After viewing the lifeless body of Joseph, my family and I drove to the funeral home to select his deathbed. Less than twenty-four hours prior, our seventeen-year-old left our home, planning to install a CD player in his red Plymouth Laser. And now, we were selecting a casket to cradle his dead body, and his car lay mangled beneath old cedar trees on a country road.
I enjoyed every pregnant moment anticipating Joseph’s birth and life. Phil and I carefully selected his name and thoughtfully furnished his nursery.
I sewed a quilt for his crib, his very first bed, myself. A four-inch, bright red border with tiny white polka dots framed the white center which was embellished with bright colored balloons in all the primary colors. I was anything but a seamstress, but when I brought my firstborn home from the hospital, I wanted to welcome him into a bright, colorful, fun nursery.
I read every book and magazine article I could find about how to raise and care for my child. I was honored and elated that God called me to be his mama.
And I was utterly blindsided by his death!
There was no book or set of instructions telling me how to take leave of my son. How does one mother a dead child? I was desperate for God to pull a trick out of his back pocket and rewind time. Or better yet, just send him back. After all, he is God.
I needed my family of five to be gathered around our dining room table, not some broken family of four walking aimlessly around a funeral home looking at coffins and choosing funeral music.
As I rambled around the funeral home, my mind raced back to the bunk beds I bought eleven years earlier—sturdy beds for rambunctious boys to build forts on, enjoy sleepovers, and then take to college. Money was tight in those days. I earned every dollar selling my boys’ baby clothes & equipment and an old stove. I selected warm bedding with care in a rich navy that would serve a little boy, and that young man would consider masculine enough to use in his college dorm.
And now here we were at a funeral home, choosing a deathbed for our son and brother? We paid nearly ten times as much for that stupid gray box as we did those bunk beds.
We chose one of the least expensive. It was not fine furniture Joseph would carry into his first home and then pass down to his children. Neither was it a bed where he would sleep for eternity.
He was now home with Jesus.
—Shelley Ramsey, Grief: A Mama’s Unwanted Journey