Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Time to 'Do it Your Way' Jezz

Although there was much to be done, the arrangements were being left to my inestimable family. Damian (always the 'rock' of the family) and Tyneal had the experience. Megan, in charge of music, was determined to make it a celebration to be remembered, just as Jezz would have wanted. When she suggested the venue should accommodate between 200 to 300 people, I questioned her. After all, Jeremy had only returned to live in Victoria more than 12 months after my Breast Ca diagnosis in 2003. Megs said 'Ma, have you forgotten what it is like to have Jezz around?' Even writing this entry brings with it a feeling of contentment; being with Jezz allowed me to be the person I most wanted to be. I began to wonder what it was like for others mourning their loss. His appeal had nothing to do with the way he looked, or the clothes he wore. It was simply his presence and, of course, the smile.

Damian approached Tobin Bros, appealing to them to allow him to collect Jeremy's body from Bairnsdale. He received an emphatic 'NO!' Definitely not! They did agree to allow management to make the decision and, given Damian's work record, as well as the circumstances, it was decided that both Damian and Tyneal would make the journey. I think I actually said somewhere that Tyneal was already undergoing training at the Victorian Police Academy. That is not right as they made the journey together. Thankfully, only a couple of years before, Damian had earned the nomination of 'Employee of the Year' and had won the award. He was held in high regard. Knowing that the accident that took his brother's life had been horrific, he was concerned about what it would be like for him to view his 'bro.' It was a big ask! He need not have worried. Haydn and I drove Damian's car, while he and Tyneal collected the work van. We set off on a journey to Bairnsdale; a journey that no family member should have to make.

Somehow the pain of writing this is overcome by the joy of knowing that Jezz was in good hands. Damian took with him Jeremy's Snoop Dogg CD's. I can imagine Jeremy's amusement as it would not be DJ's choice of music. What a ride the return journey to Melbourne would be. Damian had chosen a close personal friend at Tobin Bros to prepare the body for viewing; he wanted that for his brother.

Before we arrived in Bairnsdale I made a call to Brad Bennett, devoted Father to my granddaughter Ella. Although Megan and Brad are no longer together I asked Brad if he would consider singing at the service. I had always let Brad know that I would like him to sing at my own funeral. I would not have believed it possible; here I was asking  the same for my son. Brad's choice was 'Time of Your Life' by Green Day. Perfect!

Somehow, it was essential to ensure the message going to the young people at the service was about LOVE and HOPE.
Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received - only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage... St Francis of Assisi
Although I am a devoted Catholic I chose the Riviera Christian Centre as the venue. I wanted, as much as possible to keep this 'A Family Affair' therefore Tyneal's Dad, Mark, A Civil Celebrant, would perform the service. As a member of the Charismatic Renewal, I knew  it would be possible for me to arrange with Father Tony Brady to lay Jeremy's body to rest in the Catholic tradition. God willing, that would be done on our arrival back in Newcastle. It would not be the first time we had chosen to 'think outside the square' for Jezz.

Megan's choice for the music for the Audio Visual display was 'Forever Young' by Youth Group while Claire agreed to sing 'You Are the Sunshine of my Life,' secure in the knowledge that Jeremy was all of that, and more to me.

My amazing family ensured that we did indeed celebrate Jeremy's life. On 28 November 2006 we managed to do just that, knowing that we had a lifetime to mourn our loss. As I complete this post I want nothing more than to express my love and gratitude to Damian/Tyneal and Megan for undertaking the arrangements. Although four years have now passed I know the value in voicing love and appreciation as we never know what each new day brings. 'We know not the time or the place.' With breaking hearts they made the arrangements that allowed me the freedom to listen to the messages that came into my head as Jeremy entered the final stage of his journey into Eternal Life. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been.

Was it another coincidence that we were able to use family and friends for many parts of the service? In spite of the pain of our loss we knew Jezz better than anybody else thus allowing us, in many ways, to stamp 'his' name on the service.

I remember a woman walking up to me with, what turned out to be her daughter. She explained that she did not know my son but she wanted to thank him, through me, for giving her daughter back her life. It seems to me that there is something special about the young who are destined for a better place. They leave this earth having made a difference.

Have you ever had a son who meant the world to you?
One you loved so very much, and miss him like I do.
Have you ever felt the heartache, or even nursed the pain?
Have you ever shed the tears that drop like falling rain?
If you've never had those feelings, then pray you never do
For on the day that Jezza left me, a part of me went too
Love you Sunshine. Miss you with every heartbeat..



Kaz said...

Chez you are one amazing lady,know with writng this has to come with many tears and also loads of memories.Chez i hold you and Jezza in my heart always. I know this month is extra hard for you,gentle hugs my friend.Jezz & Kassie wrap there angel wings around you.

Love always,Kaz..xoxo

Diane Rodgers said...

Dearest Cheryl,

Your writing today has taken me back to that time with our Matthew.... the tears run as I read your beautiful words for Jeremy and the love felt by so many for him.

I admire your strength and courage to be with it enough to make decisions for Jeremy's service. It sounds like it couldn't have been more personal and a true testiment of his life and a celebration of the joy he brought to all who knew him.

May this hardest of months bring to you special visits from your special Angel....May God bring you His comfort as only He can do. May we all live as you described above...not what we receive but what we give....

You are one special lady Cheryl, your son, Jeremy learned well from his precious Mum...Now the two of you reach out and down to many others to help us along the way.

With much love and yes... gratitude...


nancyspoint said...

Chez, I am sorry for your continuing heartache that I know will never end. This month must be especially painful, but I'm glad to learn that your family was such a help to you four years ago and that they continue to be. Jeremy must have been a very special young man. Very touching poem that says it all really.

Beth L. Gainer said...

Beautiful posting, Chez. I am so very sorry for your loss, and I know the anniversary of your special son's death must be so very hard to bear.

I'm glad that you have a great support system through your family.

My thoughts are with you.

BreastCancerSisterhood.com said...

Chez, I hope your writing is therapeutic for you, and that it continues to help you work through your grief. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a child. He was a special man and he got much of those qualities from you.

I send you lots of love. Oh, I left you a note on my blog this week.


Sean said...

God bless your wonderful family for all they were able to accomplish through their own grief. Damian...truly your "rock". The grief of others is something we aren't very capable of dealing with when we are in the shock stage. Later we realize, and sometimes feel remorse at being so immersed ourselves that we are not able to provide support to anybody else...we are just surviving at the time. As difficult as it was to recount that time in your life, I am sure you do feel the warmth of love and appreciation for those who remain to share in grieving the loss of your beautiful Jeremy.
When I read of your special attachment to Jeremy and his being the "light of your life" in so many ways, my heart breaks for you Cheryl, as Kim's relationship with Damon was the same...the loss so immeasurable.
I thank God that he has surrounded you with such incredible people for the journey you must endure.

Maundering mutterer said...

You're right! Memorial is about celebrating someone's life. The St Francis quote: nothing could be more perfect.

diane b said...

It must have eased the burden having all those family members who could help with the funeral. It sounded like a great celebration of life. My neighbours also lost their son while driving from here to Melbourne about the same time as you. It is so sad to see young people
lose their life. BTW we are trying to fit as much into our lives before we can't anymore. So many of our friends like you have been halted in their tracks with illnesses. Our turn will come.

Cheryl said...

Kaz, thanks for always being the first one to visit. Knowing we are not alone makes a huge difference. Angel hugs back at you sweetie xoxo

Cheryl said...

Thanks Di
I am not sure where the strength came from as I know that even with the Grace of God, I am still human. I did allow myself to collapse completely as I followed the casket from the church and was carried by Haydn and Dinky Di who was 'Another Mother' to Jezz.
There are so many memories for all of us and I am reminded that we gain strength from each other.
My love and gratitude to you my friend xoxo

Cheryl said...

Nancy, Jezz was very much like his Dad. The only person he ever hurt was himself. He was certainly loved by all. I am so very proud that I was chosen to be him Mum.
As hard as it is, life does go on.
Love and gratitude to you xo

Cheryl said...

Beth, my family were truly marvellous. I could not have done it without them. It is the one time that I was very grateful that Damian and Tyneal both worked in the funeral industry.
Love and gratitude always

Cheryl said...

Brenda my friend I can say, with absolute certainty, I am who I am because of my beautiful angel. He came to teach me unconditional love which has helped me so much to endure the pain of my loss.
As you know, got the note and cried and cried as testified to in the next post.
Bless you for all that you have become to me xo

Cheryl said...

Sean, as usual I have come to rely on the wisdom of your words my special friend. From our friendship you have learned how close Jezz and I are. Knowing that Kim and Damon share such a bond is a blessing to me; I was not aware of that. I am sure, just as you and I have discovered, she has found ways to live with her grief.
It is interesting to compare the grief journey with my cancer journey. If the feelings are not expressed they poison us from the inside. I am concerned that is a real possibility for me. Even now.
I am so grateful to you my friend. You mean the world to me.

Cheryl said...

Mm I love quotes and finding the 'right' ones to express myself are part of the journey.

Cheryl said...

Diane my family were/are absolutely brilliant and I could not speak highly enough of them. They made the service a celebration of Jeremy's life.
I am sure you have watched your neighbours and understand how difficult the journey is.
I love to follow your travels and admire you and B for making the most of your time. Keep on keeping on.
It has been