It was the most gut wrenching thing I have ever done.
It was only the second time I had been to a funeral graveside.
It was the first time I was standing in full view of the family and grave.
It was the first time "the family" was our friends.
It was the first time I ever saw such a small casket.
It was the first time I had to watch a family literally lean on each other sobbing over the death of their daughter and sister.
It was the first time I saw my kids' friends in such horrible emotional pain.
I could not do anything but sob.
It was hard to hear the nonstop crying of a 9 year old.
Even harder of a 15 year old.
Laying their heads on their parents' shoulders. Held in their parents' arms.
It was the first time I ever saw our friend sob so hard that his body shook.
It was the first time I ever saw the family throw dirt into the grave, onto the casket of their beloved baby.
It is really interesting to watch, really. The way each person does it so differently. Traditionally, you are supposed to bury the body quickly, and the friends all help do it. But to watch the family do it, is very emotional.
To watch the father, 39, shoveling the dirt as if on a mission. serious. yet a deep sadness, visible, even though it is hidden behind his sunglasses.
The brother, 21, more thoughtfully. trying to make sure he is getting the dirt where he wants it to land. tears falling down his face into the grave below him.
The brother, 19, ever so gently lifting the shovel and then squatting down to gently place the dirt onto his beloved baby sister. as if tossing the dirt in like all the others, he may somehow hurt her. tears falling straight from his eyes onto his sister below. by far the hardest to watch.
The sister, 17, not really wanting to do it. but perhaps maybe just doing a little. a little bit to make her feel better. to have some needed closure. to possibly just get a peek into the grave of her sister who is no longer.
The other sisters, 15, 13, with a little help from their father. not really wanting to. perhaps too sad (15) or too scared (13).
The mother, 39, topping off the full grave with a little bit of dirt. All the hours of watching over her amazing, fighting, sick baby. All the love and care she had given her in her short life. There for her, even at the very end.
I walked away thinking about their other sister, the 2 year old. The one who was at my house having a playdate with Alyssa. The one who loved her baby sister like I've never seen a 2 year old able to. The one who plays with every baby she sees in the baby gym after school. The one who always looks inside every carseat she walks by when we play at the park after school. The one that probably does not understand that her baby is no longer at the hospital, and will never be able to see her again. I wept for her as I walked back to the car.
Luckily for her, my kids were playing freeze dance with her. And she was chasing Will around the house when I got home.
Luckily for her, she will not have to remember seeing her baby sister being buried.
But this is a strong, close family. They care a lot about each other and will be there for each other. Just like the sons were rubbing their father's arm while he was shaking, I have no doubt in my mind that they will get through this pain together.