Yesterday, April and I along with an amazing turnout of friends and family celebrated Patrick's life with a traditional Catholic Funeral Mass. The church was decorated beautifully with flowers that were sent from friends as well as two displays of Patrick's short life.
April and I selected the following readings which were read by my brothers, Matthew and Christopher as well as the gospel reading:
First Reading: Psalm 139 1-10, 13-18
Second Reading: Ephesians 3: 14-19
Gospel: Mark 10: 13-16
Following the Gospel, Father Jude gave a very heartfelt and inspiring Homily that I am sure touched every single person in attendance.
My sister, Rebecca, then read the general intercessions which included a prayer for baby Savannah. The gifts were brought up by Rebecca (my sister), Laurie and Jeannette (our sister-in-laws).
After communion, I had the opportunity to explain Patrick's life and the impact that it had on both April and I. As I walked to the podium, I asked Patrick to give me strength and then I struggled through the following:
Isaiah 41: 10 states the following, “so do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
A father should not be speaking at his son’s funeral, yet here I am. Patrick’s life is one I must explain and April and I have things to say and I am going to try and say them today. I do have help though in the event that I cannot continue.
April and I have shed many tears this week and there will be many more in the coming weeks and months. A teardrop is a symbol of love and it is OK to cry so feel free to let it out.
April and I want to thank all of you for being here today. You honor Patrick by your presence. We wish that we could personally thank each and every one of you for all of the love and support you have provided to us over the past week.
Patrick’s short time with us impacted so many people and I want to thank you for celebrating his life today. The items that we have displayed are not a true representation of who Patrick really was. We wish that all of you could have met him to fully understand the impact of his short life. The nurses liked to call him their big boy in a little boy’s body. Apparently, Patrick did not know that he was born at less than 2 pounds.
I could talk about how unjust this is or how unfair Patrick’s death is to our entire family but instead I would like to focus on what Patrick meant to us and what he taught us.
We view today as a day to celebrate. We are celebrating the life of a child that the Lord gave to us to enjoy for 25 short days. Patrick allowed us to love like we have never loved before and we enjoyed every single minute of it.
Patrick taught us so much during the time that he was with us as well as the 31 weeks that he was growing inside of April. At 21 weeks, the doctors said he was not viable so he continued to fight and survive. At 22 weeks the doctors discovered that Patrick had restricted blood flow and that he was not growing very much but he persevered and continued to survive. Around this time, the doctors wanted to write Patrick off and focus on Savannah but April and I would not accept that and neither would Patrick. For 9 weeks, Patrick battled through the restricted blood flow and continued to gain weight. The final three weeks of the pregnancy, Patrick gained 5 ounces which was significant progress for him and allowed him to be born weighing 1 lb 7 ounces instead of 1 lb 2 ounces. It was during these nine weeks that Patrick taught us the meaning of perseverance as well as the will to succeed.
When Patrick was born, we heard his cry and April and I cried tears of joy. For 25 days, Patrick did not have any major issues but then the day came that the Lord decided to make him an angel and on Sunday, November 30, 2008 April and I held our precious baby boy for the last time.
I can tell you that there is nothing sadder than the death of a child. When we lose a parent, we lose a piece of our past. When we lose a child, we lose a piece of our future.
Although April and I did not willingly give up Patrick, his life and death gave us new meaning to the sacrifice God made when he gave up his only Son so that we could have eternal life.
We know that Patrick has been granted eternal life and is now with God and one day when the time is right we will meet our son again at the gates of heaven.
April and I would like to ask all of you a favor. When you leave here today and return to your homes, turn off your TV’s, turn off your computers and your cell phones and spend some time with your children. Take a bike ride with them or throw the ball with them tomorrow. Squeeze them a little tighter when you hug them, tuck them in a little more when you put them to bed and most importantly love them and tell them how much they mean to you. April and I would give anything to have one more day to touch and hold Patrick but that is not possible so make sure that you make your days count.
This evening, April and I are going to see Savannah and we are going to tell her how much she is loved by us and how special her big brother was. We are going to tell her that Patrick is her personal Angel and that he will always be looking over his twin sister.
In closing, I would like to end in a poem titled “He Only Took My Hand”
“Last night while I was trying to sleep,
My son's voice I did hear,
I opened my eyes and looked around,
But he did not appear.
He said: "Dad you've got to listen,
You've got to understand
God didn't take me from you, dad
He only took my hand.
When I called out in pain that night,
The instant that I died,
He reached down and took my hand,
And pulled me to His side.
He pulled me up and saved me
From the misery and pain.
My body was hurt so badly inside,
I could never be the same.
My search is really over now,
I've found happiness within,
All the answers to my empty dreams
And all that might have been.
I love you all and miss you so,
And I'll always be nearby.
My body's gone forever,
But my spirit will never die!
And so, you must all go on now,
Live one day at a time.
God did not take me from you,
He only took my hand."
April, thank you for giving me two beautiful children!
And thank you Patrick! Thank you for being the joy of mine and your mother’s life.
Thank you for all that attended yesterday and thank you to all that took a moment out of your day to pray for us at 11:00 AM.
Patrick & April