your parents. I knew in my heart I was having a boy before it was confirmed. I was hoping for a boy because everyone told me that baby boys are mummy’s boys and they love love love their mummy’s. I couldn’t wait for that. To have my own mummy’s boy. Thank you for giving me the easiest pregnancy, despite your cheeky little prank on my 30th birthday.
Before you arrived, everyone had already fallen in love with you. Everyone was waiting on your impending arrival, and you sure took your time at 41 weeks and 5 days. You didn’t end there with a 36 hour labour. But I would go through all that again and again just to meet you because it sure was worth it.
I never knew what true love really felt like until my eyes saw you. You are the most beautiful baby boy. I tried so hard to fault you, searched every inch of your body but I failed. You are too perfect. That perfect little button nose, those chubby cheeks, those fat hands and feet, those soft luscious lips, the first thing I did was kiss every part of your body making sure I did not miss any part of skin.
Everyone who met you or saw you fell in love with you. The first thing they would say was “what a beautiful baby boy” followed by “and what a big baby boy” and I know its because we share the same love of food.
You fought so hard my beautiful baby boy, I know you did this so we could meet you, hug you, hold you, kiss you, wash you, read to you, change your nappy, feed you and do all the things parents should do with their babies. My heart will always be forever thankful for that. We are so lucky and blessed to have had the opportunity as we know some people are ripped from that.
Mason, you brought out the best in people, from all over the world, to people who have never even met or heard about you. Everyone loved you. You are so so loved.
Give mummy strength, especially at night when I think of you the most, wishing you were in bed with me. Wishing I was holding you and kissing you. Please visit me in my dreams.
Mason, I will never forget you. We will never replace you. We will never ever stop loving you. We are forever proud of you. The day your heart stopped so did mine. But we will cherish and celebrate you. Sleep easy my beautiful baby boy. Its not goodbye, its see you soon. And when I do, I will be kissing those luscious lips and bumping your cute little button nose. See you in the stars.
Love always and forever, Mummy. XO”.
I did it. The hardest part was over. I folded my speech with the blue border (in theme with Mason, told you I had every detail covered) and held it close to my chest. Saunders held his hand out for me and walked me to our seats. Crying was loudly heard from the crowd. There wasn’t a dry eye in sight. I looked over at the priest and he had tears in his eyes. If you think that was tough for everyone to hear, then the video that Stace and I created was going to be the end of everyone. Even I cannot watch it as its so painful. Each of the words in the song stabbing my soul. But how perfect is the video. Another tick.
I balled. Saunders balled. The crowd balled. That video pulled at the heart strings. It was necessary for that video to be played. It was Mason’s life from the very start to the end. I needed people to meet Mason. To see he was real and that he existed. That I had a beautiful baby boy.
A few final prayers and blessings were made and then it was the end of Mason’s service. Mason’s song started playing. Saunders and I both got up and carried our son’s small coffin in each of our broken and empty arms. That was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. Carry my son out of the church and into the hearse that would take him away forever.
(The song Mason chose for himself that day at the petrol station)
We walked to the hearse and placed Mason in the back. There he was, the very last time I would see him and be near to him. I kissed the lid of his coffin and told him that mummy loved him so much and that I would see him soon. My beautiful baby boy. What a journey you have had. From the moment I first laid my eyes on you in NICU, I didn’t think I could love you any more than I had, knowing that I was to be a mother 10 months ago. You inside me, together, what a beautiful journey. One I will treasure for the rest of my life. Mason you are the best thing that happened to mummy and daddy in our whole lives. No one could ever compare to you. Though your life was robbed and short lived, I will fight for you, for answers to why we are separated. I will live for you.
(My last kiss for my beautiful baby boy on the lid)
As the large crowd gathered behind us, Saunders and I held each other, staring directly at our beautiful baby boy, trying to take in everything we could as we would never see him again. Leonie started passing out the balloons I had ordered to close family and friends.
I received two balloons and started to kiss them all over in hopes that mummy’s love and kisses would reach Mason amongst the stars.
How amazing was that all the balloons followed each other, on the same path towards Mason. I didn’t stop looking at the balloons until they were no longer visible. I started to cry as the car drove off taking my son. I could hear my mother wailing loudly behind me.
We were directed by Leonie to follow her to the function room for the wake. The room was large (thank god). I quickly went to the toilets to make sure my face wasn’t a mess from the tears as I would be greeting everyone who attended Mason’s service.
I entered the middle of the room facing towards the door and people started flocking in. One by one, I received a loving hug, a kiss on the cheek and some heavy heartfelt words of condolences. Some people didn’t know what to say and said nothing at all but I could read what their eyes were saying. I made sure I had a smile on my face. I found myself consoling others. I sat with people who could not stop crying. I met new people, I saw old friends. I felt love. I hope Mason felt all the love he received. I don’t know anyone else on earth that was loved so much.
I had a good time catching up with family and friends, work colleagues and strangers. My beautiful baby boy touched so many people in his short time. To say I was proud is an understatement. How lucky am I? I got to be the mother to this amazing soul. I am so fucking lucky. Thank you Mason for giving me the honour of being your mummy and for you making me one. The one and only thing I wanted to be in this life. A mum.
We raised over $3200 for The Miracle Babies Foundation. I was so impressed and appreciative that everyone donated. Miracle Babies used some of the proceeds to create Memory Boxes for families who’s babies in NICU didn’t survive in honour of Mason. Pink boxes for baby girls, blue for baby boys. We had received a box from NICU on Mason’s last day on earth.
The priest at Mason’s service saw me after and told me how touched he was with my speech and would like a copy for himself. I gladly provided a copy to him the following Sunday after Mass. Leonie also told me that the coffin Mason was in had no name and that it was going to be officially called “Beautiful Baby Boy”. The pink version to be called “Beautiful Baby Girl”.
A big thanks to Father Dispin and Monika from St John’s Parish and to Leonie for helping create the most perfect day for the most beautiful baby boy that graced this earth.
What are we going to do without you Mason. After the service there is nothing more I can do for him. The act of being a mother and doing motherly things for Mason ends. There is no more visits, no more feeds, no more hugs, no more kisses, no more eating your little toes, pinching those chubby cheeks, no more baths, no more nappy changes, no more whispering into your ear how much I love you so. How proud I am of you. How sorry I couldn’t save you, couldn’t let you live the life you were supposed to have. How broken I will be for the rest of my life knowing you were distressed inside me and I couldn’t do anything about it. I still don’t have answers to what happened and why you were taken from me. All I knew is I had a healthy and happy baby boy up until delivery point. But I will get to the bottom of it, for you.
How am I to live in this world without my beautiful baby boy?
Mason, don’t worry, mummy is going to bring you home soon. Where you belong.