We’ve all heard stories about people having experiences with angels on Earth. I’m a believer, but had never truly had the experience.
On June 16, 2018, we met someone who I am certain was put in place as our angel on Earth.
Her name is Emily.
As we sat in the trauma room, on June 15th, in shock, weeping over our precious, lifeless girl, a kind social worker, who had been with us earlier, entered our room again with tears streaming down her face. She apologized for what she was about to ask us, but began explaining that she needed a few pieces of information, one being our choice of a funeral home.
My God, here we are giving information on a location for our baby girl’s dead body to be cared for and prepared for the next phase of this nightmare. What the hell is happening here?!
My initial thought was “close to home” – so I blurted out the name of a funeral home that is right down the street from our house. I wanted minimal time in the car and minimal effort in doing anything – somehow in that moment, I thought geography would alleviate a burden. Hank nodded in agreement. (At this point, I’m not sure he was even able to speak, nor did he care where we would endure what was to come in the following days. I totally understood.)
A short time later, after answering a few more grueling but necessary questions, I had a vision of me driving Addy and Sydney to school each day, knowing I’d be passing that funeral home. “Wait, I need to change the funeral home!” I explained the reason to Hank and he wholeheartedly shared in my concern. We chose a different location, one that I could always avoid, if necessary.
Later that afternoon, I received a call from the newly chosen funeral home. On the other end of the phone was a kind, gentle voice, offering her condolences and asking to schedule a time to meet the very next day. I remember hearing her but not connecting what was really happening. I was so confused on what we were experiencing that her voice almost sounded far away, echoing, like we were talking through a cave. I focused on the logistics, answered her questions, chose a time, and we hung up.
The hours leading up to our 1:00pm meeting the next day, were brutal. I felt anxiety like I had never felt before.
Hank and I drove to the funeral home in silence, holding hands tightly, with tears streaming down our faces. We stumbled out of his truck, confused and nauseous, and walked through the heavy double doors towards a person, a stranger, entrusted to care for the body of our sweet Norah.
At that very moment, I looked into the tearful eyes of an angel.
She introduced herself as Emily. She embraced us, as if she was Norah’s caregiver, or teacher, or friend. (I believe she was all of those.) As she hugged me, I instantly felt my body melt into hers and some unexpected sense of relief took over.
Norah’s Godparents, “Uncle Dave and Aunt Victoria” joined us for this “event” to help support us and hold us up, as we answered the hardest questions of our lives. Emily embraced them, as well, and offered her heartfelt condolences.
The five of us sat in a quiet office for almost three hours, talking, planning, crying, breathing, and even laughing at one point. Emily was meticulous in fulfilling each and every one of our wishes, wishes we didn’t even know we had.
When it was time for us to leave, I remember asking Emily if she was scheduled to work on the dates/times we had chosen for Norah’s viewing and funeral. Her reply was, “it doesn’t matter, I will be here.”
A few days later, when it was time to begin the funeral viewings, Emily was at the door, again with arms wide open, to lead Hank and me into the room in which our precious Norah lay. As we walked in, I could not believe my eyes. She had set this place up in a way that felt as close to “home” as I could have imagined. Everything in that room had Norah’s life “written” all over it.
She gently placed each of the items we gave to her. She had Norah’s nightlight/sound machine playing the lullaby that put her to sleep each night. Her husband took two videos I had sent to her, and streamed them to play continuously, on a large screen for all to see. Emily did everything and more to honor Norah’s life, and to make our family as comfortable as possible.
As our girls entered the funeral home, she instantly connected with them, gave them a special message from God (with our permission), and shared a bond that I have no explanation for.
She checked on us multiple times a day, to ensure us that she was caring for our baby and leaving her nightlight/music on for her at night, after we all left the funeral home. She transformed prayer cards into something perfect to remember Norah by, quotes from one of our favorite books, “On the Night You Were Born”.
She refused to let Norah’s casket be carried by a hearse, but instead sat in the back seat of a car and held our baby, and her casket, on her lap.
She blew kisses to us as that car pulled away from the church, after the funeral, as our sweet girl laid on her lap.
She gifted us with Norah’s favorite angel bear (given to her exactly 2 months before her death, on her Baptism day), transformed into something that could hold her remains, so we could keep her close forever.
I told Emily’s boss that Norah will never experience Christmas morning, or a birthday, or the first day of school, or a prom, or graduation, or her wedding day. But Emily made it so that Norah’s funeral was big enough and personal enough to fulfill those many missed events in one “celebration” of her life.
Emily is truly our angel on Earth.
(I no longer feel the need to avoid the funeral home. Afterall, it is where we released one angel to Heaven and gained another here on Earth.)