Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Part 1: "The Casket"
I will need to break up the posts about Rowan's memorial service, burial, and celebration of life. First, because there is so much to share, but also in order for me to be able to get through each post emotionally. Please bear with me. This is the story surrounding Rowan's beautiful casket.
First let me say that child size caskets are quite literally heart-breaking. They are too small. It does not compute that a lifeless body should be in something that size. Children that size should be running, jumping, playing and laughing.
But, when your child dies...you have to get past that mentality. You simply just have to.
The thought of going and selecting a casket for Rowan made me want to pass out. I didn't know how I would ever be able to do it.
Thank God for Trey Ganem, with Trey Ganem Designs.
Trey is an extremely talented artist who designs, paints and creates the most beautifully unique, personalized caskets, not just for adults, but also for children. The caskets he designs for children, are his passion, his talent, his gift from God. He does these, quite often on a pay it forward system, accepting donations towards the next family to lose a child. He did Jalene's beautiful "Frozen" themed casket, and then did Julian's awesome "Captain America" themed casket less than a month later. He had also followed Rowan for some time, and felt connected to him because they both shared a similar gift...a God given gift of helping people who have lost loved ones. Rowan was able to see his friends in Heaven and give messages to their parents. Trey has the gift of "Letting Souls Shine".
Both, help bridge that gap between Heaven and Earth for those of us who are grieving. Trey offered to do Rowan's casket and I immediately took him up on it. Not only had I seen his craftsmanship and loved it, but I also knew he would be led to create a perfect "Rowan" casket. Something I could not do at the time. I only gave Trey a few notes... I wanted it to include: "hope", "Let me live, that I may praise you" Psalm 119:175, and "Love your Life!", and I told him that everyone knew Rowan loved, and was often referred to as, Iron Man. Otherwise, I told him I trusted him and to please run with it. He told me that he already had a lot of ideas and told me how very special this one was going to be for him. From there, I tried to put it out of my mind. I trusted him, and I just couldn't think about it anymore.
When I finally went to Olinger-Saenz Mortuary to meet Trey, as he delivered the casket for Rowan's body...my knees were buckling, my stomach was turning, I honestly did not even want to walk in. At the last minute, as Zoe and I walked in the front door and Trey pulled around back to bring in the casket, I looked at Zoe and said, "I can't do this. Let's go." We knew we couldn't do that though, so we continued.
Meeting Trey, immediately my nerves calmed. I felt a peace fall over me, God's peace. I knew and felt that he was proud and comfortable of what he had created for Rowan, and I knew without a doubt that it was God-led. He walked us to the back. Zoe and I both burst into tears. You just can't help but do so, when you see a small casket, built for your child, your little brother. But my tears were not all tears of sadness. I was also awestruck.
It was PERFECT. In every way. It had Rowan's name, his verse, his favorite quote, and it was Iron Man themed. But, beyond that, it had the most beautiful selection of our favorite photos of Rowan all along an old timey film strip that ran along the base of the casket. All his best poses. All him shining alone, except for my favorite picture of him and Jalene. It had a perfect orange sky atop the casket too. It was PERFECT. It was so sad...but it was so perfect. I don't really know how to explain the feelings I was feeling. The worst pain ever, combined with the comfort and joy of his life truly being captured in this timeless functional piece of art.
I remember that I initially thought, "this is too pretty to be put in the ground". Then I immediately corrected my thoughts, saying, "I wouldn't have him buried in anything less beautiful though".
Trey, during my darkest of times...during a time when I had no energy or creativity to contribute to this endeavor...you picked up all the slack. God enabled you to give my son the most beautifully perfect representation of his life...during his death. I could not ask for anything more.
Trey knew that we had planned for a closed casket, because of all that Rowan endured during his two transplants and as he battled at the end. We wanted people to remember the Rowan we all knew and loved... the happy, thin, smiley, freckle faced, red-head who was so full of life. So Trey made this board that was inlaid into the inside top of Rowan's casket. One that we could remove prior to his service if we chose to do so, and keep it in our family. So thoughtful of him...
Rowan was already in Heaven, we have no doubt about that. But his body went into the ground...into complete darkness forever (his body)...in a gorgeous, bright, orange sky, Iron Man, casket with a film highlight reel of his life surrounding it. God bless you for what you did for Rowan and our family Trey. God bless you for what you do for countless others.
If anyone else feels led to donate to Trey's cause...he does accept donations, and uses them to "pay it forward" to families in need, who are facing sudden loss and the astronomical cost of burying their children. If you would like to donate to Trey Ganem Designs in Rowan's memory please reach out to him at one of the numbers below or visit his website http://www.treyganemdesigns.com/.