|Joshua's high school friends "The Crew" at Joshua's Memorial|
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort.”
—2 Corinthians 1:3 KJV
The day of Joshua’s memorial service had arrived.
I dressed in black—a rayon dress with a narrow red trim. White pearls hung about my neck—a gift from my husband for my fiftieth birthday months earlier. I slipped on Joshua’s forest-green suede coat and stepped before the mirror. I laid my cheek against my son’s collar and closed my eyes, inhaling his scent.
Our cousins came before we left for the service and cleaned the living room and kitchen. My aunt held me close, and I sank into her soft breast, weeping. Too soon, it was time to leave.
While my husband and I drove to the church building, I glanced at the backseat at Joshua’s gray-speckled urn. I had fastened it snug in the middle seat belt. My heart ripped, and I stifled a sob. Oh, Lord God, this can’t be happening. Not to us. Tears streamed along my cheeks in my silent cries.
The church building was filled with mourners overflowing out the double doors. Some of the folks I’d never seen before. A friend handed each person a twig of mistletoe when they entered. As a child, Joshua used to stand under the kissing greenery and wait for me to see him. He’d do the same for his grandmother Williams. I was glad I thought to have someone hand out the mistletoe.
The service opened with a bagpipe player dressed in Scottish garb, playing “Amazing Grace.” A wail escaped from my lips. Joshua would have loved the pipes. My husband draped his arm around my shoulder and gave me a protective squeeze.
The preacher spoke about how wrong it was to believe a person who died by suicide meant an automatic sentence in hell and not a final destiny in heaven.
My friend Mona and her husband played and sang “Danny Boy.” God bless Mona, for at one point she drew in a deep breath to stifle a sob.
Joshua’s brother and sister and two friends spoke a few words. His dearest friend, Dana, read a Scripture.
To close the service, Jim and I passed out candles and lit them, and everyone sang a hymn that I can no longer remember.
I greeted folks after the service and thanked them as they filed out the door. I was awed by the turnout of more than two hundred acquaintances, friends, and family members.
We are not alone. We walk this path with the Lord God and Jesus, and with our loved ones. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’s name. Amen.