Friday, February 19, 2010

Celebrating Sam's Life. Part 2

This is the second post about the day we said goodbye to Sam (the first is here). It may be upsetting to some people. But I've gotta do it. I want to remember it. Don't read it if you will get upset.

When we went into the chapel to sit down, I noticed just how many people were there. All the seats were filled, and so was the foyer, and there were also people standing outside the foyer and in the courtyard to the side. I can't explain but it made me feel good to know that Samuel was so well thought of. We'd assumed there would be a few people there, but it was also 4 days after Christmas, so we knew that many people wouldn't be able to come.

Teenagers shouldn't have to go to a funeral
I was really pleased to see so many of Samuel's friends and school mates there. I know it must have been very hard for them, but we had really wanted them there. We deliberately included certain parts of the service to make them feel more comfortable. Right from the start we were so aware of the impact Sam's death would have on them. We were of course devastated, but to a teenager, your friends are your life. To have one suddenly die with no explanation must be such a blow. When you're a teenager you're supposed to be invincible!

As we sat down, 21 Guns by Green Day came on. We hadn't planned it at all, it was pure coincidence. This was a song that Sam loved, and it brought almost everyone to tears before the service had even begun.
John stood up and began his introductions. Then Anthony and I stood up to read the eulogy. I hadn't known until about 1 minute before I stood up that I would actually be able to. But I was surprised that we actually managed to get through it without breaking down.
Then my Dad spoke, giving all the thanks to everyone (I can never repay some people for what they did for me, especially on that day, but I did want to thank them publicly). He spoke very well too (I don't know where we found the strength!)
Then Anthony's brothers got up. James shared his memory of the concert trip, and reminded us of Samuel's love of a good steak, Tim talked about tickling Sam so much that he vomited (well, Sam did try to warn him), Phillip talked about their trip to the zoo where Sam got to feed the tiger and then 'tamed' the llama. There was apparently a llama at the zoo that would never come anywhere near people, but he walked up to Sam and ate out of his hand. Sam got his Dr Dolittle-ishness from Anthony I think. He always loved animals and was very gentle. I'm not really all that surprised about the llama.
Christopher got up and tapped the microphone. "I've always wanted to do that" he said, and everyone cracked up, which was nice. He then read "Do not stand at my grave and weep" (beautifully I might add). He then decided to go off on a bit of a tangent about space travel and such, but because we're all used to that, we were able to head him off without too much trouble (Christopher has autism and occasionally doesn't realise when it's time to stop talking).

Then they played the slideshow. I'd put together a slideshow of photos of Sam (many of them I have put up here). It was set to three songs:
We chose the songs very carefully. We wanted them to be songs that Samuel liked from bands he liked. These three bands were right up there with his favourites (as you know Green Day were his 2nd favourite after The Living End, but we just couldn't find one by them that we thought fit the occasion, and that wouldn't be too loud for some of the 'oldies' in attendance).
One evening - I think it was some time around Christmas, I can't remember - Anthony, Oliver and I went for a drive in the jeep; out the back of Tharwa where Anthony used to take the boys (and me sometimes) driving. We listened to a CD James had made for us, and thought about which songs would go well. The Green Day and Blink 182 songs were on there. I had always found the Foo Fighters one very poignant (I think I'd even like it played at my funeral), and as I've mentioned before, Samuel, Anthony and I (and even Ollie a little) shared a love of the Foo Fighters.
As you can imagine, after the slideshow there wasn't a dry eye in the house, so Lorraine (nanna) did pretty well to get up and talk. She passed on a message from Jonathon (Anthony's son from a previous relationship) and then passed back to John. While they were speaking (John read a message from Jake, Samuel's best friend), the big group of teenagers (Sam's friends and school mates) filed past the coffin and wrote lots of lovely messages on it. It was such a nice moment. A few of our other family and friends came up and wrote messages too.

Then John gave the committal and the coffin was lowered while they played the song 'Time of your life" by Green Day. This song was one of Sam's favourites anyway, and it kind of fit the day. We were also pretty blown away when we found the chords for it (and nothing else) in a folder in Sam's guitar case. I'd heard him playing "Fire Water Burn" by the Bloodhound Gang on the guitar, but not Green Day. I think we made a good choice. Some of the kids were writing "hope you had the time of your life" on the coffin, and they have been on the mural too.

After that we went outside and it was just like before the service. Lots of people, lots of hugs, lots of tears. It was nice but I was tired and shell-shocked and just wanted to stop. So when everyone had sort of filtered off, we went down to the wake. There were a few people there, and I was pleased to see a few of Sam's friends. They were very nice and made my cousin Sarah (who was almost exactly one year older than Sam) feel welcome.

It was only when I got to the wake that I felt myself relax. I had a beer (the first in a week - believe me, I hadn't felt like drinking at all up until then!), chatted to people, at some point had something to eat, and had a few more drinks. We had Sam's music and there was a really good vibe (well, as good as it could be). We shared stories about Sam and drank (and even laughed a little) and I felt a little bit of the tension ebb away.

They say the hardest part is the days leading up to the funeral (the business end, as a dear friend called it). I think they're right. I certainly felt a little better when it was all done. And I was even able to sleep a little that night (just a little).

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