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27 September 2005 @ 09:15 am
Thank you for your sympathies and comments.

Rachel, Abby, Jonothan and I drove up to Jacksonville on Friday morning. The viewing was that evening and the service was on Saturday morning, with a fellowship lunch afterward. We took both Abby and Jonothan to the viewing, which was something of a challenge. Despite having talked with her a bit beforehand, Abby didn't quite seem to understand. Rachel walked out with her and talked to her some more and Abby was a bit more unsure and possibly a bit frightened. For what it's worth, having family come in from elsewhere helped to ease her tension. While Jonothan really didn't sit still, it was much easier when we got his stroller out and put him in it. At any rate, it was easy to just roll him outside and walk a few laps outside and then walk back into the funeral home. After 6:30 p.m or so, the place got packed and we stayed out in the lobby area. The only thing that really irritated me was the lady on her cell phone the WHOLE time. I can only hope that she did not do that in the viewing room. The more she talked on the phone, the angrier I got. In my opinion, she should have walked outside to make her oh so important calls, at the very least.

After the viewing, all of our family retreated back to Dean and Stacey's home for a late dinner. It had been at least one or two years since some of us had seen each other. Unfortunately, sometime during that night, the A/C unit froze up and would not work for anything.

The next morning, Jonothan woke up at about 6:00 a.m., but I managed to contain him until about 7:00 a.m. when Dean decided to make a Dunkin' Donuts run. It only made sense that I should drive and we could take Jonothan with us, so as to keep him from going from person to person in an unintended wake up call of sorts. While I had noticed the evening before on the drive to the funeral home, it became even more apparent to me in the morning just how many strip clubs there are in Jacksonville. Well, perhaps just in that part of Jacksonville. We bought our donuts and returned home. Somehow, the eight of us that stayed at Dean and Stacey's managed to get ready before 11:00 a.m. with only two bathrooms. I was amazed, anyway.

Mary, a person from Dean and Stacey's congregation, had offered to have us stay the previous evening, but we had declined. While we were getting ready on Saturday morning, Mary called to let us know that she had arranged for a person to work the nursery, so that Abby and Jonothan would have somewhere to go, if needed, during the memorial service. It was a good thing she had done so, because I was unsure what we'd do with Abby and Jonothan otherwise.

The service was very nicely done, I've only been to this one and my old friend Terry's not that long ago. As I told Rachel afterward, seeing a casket that small just seemed so wrong. While the majority of us kept our composure during most of the service, whenever the pictures of Emma and the songs played behind them, I don't think anyone could help but tear up in some way. And when we greeted Dean, Stacey and Alison after the service, I can't even begin to say.

I don't have the program with me, or I'd be able to type up the different songs and messages that were included in it. One of Emma's teachers read Welcome to Holland, which I've included below:

Welcome To Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley
©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Emma's grandfather (Rachel's dad) wrote the following and e-mailed it to our families. It was printed on the program as well.

My Heroine Died Today

Webster defines a hero as one "celebrated for special achievements and attributes", and a heroine as "a woman renowned for her courage". We all have heroes, as a young man, mine was Roberto Clemente. It was a joy to watch him play baseball with reckless abandon. And ,in the end, he gave his life serving others. Later, Mother Teresa became a heroine of mine, serving the least of the least for her precious Jesus. But, in recent years my heroine has been a frail little girl named Emma. How can I call someone less than fifty pounds a heroine?

Easy, I watched her fight the good fight for almost nine years! Those first few days, the doctors said she would not make it, but Emma fought to live. It was one battle after another, one hospitalization after another, yet she would not quit.

They said she would never walk, but this past Spring, I had the privilege of watching her walk the halls of her school in her walker. She had a tough life, but she lived it with a smile.

So, why would God call Emma to a tough life? I don’t know, but I do know that only the very best are called to the ministry of suffering. When the apostle Paul was called, the Lord said, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:16). We know all the things that happened to Paul, yet he was able to say in Romans 8:18 "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us". As I read that verse I see Emma, as she is now, whole, standing, praising Jesus as she leaps into His arms.

In the end, it can be said of Emma, as it was of Paul in II Tim. 4:7-8 , "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness".

I love Emma and I will miss her, but as with all heroines, her memory lives.

I can look forward to that day when I will see her again in that mansion prepared for her by Jesus (John 14:2-3).

GrandPa Partington

We're getting back into our routines and such, but the Pennsylvania side of the family had the viewing last night, and funeral services and interment is today as well, from what I recall. If it could have been feasible for us to do so, we'd have made arrangements to be there as well. As it is, however, that would have been extremely difficult for us to do. Dean, Stacey and Alison were able to get a flight up, but they had to leave the fellowship lunch as quickly as it was done to make their flight.
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Current Music: Mary Beth Maziarz - Daydream Believer
dodging_fatedodging_fate on September 27th, 2005 01:32 pm (UTC)
*many hugs*

thank you so much for sharing that.
Michaelservermonkey on September 30th, 2005 01:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Liz Erk: HWLizlizerk on September 27th, 2005 01:42 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking about you all.

Michaelservermonkey on September 30th, 2005 01:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
irisira03irisira03 on September 27th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
Death is a strange concept for children to grasp, and it's always a toss up as to how a child will react at funerals. For example, many in my family thought that Mackensie would "understand" more than Christopher did when Grandpa died. They are close in age, and Kensie is extremely intelligent (not to say Christopher isn't - far from it, but Kensie is a force of nature). However, Christopher is much more sensitive than his sister, and he took everything very seriously. As a result, he understood everything much more than his sister did.

My prayers are with you and your family.
Michael: Jonothan and Abbyservermonkey on September 30th, 2005 01:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I'm not sure how much Abby understood, but considering how sheltered I've been from death and, to some extent, Rachel as well, it was probably good to have had Abby there.

Jonothan, well, he's much too young to understand, I imagine.
uncledisgustinguncledisgusting on September 28th, 2005 09:53 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for sharing.

It helps me stay grounded and appreciate how precious my kids are. My boy has some mild form of aspergers, which means he's always going to have a unique outlook on life, and some unique challenges. I wouldn't change any part of him and love him utterly exactly for who he is.

Once again, thanks.
Michaelservermonkey on September 30th, 2005 01:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you, as well.
terranoelle14terranoelle14 on September 28th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry
(((hugs to everyone in the family)))

My sympathies are with all of you. I hadn't remembered you mentioning this, so sorry it's taken me awhile to post.

What a sad loss. I can't even begin to imagine.

The tributes were beautiful though! And it sounds like in the midst of pain they are still clinging to the wonderful time the did share with Emma and relying on God for the strength and peace they will need to get through the coming months!

Please send my thoughts and prayers to your family.
Michaelservermonkey on September 30th, 2005 01:31 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm so sorry
Thank you.