We made it through a horrible four days. The worst was Sunday - the visitation, with an open casket. It was unreal - Ryan looked like he could just take a breath and sit up. The sobs coming from his friends, however, were very real. It was just so heart wrenching to witness the grief in that room. One thing we noticed is that like ourselves, many parents had accompanied their teenagers to the visitation. Of course, we all wanted to pay our respects to Ryan's family, but we needed to be there for our kids. It was all so, so sad. And what made me feel incredibly bad for Ryan's dad was something he said to Max as we were leaving the visitation - he asked Max to write down all of his memories of Ryan because he realized that he didn't know Ryan very well. Which fits with what Max has told me several times over the past few years...that Ryan didn't have a good relationship with his dad. At those times, I chalked it up to normal teenager/parent conflict, and figured that with time, they would develop a better relationship. Now, unfortunately, that will never happen.
Before the funeral services began, they had a picture slide show. It was hard to see Ryan as a toddler, wearing the same Oshkosh overalls that Max did. Playing with the same Little Tykes toys. T-ball and soccer, swimming...all the things little boys did growing up. I have a lot of empathy for Ryan's family. It is just so wrong to lose your child like this.
Max made it through the funeral better than the visitation, and, as a pallbearer, helped to carry his friend's casket to the grave site. Some words were spoken, and the boys all removed their red rose boutonnieres and placed them on top of the casket. They hugged Ryan's family once again and then gathered outside of the tent. As the minutes went by, Jeff and I observed them going from solemn to quietly talking to gentle laughter...and that was when we knew that they were moving on to the acceptance part of grieving. Max later told us that they started talking about what Ryan would have hated about his funeral (the country singer with the guitar) and from that moved onto funny stories about him.
Max will be ok. I think his friends will be ok. But I hope they never have to go through something like this again.