Goodbye My FriendI met my friend Bridget Baker at the Woodstock Funeral Home tonight to say goodby to our friend Tiffany Robbins. We met up so as to walk in together and I can say that I am glad that she and I decided to do so.
We walked in and could see so many familiar faces from the wedding just a few short years ago. Friends catching up, some smiling as they were lost in thought, others sad because they were unsure how to handle what they knew was the real reason for this get together.
We signed the register to record our visit and made our way into the room. Anthony was at the door and he hugged Bridget who had coordinated their wedding not long ago. He hugged Adriana who had prepared the feast for the amazing wedding night, then he turned to me and wrapped his arms around me and said... "thank for the kind words that you wrote in your blog post"... I did not know what to say except "no problem at all". What could I say. How could I ever console this amazing father and husband who had just lost the only woman he loves. I couldn't.
He then turned to the screen that I did not notice behind me and said to me, "the wedding photos are amazing, thank you, they are all I have left". I was in shock as those words literally cut thru me like a cold knife. On the one hand I was glad that he had them to look back on but then again I felt as if they were not enough. They were not enough. They were not her, just the recorded memory of her. I was full of mixed feelings that I am afraid I can not fully began to try to describe to you.
We talked for few minutes more and them I noticed Tiffany's father sitting in a chair, heart broken and sorrow in his eyes. I went to him and offered what little condolences I could as I stared into his eyes and I could tell he was holding so much in. His only daughter and second grand daughter lay just 15 feet away, together in one casket. He was at a total loss and I did not know how to bring him any comfort. I know that if it had been my daughter there, I would not be consolable in the slightest. I then turned my attention to Tiffanys' mother and offered the same sympathy and we gave me a warm but hurting smile. She said to me, "Tiffany was an angel, and now she truly is one". I agreed and wanted to make her pain go away. I wanted to end the suffering that they carried in their hearts, hers and her husbands and Anthony's but I couldn't. I could not help them, but I could pray for them and I do.
My thoughts turned to Malaya who was not there and has not asked for her mommy as of yet. I am sure she will in her own time. I listened to Anthony agonize as to how to answer his little girl and he said that he would show her pictures and videos, but knows that it will not replace a mothers warm hug, loving smile, gentle kiss when she skins her knee. He knows that it will be a long road and he has to do the best he can and I know that when all is said and done he is going to do great. He will fill those shoes as best he can and all with the Lords help and that of his family and friends.
Bridget and I made our way to the casket to see Tiffany. She was so beautiful and lovely, just as the last time that I saw her. She lay sleeping with baby Ariella in her arms. I was crushed. I did not know how to take it. Here was a mommy with her baby laying next to her. The baby she had loved from conception. The life that love had made. She had nurtured her, cared for herself simultaneously caring for Ariella, bought clothes, planned the babies room, prepared for the arrival just to have it all wiped clean. I was deeply moved and saddened. I wished that it had not happened. I wish that their could have been another way but God makes no mistakes and his plan is yet to be seen. But make no mistake, there is a plan non the less and it will serve as a reminder that Tiffany and Ariella's beautiful lives, at no point, were in vain.
Bridget, Adriana and I stop at a table that is filled with photos of Tiffany and Anthony. Most of the images are those from the wedding and engagement shoot that I took just three and a half years ago. It was so surreal to look at them thinking that I NEVER would have thought that years later I would see the same photos that once brought so much joy to the both of them as they started their lives together now standing in the funeral home where this chapter in their lives had ended. I was once again lost in cascading thought and emotion over the paralleled comparison.
Bridget and I said our goodbys to Anthony, reassuring him that if he needed anything he could call us. Everyone always says that and yet it is rarely used, however if he ever called Bridget or I for help, it would be there with not doubt at all. I hope he really understood that.
We made our way to the parking lot and reminisced about our own lives, our own spouses and how we often take them for granted and mistreat them. We made an unspoken vow to try to be better to our "better half" and hugged goodby.
I drove home and thought about all the different ways that I could be a better father, a better husband, a more effective witness for God in this lost and withering world and I hope that I can be most if not all of that. I thought about what Anthony had side when he recalled his last interaction with Tiffany, it was this. He heard her leaving the house for the last time and ran up the stairs to give her a kiss goodbye. He had made it a habit to always do that and I know that it will bring comfort in the future to know that they last time he saw her it was to show her how much he loved her. I know that Tiffany felt that from him as did Ariella.
If I have learned anything from Tiffany and Anthony its this. Love those you have while you have them because as the Bible says it like this...
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
Here one moment then like the sun as dusk... it flickers, sets and is gone.