We got in and were led to our seats. We were seated at a table with 5 other people and that's when the nerves really set in! We, er.... I, decided to take the girls with us because I wanted them to be a part of being honored as well. We asked one of the ladies at our table how long the ceremony usually lasted and she said "um, usually around 3 hours". I looked at Kyle. Kyle looked at me. I immediately wished I had left the girls with someone else. Luckily though, I made them bring along lots of entertainment and they were actually pretty good the entire time we were there. Kaitlyn had her moments, but I expected them, so we were all good.
This was the first time we had ever been to this ceremony and as our luck would have it, the director decided it would be good for each donor's name to be spoken. We were to pick one family member to go on stage and say our loved one's name. Kyle threw that responsibility onto me, but I quickly told him that there was no way I could go up in front of people and not fall to pieces. He had no choice but to go up there and say Erik's name. When the time came for that part of the ceremony, Kyle went up and got in line. He was probably the 15th or 20th person in line and there were at least 75 more people behind him. It was amazing and heartbreaking all at once.
An elderly gentleman approached the microphone and couldn't speak for crying. He held up a picture of his wife and quietly said "My loved one's name is the love of my life and my wife of 57 years...." and then said her name. That's when I lost it. I could literally feel the love he had for his wife and how broken his heart was that she had died. I noticed that Kyle was also crying. I feared that he wouldn't be able to get up on stage either, but he got himself together and through tears said "Our loved one's name is Erik Quarles. He was 5". You could hear people bawling all around us. Up until that point, all the donor's had been older. I think it kind of shocked people that we were there because our 5 year old had passed away. Sienna and Kaitlyn sensed how upset Kyle and I were and they started crying too. Sienna was almost hysterical. Kaitlyn kept saying "I want my bubby". The tables around us couldn't help but cry after hearing her crying for her brother. After everyone had a chance to speak their loved ones name, I realized that Erik was the 4th youngest donor out of all the other donors there. There was a 2.5 year old, a 3 year old, a 4 year old and then Erik - all of these children were boys.
After all the donors names were spoken, we were able to talk to the others sitting at our table. One lady was there because her brother had been an organ donor. She said that her parents had never been to a ceremony and that her dad wouldn't even visit the cemetery or speak of her brother. The other family at our table had lost a daughter/sister and mother. The mother of the daughter basically said the same thing about her husband. He not only hadn't been to a ceremony, he flat out refused to go. I looked over at Kyle and was so thankful that he was willing to be there with me to remember our boy. He rarely shows any emotions over losing Erik, but I know it hurts him like it hurts me. Men are just so different in grieving than women are. I told the 2 other families at our table what I was doing to honor Erik and keep his memory alive and they thought I was doing a great thing. I felt relieved that someone that doesn't know me or my boy thought I was doing something amazing for him. <3
We were served lunch - which was wonderful and then we headed back up the road. I told Kyle that since we were already in Columbia that we should just make a day of it. We took the girls to Edventure and they had a ball. I had promised them that we would stop by Columbiana Centre (mall) and they could ride the carousel if they were good. Of course, they didn't forget, so our next stop was the mall. They had a blast spending the day with me and Kyle and I really enjoyed being silly with them. They spotted Toys R Us on the way out of the mall and were quite upset that Kyle wouldn't take them before we went home. I thought it was hilarious when they told Kyle that he wasn't any fun and that if I was driving I would've taken them. LOL
Anyway - Saturday was a good day and I'm so thankful that I finally had something to smile about without being forced to. Here are some pictures from the day....
|Bagpipes opened the ceremony up|
|Medal for Erik for being a donor; Program with Erik's name in it; Irish Poem|
|Sitting on the firetruck at EdVenture|
|My little fireman at EdVenture|
|Sienna had a FIT to sit on the Big Green Tractor|
|Mini grocery store at EdVenture|
|GIANT playground inside this guy!|
|listening to her puppy's heart beat|
|putting her puppy back into his kennel|