For the funeral there were a lot of decisions that needed to be made. We had to decide on what he was going to wear, what type of casket to order, what songs would be sung, what to do about food for a luncheon, the times of the visitation in the funeral, picture boards and guest books, burial plots, if we wanted to walk in with the casket or not, and what readings would be said during the service.
Again I had a lot of support from family to help make these difficult choices. Part of them being difficult was that there are four of us and I tried to make sure that everybody had a voice and got what they wanted or felt they needed at that time. It's really hard when one is 11, one is 15, one is 18 and I was 42. Being in a different role for everybody also made it really hard. We had to do a lot of things we didn't want to but knew we had to. I think the whole situation has brought us closer and I hope that's part of God's plan.
Emotionally it is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. The worst part was watching my three boys say goodbye to their dad. The whole time I was thinking that the last time I had stood was Steve at that alter was when we got married. The kneelers were the same kneelers we had when we said our wedding vows and now I'm here saying goodbye. My faith kept me going to that church from the time I was in Middle School and I still continue to go because that's where I get my strength from.
The amount of support from the community was absolutely overwhelming. We held the visitation at our church and we figure at least 700 people attended. People stood in line for over 2 hours to give condolences and love to my in my family. Some people are unable to stay and sign the guestbook anyway. For the funeral itself they had to stop the lines of the funeral could start. Many people stayed for lunch. A huge number of people contributed food and worked in the kitchen for hours getting everything set up and cleaned up. A list was kept of who had donated food. Another list was made for the flower donations for the altar. My sister took a picture of each bouquet with the small card attached so we would know which ones were which ones we got them home.
Ahead of time we made picture boards. Collecting the photos was fun as there was lots of laughter and memories amongst the tears that we shed. My sister-in-law found an app on her phone that allowed her to scan in pictures from old photo albums and put them on to a Google Drive. We asked friends and family to send pictures that they had to the drive and were able to print them at our local Walgreens. After the funeral I was able to collect the pictures and make small photo albums for each of my boys, myself and had quite a few photos to send to other people.
During the funeral I found myself thanking God for the time that we had together. I asked him for guidance on how to do this alone. I asked him to watch over my boys and prayed that the relationship that Steve and I had was enough that the boys would be able to be amazing dads and husbands like he was to me and them.
A friend of the family did the readings and she did an amazing job. She said when she went to practice them at home she was at the window in the sunshine and felt either her mom or Steve looking after her, giving her the confidence to be able to read.
Our priest gave an amazing eulogy about the man he was and how he affected the entire community by being an active member of the parish, a teacher for almost 20 years in many schools, an amazing dad to three boys, a wonderful husband, a son, a brother, and a friend. He touched lives in no matter what he did and he didn't ever do it for the recognition. He hated being put in the spotlight. He lived a life that we should all strive to live. He was kind, loving and funny. He was always there for everyone and I feel that sometimes we took advantage of that.
I know Steve is in heaven. I know he was watching all of us that day. I know he continues to be a guardian angel and will continue to watch over us as we grow into a new normal.