“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound…”
The somber bagpipe version of the song began to fill the room. I gazed down and started to weep. I recalled how every time Joey heard that song, he would cry. “I once was lost, but now I’m found… ‘God, I have lost him forever’.
I know that dying of a of a broken heart is something real. My life, the small bit of it that I was clinging onto for the past few days, was escaping me. I could feel my body being drained of all of it. I caught a glimpse of a of a light haze, an aura that would be my life, leaving me, slipping away. I would be joining my son, I thought. It’ll be OK.
The following is probably not in order of the day’s events, but they are memories that will take refuge in my heart and mind for the rest of my days.
His best friend stepped up to the podium to speak. He fondly recalled memories of them growing up together and how, through thick and thin, good or bad, they remained the best of friends…brothers at heart. There would never be a day when he didn’t think of him.
Joey’s brother was next. He thanked him for being a great big brother. He read Psalms 91. In between sobs, he promised that he would talk about him to his niece and nephew. They would grow up knowing what a great man their uncle Joey was. He vowed he would never let them forget that he had an astounding brother and lamented that if he hadn’t left, they would know themselves what a great uncle they had.
Walking up slowly to the podium, it was his sister’s turn. She started to cry as she told the audience how excited he was when she told him she was getting married. He teased that even though she was going to be the bride, he was going to be the one taking center stage. She recalled how they laughed as they argued as to who would be the best looking one at the wedding. She cried even harder as she told the crowd that she would gladly let him be the center of attention, if he would only come back.
We laughed when they both recalled that as they were growing up, they never had a name because they were known as either Joey’s younger brother or Joey’s little sister. We cried when we heard Leo (his baby dog) howl as a lonely animal cries out when they are left alone…missing their human parent. He would lay his head down and then try to bolt towards where his dad was laying in stillness. His cries, like ours, were full of pain.
His dad and I stood, took our spouse’s hands and began our walk to the stage. On the way, I reached for Joey’s girlfriend hand and she slowly and painful stood up. Together, we walked onto the stage …side by side as a united force. United by love…united in pain.
His dad went first, his voice cracking as he thanked the crowed including his fellow CHP officers who took up an entire corner of the room, for their love and support.
We were overwhelmed by the more than 500 people that had gathered. It was standing room only. Every corner of the room was taken by someone who not only knew and loved Joey, but by people whose lives he had positively and unequivocally touched. How extremely humbled and proud I felt at that very moment! This child, MY son, my angel, this wonderful baby boy that I carried for 9 months, raised, nurtured and loved for 31 years had touched the lives of so many people! How incredibly amazing was that?
Amazing Grace…Was blind but now I see