On the same day that I wrote about life being both heavy and light, my good friend and neighbor, and previous host mother, Gretel, lost her six week old baby. He was born extremely premature with some very troubling diagnoses, one being hydrocephalus. Yet he was a fighter, he continued to prove the doctors wrong, as his family and friends held on to the hope that he could survive. But after six weeks of struggling, he took his last breath here on earth. The grieving for Adrian Noe is heavy and yet, there is a peace that he is no longer in pain.
I am so honored to have been invited into the mourning process for this little boy. As soon as we received the call from the hospital, family, friends and neighbors all divided up the responsibilities. Some mopped the floors of the home to prepare for the guests, others prepared coffee for the all-night vigil, another friend went to get the coffin. I went to the funeral home with a friend to rent the items needed for the vigil. Kevin and Estela went to the grocery store to pick up napkins, cups, ice, pop and butter for the pastry items.
When Gretel arrived home from the hospital, with her baby boy in her arms, we immediately stopped what we were doing. She stood in her doorway as we all took turns giving her a hug and sharing our condolences, Adrian was absolutely beautiful. I had only gotten to see him once before at the hospital, his siblings never saw him alive because he was in an intensive care unit for his entire life. After she finished greeting everyone, she took her little boy to his bedroom for the very first time. She laid him on the bed and we took his handprints and footprints, something to remember him by.
I have come to deeply respect the way that this culture responds and copes with death. The person that has passed on is cared for by their loved ones, not by strangers. Family and friends stop everything and gather for the next twenty-four hours to remember each precious life. The person who has passed is not in some back corner of a funeral home, but rather in the living room of the home where life was lived, where tears were shed, where prayers were said and birthday candles were extinguished. It is a beautiful, yet profoundly challenging process as one really cannot avoid the grief of death as it is right in front of you.
We passed the night holding a vigil for baby Adrian. We laughed and cried, shared stories and reminisced. In the morning we headed to the cemetery where Gretel would say her final goodbye. It was both heart wrenching and beautiful to watch. She sang him songs, tickled him and cried many tears over him. His grandmother shared the story of his life. We all stood in the hot sun, some with umbrellas to shield themselves from the heat, with tears rolling down our faces.
Adrian Noe, we are so grateful for all that you taught us! You are loved!
He now has the best view!