I attended a funeral today for the son of one of my co-workers.
Actually, Brian is more than a co-worker. He's a long-time friend too -- one I've known for about 17 years. We lived in the same dorm building at UAH. We both majored in communication arts and had many of our classes together -- including the dreaded CM 431, where we wrote and defended our theses. We were in PRCA together. He drove me home safely the first time I was ever drunk (something he has delighted in reminding me about for years -- if only I could find a picture of him from back when he had his big mane of hair). I started working at al.com, and when a new internship opened up there a few months later, I pointed Brian toward it and our editor-in-chief scooped him right up. We've been among the steadfast members of the company, working together for over a decade.
Brian's daughter Taylor is about a year older than Emily. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had their second child in September -- a boy they named Keith. I only met him once, when they brought him by to visit the office one afternoon, and he was a sweet little baby.
This past Thursday night, we got a call at home from al.com's office manager telling us that Keith had died. He'd stopped breathing and was rushed to Children's Hospital, but doctors were unable to save him. He was just over two months old.
The funeral was not what I expected. Brian and Elizabeth seemed to be holding up amazingly well, but I have no doubt they're a wreck on the inside. My guess is that with Taylor to consider, they have to be strong for her sake. Seeing Keith's coffin didn't even effect me that much -- it was so tiny, it just didn't seem real. Instead, looking at Taylor was what made me choke up.
I can't conceive what it would be like to experience the death of one's own child -- probably the most horrible thing ever -- but it seems even worse with another child in the picture. Not only are you going through torment that you wouldn't wish upon anyone, but your child -- the one you want to protect from all harm -- is experiencing it too. Thinking about my own girls, you may as well cut one of them in half as take away the other forever. They're inseperable, even if they don't act like it all the time.
It may sound odd, but I don't grieve for Keith. I know he's OK. It's Brian, Elizabeth, and Taylor that have my prayers. I hope they can find strength in their faith. From what I know of them, they will.