I’d never felt so much pressure ... and so little inspiration.
“Struggling?” Rick asked as he came up behind me.
“Like you can’t believe. It’s so important I get this right but the words just won’t come.”
He dropped a kiss on my head. “I’ll pray.”
A few minutes later he came back with a delicate pink rose in a cut-glass vase. A pale ribbon curled around its stem. “I thought this might inspire you.”
Tears welled as I focused on blushing petals and breathed sweet fragrance. “This was Rose.” I whispered. “Lord, help me to capture her essence in words.”
The church was a mass of white lilies, caring friends and grieving family members. Rose’s tiny coffin lay alone at the front.
“I’d like to invite Chelsea up to give the eulogy this afternoon.” The pastor moved aside as I joined him on the platform. “Chelsea is best friends with Jack and Maria and has been a great support to them at this difficult time.”
I unfolded my paper and prayed as I started to speak. “Rosalie Bianca Howard was born six weeks and five days ago. Her parents were given the option of aborting her at twenty weeks but they chose to give her a chance.”
I paused and looked around the church. Some people looked disapproving but others nodded. Jack and Maria clung to one another, tears glistening. I bent down and drew a cut-glass vase from under the pulpit.
“I’d like to compare Rose to this rose bud my husband brought me yesterday. It’s not attached to the bush and has no chance at a long life ... but that doesn’t mean I should throw it away.” I brushed a finger across its soft petals and thought of the little baby. “Rose was born with Trisomy 13 and Jack and Maria knew she wouldn’t live long. In spite of that, they welcomed her into their arms, hearts and lives.”
A sob threatened and I swallowed hard, trying to compose myself. “We all love cut flowers and fill our homes with them in summer. Rose was a blessing to all of us while she was here. She loved unconditionally and her fragrance filled our senses.” I could almost feel her tiny frame cuddled into the crook of my arm, almost see her navy eyes as they roamed my face. She had been such a sweet baby, so tiny, so fragile.
“Rose was a flower from heaven that was ours to hold and enjoy for a short time. The memories, however, will linger forever.” I paused again and searched the crowd, locking eyes with people here and there. Some of the frowns had softened and several women were crying.
“It’s a hard thing to love a child and know that your time with her is limited. I salute Jack and Maria for their courage in allowing Rose to be born. I salute them for loving her wholeheartedly. I salute them for being the very best parents they could be.” I turned my gaze to them. “You’ve done an outstanding job, guys.”
Then I turned my eyes back to the crowd. “Jack and Maria’s job is done but ours is just beginning. They’re going to need our support and love for many months to come. Make time to visit or give them a call and don’t be afraid to speak of Rose. She’s had an impact on all our lives and we need to acknowledge that. We need to remember her with love and joy.”
I carefully took the rose from the vase, the ribbon curling around the stem as the pastor began to pray. I walked across to Jack and Maria and gently placed it in their hands. “Never forget that Rose is safe in God’s hands.” I whispered. “And He loves you very much.”
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