When he came, it was a horrible feeling, but he was a kind man and made the process simple. We knew we didn't want a formal funeral, and it wasn't going to be celebrating a life, as funerals these days tend to be. Harry had not had a life, and I could find no positive in it all.
The wonderful reverend at the church tried to find a relevant scripture reading for the service or even some hymns, but nothing seemed appropriate. I didn't want to give thanks, or praise the Lord. I wanted to tell the Lord to f*** off. Not a golden bell as my Nan would say but that is how I felt. My Nan even dug deep to find something, but nothing worked. She wrote a beautiful poem, and I wanted to read a poem that a friend had sent to me on hearing our news.
Finding the songs to use was a horrid experience. My mum and I sat at the computer trawling through lists, and crying while hearing the words. I will never forget when Mum suggested a song called "Fly" by Celine Dion, and her and my Nan and I sat around Mum's kitchen table sobbing our hearts out, while thinking of little Harry's soul flying "to the light". I have since tried listening to that song, as it is beautiful, but I find the imagery too difficult to bear.
The funeral director had contacted us to say that he had Harry from the hospital, and did we have an outfit to dress him in.
We had gone into Mothercare to buy an outfit, and I knew in my head what I had wanted to him to wear. I picked out a white babygro, a white cardigan and little blue bear slippers, and a beautiful white shawl to wrap him in. I had confirmed with myself that I was happy with my selections and took them to the counter to pay. I could barely make eye contact with anyone, and it wasn't until the lady at the counter said "oh, is it a little boy?" She wasn't to know, but I wasn't prepared for any kind of interaction. I looked at her and whispered "yes" but burst into sobs of tears and my husband quickly apologised. The lady was horrified, and my husband tried to explain but she very kindly came out from behind the counter and gave me a lovely cuddle and said she was truly sorry. How many more times would I have to explain to people what had happened? Many more. But this was the first time, and it was as hard as I had thought.
We took the outfit to the funeral directors, and I asked the director if I could dress him myself. I think he was surprised, but he understood when I explained that I wanted to do one "mummy" thing for our little boy. It was as hard to do as you can imagine it was, logistically, but the director was very helpful and said some words to us that helped enormously. He told us that he was a spiritualist and that he believed that this was just Harry's physical body but his soul had gone, but he was with us - always.
We had wanted to see Harry in the Chapel of Rest, but so did our mothers, and my Nan and my Auntie, so the director agreed to bring Harry to my Mum's house so it didn't feel so clinical. They kindly had him in a Moses' basket so it wasn't horrible seeing him in a coffin or anything. It was just how I had pictured my baby asleep in his Moses' basket, and I wished so hard that he was asleep, and that he would just wake up. But he didn't.
I also asked the Director if I could be the one that put him in his coffin the day before the funeral service. The idea of someone else being the last one to touch him made me feel physically sick. I am his mother and it is my job, I kept telling myself. My husband and the Director helped me lift Harry into his tiny white coffin, and we kissed him and said goodbye. He was tucked in with his beautiful shawl, his teddy rabbit, along with a few personal items from my husband and I and a photograph of me, my husband and William. The thing I wasn't ready for was putting the lid on the coffin. It was had Harry's name on a gold plaque and gold screws to fasten the lid down. I hadn't thought about that. I will never forget screwing those screws in, thinking about what I was doing... securing our baby in a tiny white box. It felt so odd but I didn't want anyone else doing it. We are his parents and this is our job.
The day of the funeral came, and we dressed carefully, and waited the arrival of the car carrying our little boy to the church. We sat in the back, holding hands tightly, taking our little boy on the only journey we would share.
My husband had wanted to carry Harry's coffin into the church, just as I had wanted to dress him, and move him to his final resting place. He felt he didn't want for anyone else to carry him, and he did it. He carried him in, and I walked alongside him. I couldn't tell you who was at that service, I wouldn't know. I looked straight ahead on the way in, and straight ahead on the way out, not taking in any faces around me, but I knew there was a lot of bodies.
The church service went exactly as we planned and we were soon on our way to the burial ground. Watching Harry's tiny coffin being lowered into the tiny hole that had been dug, was more than I could bear. When I threw the white rose into the ground on top of his little white box, I felt like throwing myself in after him. Obviously I didn't, but my husband held me while I sobbed. And that was our final goodbye.
Songs used in the funeral: