This is an experience I will NEVER forget, I will make sure of it.
Please be patient with this post, it may end up being pretty long, but I promise, it will be well worth the read (that is, if I can convey the feelings I want to).
While I was in class on Thursday, my Relief Society President called me, when I got out of class I listened to the message. She was wondering if we were going to be in town for the weekend. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I was reluctant to call her back - mostly because I have had a bad attitude lately about certain things - I didn't want to be stuck in a position of having to say yes to something I didn't want to do (see? BAD ATTITUDE) Honestly...I'm such a great person...jeez...
Luckily, I fought my initial thought and called her back. To my surprise, one of her counselors answered her phone. But she didn't answer with "Hello," she answered saying, "Karlyn! This is Vicky."
I'm not going to include the entire conversation that we had - I will remember it though - because I want to respect the privacy of our dear neighbors. During the conversation, I was told that our dear neighbors across the street had lost their sweet three year old little boy after his 27 month battle with leukemia...the day after his birthday. I was informed that the family had very specific wishes for the funeral, one being no children. And, another that they wanted my sweet ten year old Piper to sing "If I listen with my heart."
Needless to say, I LOST it.
When these neighbors first moved in, we were pretty close, we would have bar-b-ques and such. Their son was diagnosed about the same time that I started school. Life happened and we weren't as close. Our kids didn't play together as much as they used to (Piper is in the same grade as their oldest daughter and Teague is a year older than the other son). They were at the hospital a lot (most) of the time, and we are a busy family. I never knew exactly what to say to them or how to act around them. They are very private people, however, there was always this lingering guilt that I should be doing more as, not only a neighbor, but as a friend. I wouldn't say that I was a crappy neighbor, just not the best neighbor, or at least, I could have been better. I was reading some journal entries from around the time they moved in and they were mentioned as MM's more than once.
I called Aaron and through tears and sobbing told him. When I told him that they asked specifically for Piper to sing, he wasn't surprised. His exact words were, "Does it surprise you? We've always known that there is something special about her...what an honor this is."
I still couldn't figure out why in the world they wanted Piper sing. I do know that there is something special about my daughter. I do know that for a ten year old she has an incredible voice. Her poise is amazing. When she was tiny, she would cry during the sacrament hymns. But still, this was a funeral...for a three year old.
When I got home, I looked the song up on lds.org and printed a copy. I didn't even look at the words or listen to the music. I don't know why. I just didn't.
I picked the kidlets up from school and we came home. I sat them on the couch and explained what had happened. Through tears I told Piper that they asked if she would be willing to sing at the funeral...before I even finished asking, she said "of course."
Immediately, my head started spinning, I was sick to my stomach. There was no reluctance from this ten year old, not an ounce! She was going to start preparing to sing at a funeral for a three year old. I told her that I had printed the song and that it was still on the printer. She went and got it. I asked her if she knew the song. Of course, she did.
I got a hold of a dear friend of ours that is also in our ward, some of you may know her, Vicki Belnap, she is the amazingly talented choir instructor for Olympus High School. She and Piper work very well together, it is actually magical. Vicki came up with THE PERFECT way for Piper to sing this song. They practiced for about an hour on Friday, Vicki went over all of the proper breathing techniques, word pronunciations etc... and it sounded beautiful. For an hour on Saturday - before the funeral - they practiced in the chapel as I sat on the back pew listening, for some reason Piper just wasn't getting it, I sounded gorgeous, but for some reason, the feeling was a little off. Then Vicki told her to sing it like she was bearing her testimony. IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL. She was crying, but still singing, beautifully - those of you that sing, know how hard it is to sing while crying.
We got to the funeral about 15 minutes early. I was perusing the program and Piper was after two speakers. I told myself that I was NOT going to cry, I was going to be strong for Piper's sake because I knew that if she saw me crying she would cry, and I really wanted her to be able to sing well.
The family came into the chapel. My first thought was, "It's just not right for a casket to be that small." Right as I finished that thought my sweet neighbor let out a cry as she reached toward the casket.
I was able to gain my composure, I did pretty well during the speakers. Piper was crying the whole time. I kept telling her to take deep breaths and I kept saying little prayers for her.
It was her turn, Aaron scooted closer to me and whispered in my ear, "I don't think I'm gonna make it through this."
PIPER.WAS.AMAZING. It truly was THE SINGLE MOST PROFOUND experience I have had as a mother so far.
She made it through the first two versus with absolutely no problem. Her tone was perfect, she was pitch perfect and fluid.
She made it through the first two versus, but I didn't, Aaron didn't and neither did the majority of the congregation.
The third verse was not as easy as the first two. The tempo changed, she was to sing it much more softly and a bit A'Capella.
The spirit was just too strong. Stronger than I have EVER felt it in my life.
My sweet little ten year old had to pause to sob, because she too felt the spirit a little too strongly.
The Stake Primary President (who was one of the speakers - and is in our ward) went up to the pulpit to comfort Piper, it was perfect.
She may have paused, but she finished. She finished with perfect tone, pitch and poise.
I HONESTLY DON'T KNOW THE WORD.
AMAZING? INCREDIBLE? PROFOUND? BEAUTIFUL? SWEET? ANGELIC? LOVELY? MOVING? TOUCHING? PERFECT?
HELP ME OUT HERE
There was not a dry eye by the time she was done. And, I'm not lying. Even the member of the Presiding Bishopric and the General Authority that were sitting on the stand were teary-eyed.
This is the third verse
I feel the Holy Spirit as he teaches truth and right
He comforts me in times of need, (she started to cry) He testifies of Christ
He speaks to me in quiet ways that fill my soul with peace
And if I listen with my heart, I hear the saviors voice.
I still don't know the exact reason Piper was asked to sing at this funeral, I may never know. I only hope that her sweet voice and the feelings that were felt through it at the funeral were of some comfort for this wonderful family that is mourning the loss of their little angel.