How do I even begin to talk about the funeral?
I have to start by talking about those who gave of their time and resources so freely. The printers (who did an incredible job on the tri-fold programs) donated the programs because they think so highly of my parents. My brother Chad's friend did the design work. The Relief Society spent hours preparing the lunch and making the space beautiful for our family, along with providing a nursery for the littlest cousins during the funeral. And each of us spent time helping to make the funeral a way to remember Brent and his life along with a way to mourn and give peace to his family and friends.
And the result was a small space in time to focus solely on our love for our brother, our son, our uncle, cousin, grandson, friend and to celebrate his life, to remember his individuality, and to grieve for his loss.
It was not easy to say goodbye to him.
It was not easy to see him in the casket. After all, he is my little brother. He is special. I loved playing with him when he was little. I loved watching him play basketball. I loved hearing about his opinions. I loved watching him smile.
He shouldn't be gone.
While we got ready for the funeral, we found all of the mementos of his life. Chad cleaned out his apartment and brought home the odds and ends in a box. There were pictures our children had drawn for him. There were photographs of him with friends and family, and again, especially with our children. The love he had for them was so evident.
We also read his childhood journal and laughed and laughed and laughed. He was so smart and so funny and sometimes even a little full of himself (like when he talked about how he couldn't stand his school teacher because she kept going on about how smart and brilliant he was.)
So to help us, we surrounded him with all of this memorabilia, to remember how he shone, how he lit up our lives and the world around him.
And after we gathered around him and tried to acclimate to the fact that while his body was there with us, our Brent was not, we began to be surrounded by love.
Our extended family and friends streamed through the viewing room. I was overwhelmed by the show of support and love. My friends came for me (and I love you for it) and for my family. Family drove hours and hours and hours to be there. Brent's friend Matt's parents changed vacation plans and flew in to be there.
We were able to meet some of Brent's coworkers and friends, who had already begun to share their memories of Brent on the comments on my blog and on Facebook.
When the viewing had ended, we said our family goodbye to Brent and had our family prayer. And then Kurt closed the casket.
The pallbearers (the brothers, brothers-in-law and Josh) guided the casket so carefully, so gently into the chapel for the funeral and we walked behind on what felt like a long, long walk.
And the funeral began.
It was a beautiful funeral. The program went according to the program above. The cousins sounded darling, even with Josh's just-changed voice. Kurt's talk was sweet. He shared the poem on the back of the program, written by his friend Barrett, he talked about Brent's life, and about memories of our brother and his love for nature, along with passages from the Tao. The Flower Duet from Lakme was incredible. So so beautiful. Eric's talk, about the importance of family to Brent, was profound and funny. I played Brahms. My dad talked about the LDS view on the Plan of Happiness, and also shared some memories of Brent, and the funeral ended with the congregation singing "For the Beauty of the Earth."
And then it was over. We spent a while being embraced by those who came to support us. I saw friends I hadn't seen in years. My heart was overflowing.
After a beautiful lunch, and more visiting with wonderful people, along with memories of Brent from his best friend Brett and our cousins Devin and Robbie, we headed up to Palos Verdes to the cemetery.
I don't really have much I want to say about the cemetery, but here is a story to let you know how it felt.
After the dedication of the grave, we walked over to visit the graves of my grandpa, my great-grandma, and my great-grandpa. (It's somehow comforting to think of Brent near them.) At one point, someone said, "Let's take a picture of all the siblings." And all I could think was, "No. No. We're not all here. We'll never all be here again."
And then I got in the line, smiled my bravest smile, and missed Brent.