The wake was harder for others than it was for me. In a way I had been looking forward to it for days.
Chris and I arrived early with our family, for set up and some time alone with Mabel. We had asked if we could see her before they closed the casket. Chris and I went to see her first. As we walked the hallway to her room, I broke down. The tears were a mix of some sort of happiness that I could see her again and sadness that this would be the last time I’d see her in person. I know I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised how small the casket was. And then there she was- she was perfect. Just how she was when we said goodbye in the hospital.. Her little pouty lips. She was swimming in her carrot outfit, like I knew she would be. She had her little hat with bunny ears on and her cute little feet were in little bunny booties. I could she just a patch of skin on her ankle and it made my happy. Chris’s mother had given her a few things to take with her- two little bunnies, one super soft and the other handmade holding a carrot. And my cousin gave her a little carrot baby. We thought about taking some pictures (she did look so lovely lying there), but decided we were happier remembering her with the photos we had.
After our time alone with Mabel, our family had the chance to visit with her. Some had seen her before, like my mother and father, and some were seeing her for the first time in person. It was lovely to watch. I think it made it more real for them which made it more real for me. My 3 year old niece jumped the line, because she wanted to see baby Mabel. And then after everyone was done, she wanted to go back and see her again. I loved her for that.
Chris and I spent the remaining time before calling hours began just visiting with her. I told her lots of things. How wanted she was. How much I loved her. How glad I was she came. How much all her family loved her. How I would do it again for those six hours.
We opted for a closed casket for the calling hours, which was a good decision. The pictures alone were enough to melt people, let alone the sight of such a small casket. We laid the carrot baby in front of her casket. We had brought several large photos of her, hand and footprints and a scrapbook of photos. My mother-in-law, my sister and I had put together the scrapbook the day before, laying out photos to tell her story- from labor to her passing. I am so thankful for their help in putting her story on pages, so people could see and know her.
As our friends and extended family came through, there were many tears. My heart warmed watching so many people look at her photos and the tears that they brought. I was touched by how emotional my family was. I think the calling hours were actually easiest on me. I was happy. It was my chance to show her off. So few people had a chance to actually meet Mabel or really see her face. So this was my time to share her with my world. See, she existed. She really was here. And look at how beautiful she was. Know her.
Everyone came. Those who could not, emailed or called or texted. They were there too. High school friends who lived close and far came. Family friends traveled hours through a snowstorm to come. So many nurses from the hospital came. Just about my entire office staff came (and I work in four different offices). The doctors and midwives in my practice came. Midwives from other practices came. My genetic counselor came. Some of my close patients came. Chris’s work friends came. My dad’s work friends came. Family came. My own midwives and doctor came.
And they all saw her, my beautiful Mabel.