Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holland's Funeral

I was not sure I would ever be ready to write about Holland's funeral. Not because it makes me sad, but because I have not been sure I could capture what a glorious day it was. I don't use the word sad, depressing, joyful, happy, or anything of the like to describe it because none of those words work. My friend, Carly, used the word peaceful and I like that. But I can truly say that never have I felt closer to heaven than on this day. I think in general, when we have extremely spiritual experiences, we are also emotional, and so yes, I cried a lot. A lot. Our mortal bodies seem to not be able to handle the power that comes with feeling so close to God. And I know, that it wiped me out :) But yet, I wish it could be my every day. Because I have never felt more power in my entire life. Above all, I know Holland was there and I also know that she approved of the day :)

So while I won't be able to truly describe it, I would like to share just pieces of it.

We started out in the morning with a viewing. Our family and close friends were able to come and see little Holland, some for the first time. She looked like a chubby little China doll in her beautiful white blessing dress (it was the dress Briz wore at her blessing). Grandma Julie added a beautiful little embroidered pillow cover with the Portland Temple on it, as well as the words, "Families are Forever." And Nick bought matching necklaces for Briz and Holland. He put the necklace with the B on it around Holly's neck (Briz gets to wear her H necklace on special occassions). And although she didn't look exactly like my baby, she did look beautiful, and I felt like a proud mom. At the end of the viewing, we had just Nick and I's immediate families stay. I held her one last time, and then Briawna, McKenna, and Jacci all took turns holding her, since they were never able to while she was alive. Those were some of the sweetest moments of my life. I had a mix of emotions: sadness for them not being able to meet my little girl, but also joy in knowing that they might be able to hold her and see her one day.

The funeral was wonderful. Nick and I felt so loved and supported. And it somehow felt comforting picking out faces of people in the congregation. Seeing their faces made me know that I was not alone. I have felt alone at times in this process, but I felt anything but that on that Friday. The program went as follows:

Opening Hymn: Be Still my Soul
Invocation: Stacy Ainge (Nona)

Special Musical Number: Pachabel's Cannon by Anne Christianson (and accompanied by a pianist as well)

Talk: David Ainge (Papa)

Video of Holland Talk: Tom Cottle (Grandpa Great)

Special Musical Number: "My Shepherd Will Supply my Need" by Andrea Croskey, Leslie Jensen, and Bart Carter (good friends from Salem)

Talk: Nick Cottle
Closing Song: I Feel my Savior's Love
Closing Prayer: Julie Cottle (Grandma Julie)

While I wish I could share every word said, you would probably stop reading, cause that would just be way too long. Maybe in the future, I will share more details. I'm sure I will need to for myself, if for no other reason. My Dad spoke mostly for me. I wrote some things about Holland, about her personality, my experiences with her, and the wonderful spirit that she is. He then shared a very sweet poem he had written and some thoughts. Grandpa Cottle spoke of the plan of salvation, and as always, was sweet and powerful in talking about our Savior's atonement and living with our Heavenly Father again as families. And Nick told his little Holly Hoo her very last time bedtime story. The music was beautiful. There were many tears shed, but overall there was a wonderful spirit there. Nick and I felt like not only were we able to share our Holland with others, but also a big part of us: our family, our beliefs, and our feelings. There is something refreshing about a funeral because of the vulnerability and love that exists there. At the end I was able to see and hug many of the people that came. I wish I had the energy to truly thank every person that came.

After the funeral, close family and friends proceeded to the Riverview Cemetery. I need to go take pictures in the next few days because it is so beautiful. It is a very old cemetery with huge beautiful trees that are bright fall colors right now When I go there, it feels sacred. As ironic as it sounds, as my friend put it, there really is so much life at a cemetery. Nick said a few words and dedicated the grave. I thought that part would be harder for me than it actually is. I thought it would feel more final. But in fact, it didn't. In my mind, I just kept thinking to myself, "I said good-bye to my baby a long time ago." (well, it really wasn't a long time, just a few days before, but it felt like a long time at that point). Anytime I say good-bye to anything that reminds me of Holland or is a part of her, it is sad. So saying good-bye to her beautiful baby form was sad, very sad. I sobbed as they let down her casket. Because every time I repeat good-bye to her, it reminds me of my loss and it hurts. But, as I sobbed, I also felt hope, because I knew in my heart, that she is not this little baby anymore. She is in heaven and is a spirit and is happy. After the funeral, we had a beautiful luncheon. I did not have much energy to socialize, so I spent most of the time trying to eat some food, and watching a compilation of home videos of Holland that our friend Michael put together. When it was all over, I felt a little tiny weight lifted off of me. First of all, because a funeral is a lot of freakin' work! It's like planning a small wedding in a few days amidst a terrible amount of grief and pain. But also, because I felt like it was a bit of closure. Every time I say good-bye to Holland in different ways, I gain a little bit more closure, and that was a big step. And the rest of the night, I was able to spend time with family and friends that had come to support me. I was able to smile and laugh, and some of it may have been delusional because I was so tired, but either way, it felt good. This little girl has changed my life already in ways that I cannot describe. What a powerful woman she is. I feel so undeserving to have her as my daughter for eternity. I hope that on this very special day to me, she was able to touch others too.

I wanted to share this picture of my "ugly cry" because this is what I looked like a lot of the day. I have talked a lot about what a powerful day it was, but I also experienced a great deal of pain and sadness and hence, looked like this :) This is me looking down on my baby.

Nick and I helping get the casket ready after the viewing.

A beautiful collage of pictures that my friend Megan put together (see last post about how great my friends are).

The pallbearers: Papa, Grandpa, Uncle Seth, and Uncle Landon

Our family at the graveside service.

Nona and Sisi at the viewing.

All of the Ainge siblings.

Briz and I putting white roses on top of Holland's casket.

One of the jokes this weekend: how much Sisi looks like Grandpa. It's a little freaky.

People I love very much. My Mom has been my best friend through all of this. I like to give my Mom a hard time a lot. But I can't rely on anyone quite like I can with her.


Briawna said...

perfectly stated. still, i wish i was there in oregon. miss you guys.

Sierra said...

I have to admit, I cried while reading this whole thing. But what's new, right? Thank you for sharing, Lex. This is beautifully written. Your words are inspiring and hopeful. I love you so much. You are one of the strongest women I have ever met.

Carly said...

I'm glad you attempted to write about it even if you feel like you can't describe it well. It was amazing day for me too.

On an unrelated note- your ugly cry doesn't really qualify as an ugly cry because you don't look ugly. Sorry to inform you.

The Dailys said...

Lexie- Thank you for sharing. You described it so perfectly. I was especially impressed by the picture of you and Nick and Briz at the gravesite. What a strong family you have. I looked at briz's beautiful face and thought how lucky she is to have two amazing parents. I sure Holland was so proud of her family that day.

Amander said...


I'm glad you could share a piece of this. I love it when you write about Holland and anything surrounding her.

I really liked reading the book with what you/your dad said at the funeral. So touching.

(Also, must agree with Carly, not an ugly cry. And you also look beautiful in these pictures. Definitely a beautiful spirit that day.)

Kelly Munns said...

so beautiful. i am so glad you are sharing these things. it means a lot. love you <3