In front of me, as far as the eye could see were motorcycles. Behind me were three limos with lights flashing. And I drove alone, in the middle of this. …no radio blaring, no kids talking, just the hum of the air conditioner and my own thoughts.
The motorcycles in front of me were ridden by the people of HomeTown Heroes. Hometown Heroes was escorting the limos behind me. Those limos were carrying the family who was on their way to say goodbye to their little boy. A little boy. An eight year old boy who had battled cancer since he was three. Last week, with his Mom and Aunt by his side, this little boy, went to Heaven.
Yesterday, I was part of Hometown Heroes. When we arrived at the church, most of the funeral attendees had been seated. The director then asked Hometown Heroes to walk in before the family. Not because they were just attendees at the funeral, but because they were part of this boys extended family.
When I walked in, I am very lucky that Colette and her husband Capt. Mike were with me. My heart stopped because in front of me, in a beautiful casket, lay this eight year old, beautiful boy. He was perfect. He was so peaceful. My throat hurt so bad from trying to stop myself from crying. But the tears came. And I couldn’t stop them as hard as I tried.
This beautiful boy, baby boy, he was only eight, had been taken from his family. From his Mom. From his Brother. Stacy, who was sitting in front of me, had a special place in her heart for this little boy. As she watched the family walk in I saw a tear drop from her eye. It didn’t roll down her face, because it was such a big tear it literally dropped from her eye to her shoulder. Time seemed to come to almost a complete stop. The tear fell in slow motion. And all I could think of was how bad my heart hurt because of this pain, how bad my throat hurt trying to hide the tears that wanted to drop. It was so sad.
But as sad as I was, I sat there and thought about how his Mom felt. How his Brother felt. That Mommy had to bury her baby today. And every time I thought that, and thought about how she must be feeling, the knot in my throat would come back and hit me and I would be crying again. Crying for HomeTown Heroes who supported this little boy and his family. Crying for the family who had to say goodbye to this beautiful little boy.
Crying for the injustice of it all.
At the end of the service, the family asked Hometown Heroes to stand and thanked them for everything they had done. Sitting with HomeTown Heroes, I walked out of the church with them. We walked by this little boys Mom and Brother and I hugged that Mom like I had known her forever. I suppose in a way I did. Our hearts, like all the other Moms, beat for the love of our children.
When we got outside, we were supposed to be waiting for the rest of the church and the family to come out to watch the casket be brought out, but I knew I was going to lose it again. I walked to my truck without looking up, opened the door and laid my head on the seat and just let it all out. I was crying so hard I could hardly catch my breath. I wanted to curl up in a ball with the sadness I was feeling.
I wasn’t crying for myself.
I was crying because I felt HomeTown Heroes pain. They loved this little boy and his family.
I was crying for the Mom who would not see her beautiful boy again. There will be one less chair filled at the dinner table. One less seat filled in the van. No more days of her little boy saying “I love you Mom”. No more days of people hearing “Have a good day” from this little boy. This little boy who never complained about being sick even on his worst days. This little boy that always had a smile on his face when his brother walked in. No more nights of kissing his beautiful forehead goodnight.
When I finally got myself together, I walked back over to Colette and Capt. Mike and I watched as the men from HomeTown Heroes carried the casket to it’s resting place. A prayer was said and then, it was time for the reception afterwards. We let the family have their own time. But, it was so nice to see how much this little boys family and friends appreciated HomeTown Heroes. They really do make a huge difference in these people’s lives.
Some of the HomeTown Heroes decided to go to a restaurant afterwards to talk, comfort each other, and maybe get something to eat. I was invited to join them.
But on my way home I got a call from my daughter Betsy who had split her lip open. She told me what happened and then said “I need you.” It did not take me a quarter of a second to decide where I was going – to eat or home to my baby. My baby needed me and I was going to be there for her.
During the funeral, one of the little boys Aunts spoke. And one thing I will never forget is that she said something to the effect of “It doesn’t matter how busy your lives are, take the time to be there if someone needs you.” I know I try to do as much as I can, but that might as well be the motto for HomeTown Heroes.
HomeTown Heroes helps children and their families when the unthinkable happens. I will always be honored to say that I know them. If you want to help be a part of this family called HomeTown Heroes, you can find them on the web or on Facebook.
Please keep this family and HomeTown Heroes in your prayers and hug your own babies today. Tell them you love them. And thank God you are able to have another day with them.