There was a baby blessed today, and afterward my heart started doing that pitter patter thing, where you know you are going to get up, even though you don't know what you are going to say. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I shared my sentiments on birth and death, and then even less surprisingly, I started to cry, and then I sat down and cried harder. I couldn't stop, for what felt like a long time. At least until the end of the meeting. A friend of mine, sitting in front of me, turned around to give me a package of kleenex. It was a small gesture in such a time, but it was a gesture, and I was grateful. Strangers were kind to me after, which I guess is one of the reasons we sometimes say something out loud in church. Or maybe it is just why I do, and on a day like today, when I needed kindness.
The services for Spencer's mother happened on Wednesday (which happened to be Yom Kippur, the Day of Holiness or Atonement). They were I think, just what she wanted, that is: simple and based largely on the Savior. One of her brother's spoke, the other sang, and her sister read the eulogy. Each of her children also spoke briefly, as well as her husband. Everyone's remarks were sweet and brave. Her grandchildren are mostly small, but they sang "I am a child of God," and one of my little nephews blew me a kiss during it, after I blew one to him. (Which means that maybe I shouldn't have done that, but it warmed my heart.)
There was a viewing the night before, and that is where I cried the most, aside from the night of the actual passing, or the days preceding it, when we knew it was immanent. What made me cry so hard? A conversation with one of Spencer's closest friends, wherein he asked me how Spencer was really doing, because he wanted to know, and also understood that most people in Spencer's situation just nod and say that they are fine, when they are really not fine. I was grateful that someone was that caring towards my husband in one of his greatest times of need.
The other moment of vast tears was when I noticed a bouquet of flowers that was not like the rest. It was vibrant and beautiful, but made out of some material, rather than living leaves and buds. I soon found out that it was from her students, and that each flower contained a note written in a unique child's hand. I started to read them, and there was no way that I could not cry. One child expressed gratitude to Mrs. Steenblik for teaching her how to read and write, another for teaching him how to speak English, still another for teaching her her multiplication. Each child mentioned Janice's smile and kindness. Many mentioned specific moments when she showed her smile or kindness to them. Many more told her that she was the best teacher that they had ever had, and that they missed her.
Sometime later I noticed a woman in line to pay her respects, that I recognized. She was the teacher who subbed for Janice, when she was on her 6 months of sick leave. I met her because the very first day that Janice had to return to work she was still sick, and exhausted, and nervous, so Spencer and I accompanied her, and helped her teach for part of the day. The teacher was so kind then, so I greeted her now. She was hired full time and teaching the next grade up, meaning the same students Janice had last year. She had them make the flowers, and told me that they needed it for themselves, they were so distraught. One of the students, a girl, was standing in front of her with her dad. At class that day she begged her teacher to bring her, and convinced her father instead. She wanted to be there. I watched as this little girl looked at the body of her former teacher, and could not help but feel for her and with her.
Many others gathered together that day and the next to show love, and also to mourn with many others who were mourning, as well as to rejoice in Janice's life.
In picture form:
|Love notes from children.|
|Love notes to each other.|
|Pretty flowers designed by S's oldest sister, Aunika.|
|Maybe this is my child's namesake.|
|Nephews x 2.|
|I'll fly away, oh glory.|
|Farewell car ride.|