I don't know exactly how many people were there - maybe between 50 and 60. At the last minute we asked our friend Jess who had offered to be our hostess to ask everyone to stand up as we entered the hall. You feel a bit funny asking your friends to stand for you, but we were walking in with his ashes and it just felt like the right thing to do. As we walked in and saw everyone standing silently, literally standing in solidarity for us and for him, I became overwhelmed with emotion. I was so incredibly moved and uplifted. Seeing everyone standing for him is what got me to the front of the hall.
We had a table set up at the front with his photos and memory box and I placed his ashes on the table and Peter lit a candle. The night before I had bought a small stuffed bear which our daughter brought in and placed with his ashes. I did not think that a year after his death I would be buying him a stuffed toy, but I had been thinking about it all year. We had never bought him anything and it had always bothered me.
The service started with a slideshow which Peter & I had been working on for weeks. It was frustrating at first because we have so few pictures. But we did have something amazing we could share - his 3D ultrasound video which we had done when I was 30 weeks pregnant. When Toren died I assumed I could never watch it. But over time, I felt able to watch it. I wanted to see him. It's pretty impressive technology. Peter took out the best clips and put them in the slideshow, and we're just so happy that our friends got to see him, to see what he looked like and to see him alive and moving. In a few of the clips you can see him opening and closing his mouth and at one point it looks like he opens one of his eyes.
After the slideshow came the poems which I had asked three babyloss mothers to read. It was a lot to ask of them and I'm so glad they felt able to do it. My mom could not attend but requested a psalm which another good friend read on her behalf. Then our friend Jonathan who had flown in from Toronto played a beautiful song, one of his own compositions, Lost in the Crowd.
At this point Peter & I got up to light a candle and invited all the babyloss parents present to light one for their children who had died. It was such an important part of the service for us because it was a group of friends that we had only met because of Toren. They have been such a vital support to us over the year and are a big part of his story, as we are of theirs. It was impossible for us not to acknowledge them on this day. When they all rose to take their place in line to light a candle, an incredible wave of sadness washed over me. But also love, for them and for their families. I know how hard it can be to get up and light a candle for your child. The tears I cried in that moment were for them and their babies, not for Toren.
Afterwards Jonathan played another song, Private Universe by Crowded House. I've always loved that song and this year it took on a new meaning for me. Then Peter gave a speech. I'm so proud of him that he got up there to share his thoughts and feelings as Toren's Daddy. And then came one of my favourite parts of the whole day - my brother's video of him playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It's such a beautiful rendition of that song and I'm so grateful to him for doing that.
Once everything at the hall was tidied up, a small group of us visited the infants area of the cemetery and laid flowers along the dry riverbed where stillborn babies' names are inscribed on stones. I had brought the last of the milk I had pumped and sent it back to the earth, flowing among the flowers and the stones.
There is so much more to write about that day. We had Toren's tree there and someone told me that after the service, all the kids rushed the tree! So sweet. I'm sure there's so much I missed that hopefully were captured in people's photos, and also their own stories about the day. My brain is on overload and is shutting down. I will post some photos and the poems and songs, hopefully soon. Peter has told me he'd like to post his speech here as well.
I don't know how to thank all the friends who helped us set up and tear down and who provided support throughout. Also a big thank you for the friends who were able to be there and to those who were with us in their hearts. I am overflowing with tears and gratitude.