A funeral for a child

Just as we would have expected the sun to rise, we thought this baby would be born. But one of the four agreements says, “Don’t make assumptions.” Well, I’m sorry, but I think you can assume that two weeks prior to one’s due date, positive check-ups along the way, and nothing wrong being done, I’m sure it’s okay to assume the baby would have been born.

In my best friend’s case it didn’t happen. Two weeks before the due date, a placental abruption cut off nutrients and oxygen from the life within. The child could not be saved. He looked perfectly normal. A whole baby. With no heartbeat, he was baptized. He lay with his mother. His face was touched.

You only get two visitors at a time like this, heartbreak and love. At the funeral yesterday they walked in like two giants. The religious service was beautiful and scripted. However, those two giants took the form of the father who delivered a eulogy broken and holy at once as the small casket lay beside him with a small wreath upon it and a lit candle at the front.

The requested song was “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen:

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Now maybe there’s a god above
As for me all I ever learned from love
Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not some pilgrim who’s claimed to see the light
It’s a cold and it’s a very broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
But listen love is not some kind of victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
Now remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove she was moving too
And every single breath that we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to [name of city where he is performing] fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand right here before the Lord of Song
With nothing, nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

When my friend woke up the morning after the funeral, the radio alarm went off, the local station at once broadcast the song by Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah.

2 thoughts on “A funeral for a child

  1. Vicki Woodyard

    A powerful piece of writing as it strikes at the very root of love and challenges us to rise up, rise up while sinking down into the heart.

    I saw Leonard sing Hallelujah in person. I am sure when your friend heard it, it was a direct message for him and his family.

    Thank you.

    Like

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