We were recently invited to attend a memorial service in Indianapolis hosted by Riley Children’s Hospital to honor all of the children who had recently passed away under their care. I was nervous as we made the familiar trek to downtown Indy accompanied by my mother, sister, and brother. I did not know what to expect; of the event or my emotional state when the service would begin.
When we walked into the service there was a harpist playing beautiful music. We were instructed to write Lincoln’s name on a little felt square and add it to a Memorial Quilt that was set up down in the front of the room. Jeremy and I walked hand in hand over to the quilt and found a spot for our little sweetie’s name just as the service was about to begin.
They began with a prayer and then began to read the names of the children who had passed. There were so many names… I couldn’t believe it. All of us sharing the same pain of losing our children was overwhelming. We collectively held our breath as the chaplain read – Lincoln Huff. Jeremy and I stood as a very nice nurse brought us each a flower and a little memory pebble to carry with us where ever we go. My family cried more than I did, but I seem to go a little numb during these type of events. I honestly think it is my body’s way of protecting itself from the extreme pain and grief. If I let myself go, I know I will completely lose it and I usually only do that in the privacy of my home. I don’t think it’s unhealthy, just a way that I’ve learned to cope.
For each one of the children whose parents weren’t able to make it they placed a flower in a vase that began empty but slowly filled up until it was over flowing with carnations. They also placed little pebbles around the vase for each baby that never made it out of the NICU before it passed.
The parents were then directed to come down and surround the table that the flowers were on and we lit candles that surrounded a single rose that symbolized hope, strength, and courage. The chaplains also read Psalms 23. It really was lovely.
After the service we were directed into the lobby for refreshments, and we ran into one of the dear ladies who had been in Lincoln’s room the day that he died. She and a nurse had helped us make molds of his little hands and feet. I just had to let her know that those are now our most treasured possessions! And she remembered us. I was a little surprised, but relieved we didn’t have to try to explain who we were. The work that they do is just tremendous for parents who are losing everything… they provide something tangible to remember your child by.
It was hard being at Riley again, looking down those long hallways that I had walked so many times only 6 months earlier… just more reminders of the constant ache in my heart for my son. Still, I am glad we went. I don’t want to have any regrets when it comes to honoring him and keeping his memory alive. Thank you Riley for speaking his name.