Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Celebrating Life

Briar's Life Celebration was Thursday after he passed away, September 16th. I made it a small get together, because Brandon and I thought that lots of people would feel obligated to come and support if it were just an open invitation event.  We just invited the people who came to the love shower and a couple others. There were many others who should have been invited, but I didn't even look over the guest list.  I should have. If you really cared, and you wanted to come but didn't know if you were invited, I'm sorry. I really wanted people who cared to be there, but I didn't want anyone to feel like they NEEDED to come to show us they cared.  But I can think of about 10 people right off the top of my head, family included, who I probably should have told about it.  We didn't tell extended family for the same reason, as we didn't want anyone to feel obligated to come out for a very informal event.  But I should have.  Don't be mad...I delegated the inviting to friends because I didn't want to think about things like that. I wanted to celebrate. Selfish? :) maybe. Understandable? I hope so.

Anyway, we celebrated his life by having a sweet little ceremony.  We didn't want to do it in a church, because it seemed too serious.  Our church is fun, and real, but it has an heir of serious-ness to it.  I wanted this to be a time where people would feel comfortable, even if they weren't comfortable in a church.  I wanted it to be relaxed.  I wanted it to be 'fun' feeling.  We were celebrating my child's new home in heaven.  I know to many people that seems weird to "celebrate" it.  But I have grieved. I continue to grieve MY loss. But it is not a loss to the kingdom of heaven, it is a GAIN.

Because we knew about Briar's prognosis, we wanted to be intentional about the celebration.  We didn't plan a ton of details in advance, but I knew the idea of what I wanted. I gave a vision to several of my sweet friends, and they did exactly what my mind was thinking.  We wanted it to be on the water.  We love to go boating (almost every weekend), so we knew this would be a great place to have the celebration.  We looked at a couple places while I was pregnant.  There is an island called two tree island on the lake near our house. It has a cross on it, and two trees.  We thought it might be fun to ferry everyone out there on pontoon boats and make it a very relaxed environment.  But we didn't want it to be too much logistically.  So we decided to do it at the Columbus Boat Club.  This is where we put our boat in the water and it is sort of a peninsula out on the water.  We found a beautiful pine needle path leading down to a little overlook on the water.  The guys had to do some cleaning out...taking a stump out with a chainsaw.  It literally took all day one day. But it was one of those guy things that guys really enjoyed doing.  I found myself feeling scared that Brandon was going out with a chainsaw...there are some new fears after losing a child that I will lose others I am close to. But that is for another day..

 I was thinking of tissue paper balls to line the pine needle path as well as to be hung in front above where our pastor would stand.  My friend Rebecca made the tissue paper balls. When she asked if 12 was enough, and I said No (I was in labor with no medicine when she asked, I can't help my jerkiness) and so my friend Noelle stepped in to help make some extras.  When I asked my sweet friend Kathryn if she could put together a program, she stepped up and did something amazing. She found out what colors I was picturing (teal, red and white) and she incorporated them into the program.  She used acid free cardstock (that will not deteriorate over the years, so important to me...) she got the sweet feet picture from Jess, and she even incorporated ribbon that was polka dots and ric rac (from the blog name)....talk about DETAILS!!!! I was told that in the assembly line she put together to make the programs (THANK YOU Karlissa and Kelsey and anyone else who helped!!), she made them rub the outside of the programs with a sparkle stamp pad so that it looked worn and weathered in a beautiful way.  I'm telling you that they thought of everything.

Not to mention Kathryn also stepped up to sing. ( I linked to her adorable bag store, which I will do a whole separate post about!!!) I told her when we first started thinking about doing the celebration that I wanted her to sing.  She has the most magical voice. She sings worship at our church and she also sang at the Love Shower.  (She didn't perform at the love shower, she just sang for a moment to close the prayers..)  Anyway, she asked what we wanted her to sing and I told her to be thinking of something.  I'm not a music person, she is :) So she told me about the song Glory Baby.  I didn't listen to it for a long time. I don't know why.  But when I finally did, right before we had Briar, Brandon and I were both crying.  It speaks about him arriving in heaven before we do.  It's true.  It's a beautiful song.  She sang it with our friend Jeffrey, who also leads worship at Mychurch.  All of us were looking out at the water as they sang.  It was just a beautiful moment.

We had two friends read verses that were dear to us.  Verses that had comforted us through this time.
Sorry Becs, I know you won't like this :)  It's hard not to cry when we've walked through so much together...

Our pastor spoke briefly.  It was sweet.  It shared what we know about Briar.  He is made whole. He knows ALL THINGS from the beginning to the end.  More than his parents know.  And he is going to be there waiting when we arrive. That is special.  Also, that his short time on this earth was marked with so much.  Not that you can ever "rejoice" when someone dies, because it pains our human souls, but I would say it was as close to "rejoicing" as you could get...to feel complete in our pain.

At the end I wanted people to pray.  To pray for themselves, for Briar, for our family, for us.  When they finished I wanted them to let a balloon go. So they would go one at a time...but sometimes in bunches.  My family all prayed together (my mom,dad,mom in law, dad in law and b and I) and then let ours go.  It was special.  Our friend Ian played the song "I'll fly away"...it seemed fitting...and being the song that played as Briar left our arms that Monday...it was just the right thing to play.  He wasn't able to sing very loud because we ended up having a pseudo receiving line.  We didn't even have one of those at our wedding....but people wanted to come up and hug us as they went to cut balloons loose. That was fine.  But it wasn't how we intended it.  It's funny how so many things in life just aren't as we intended them...but they are still just as special, if not more, than you planned.

Then we cooked out.  As the sun went down.  I wish I would have taken some pictures of the beautiful sunset on the water. It was so awesome.  And perfect.

 Of course Jess, my sweet friend took most of these pictures. SHe is AMAZING.  You already know that.  You should use her to take your pictures.
I hope you are having a great week, I just wanted to share.


  1. B, thank you so much for sharing this with us. I am so so sad that I couldn't be there.

    loveyou so much.

  2. thank you for sharing this! everything was beautiful :) He knew the intended plan! hugs

  3. wow, here I am crying again but at the same time so grateful to how good Jesus is and how sweet he has been to you during this time. what a special way to celebrate your baby and see his purpose in it all.

  4. I am so glad you took the time to post this....the celebration looks and sounds beautiful

  5. Brooke, I just want you to know I love you. Your strength and grace continues to amaze me! I am so honored that I was a part of Briar's sweet celebration. I am sorry that I couldn't keep the tears from falling.

  6. B & B - your beautiful story could be filled with such pain and grief, but you have uplifted all of us that love you with your story of FAITH, GRACE, STRENGTH, and LOVE. Thank you for sharing such an intimate, private part of your lives to help those who love you through their grief and those who "found you" learn from about the Grace of God in all things through your story with Briar. I am so proud of you all...but I am tired of crying! (Your blogs are so deeply personal and touching!) And who couldn't love those beautiful, precious baby feet (& hands)...so wonderful!
    Love you!

  7. Brooke and brandon, thank you for sharing...what a beautiful celebration! Absolutely beautiful. Congratulations on your baby boy. We continue to pray for your hearts as they cope with this loss. We pray that your hearts are comforted by the thoughts of your son rejoicing in the fellowship of the angels with Jesus. Praise God. Love you guys.

    The Baises

  8. i'm crying as i read this and thinking that little Briar was probably jumping for joy at his beautiful celebration. i couldn't picture anything more perfect to celebrate his life and the gift that he's in heaven with Jesus. what a godly example you all are. love y'all!

  9. Beautiful pictures and story to match a beautiful celebration of life, Brooke. I have been thinking of you and praying for you two during this hard time. I am so glad to see you working through your grief with others through this blog - it's quite a testimony.

  10. Brooke, I found your blog through a post you made on another friends blog. Your story and journey how open and honest you have been is just beautiful and oh how my heart breaks for the loss of your son Briar. I am just soaking it all up and the breath has been sucked out of me. I have no words to say that could ever begin to touch what you are experiencing. What a sweet blessing to CELEBRATE his life. What a gift to know that he is sitting at the Lords feet waiting for the day to see you again. Thank for allowing us to watch you walk through this journey.