November 14th, the day we had to say good-bye to our beloved Big Bubby, my baby I had grown up with. I remember most of the day as being numb. Maybe that is my mind protecting me from the harsh memories and reality of the setting, I am not sure but I know that there were hundreds of people who showed up to say good-bye to my baby. As you read on, know there will be some tears and some laughter at things that happened throughout the day.
I have never been one to care what I look like and have never liked to be the center of attention. I knew that this day, between Cowgirl and I, we would be the center of attention regarding Big Bubby for the entire day. What I do remember about that day is getting up and and thinking I have to try and look the best I can. The person who has done my families hair since the kids were in junior high, we will call her Hair Queen, had continuously asked what she could do to help. I, being in no mental capacity to answer, said, make sure I look presentable for the visitation and the funeral. So as sweet as she is, she came to the house on Friday night, fixed my hair and make up, and again on Saturday morning showed up with her little one in tow and did it again. The little things that were done for us like this that people have no idea how much it helped us through, will not be forgotten. Hair Queen’s little girl at the visitation was looking at the flowers around the casket and started picking at them. I thought Hair Queen was going to flip out, I looked at her with tears streaming down my face and said, you know Big Bubby is behind her saying “pick that one” no “pick this one” no, “go over here and grab this one”….that is just the type of humor my boy had. Even in the darkest hours he would find a way to make us smile and laugh.
The funeral was at 10 AM so T wanted us there around 9:30 AM. Our Red Headed Step Child had lent us his new truck to drive with the flag that Big Bubby always flew on special days in the bed of the truck. My husband, Million Dollar Brother, Baby Sis, and I loaded up in the truck for what was going to be the toughest, longest day of our lives.
When we arrived at the funeral home a few minutes later, people were already starting to arrive. I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle all the attention and people wanting to speak to me. I had asked my husband’s best friend to play blocker for me when I got overwhelmed. If he saw me getting that way, he would come get me. To him I am grateful because I wouldn’t have been able to say I needed air to some of the folks who walked up to me.
The family was kept somewhat secluded from the rest of the crowd coming in so that we weren’t overwhelmed. While we were waiting for the funeral to start, they played a video that we had put together that week of pictures of Big Bubby, Million Dollar Brother, Baby Sis, and Cowgirl along with friends from high school and his band of military brothers. It was set to the song “One Hell of an Amen” which fit Big Bubby perfectly.
When it was time to go in, we all held on to each other for support and started the silent walk into the chapel. Big Bubby looked beautiful sitting in front of everyone. He would have never wanted to be the star of attention (comes by that honestly from me) but T and his family did my son proud that day.
As the funeral drew to a close, T was supposed to have a flag ready to drape over Big Bubby’s casket to leave the chapel and go to the cemetery. He realized at the last minute that he didn’t have the flag ready. (Insert Big Bubby messing with us on the day we bury him). So T gets up in a rush, his son tells him the honor guard is still there to ask them to do it. So T grabs them and tells them the situation and that they can just fold the flag in fourths and take it in that way. The honor guard said no, they would fold the flag properly and unfold it when they got in the chapel. As they ran down the hall to take my son out, the minister was finishing his prayer. They walked in as professionals that they are, with no one ever knowing until weeks later what had happened (thank you Big Bubby for giving T a heart attack before we left the service). I wish he could have met Big Bubby to know what kind of person he was then the flag would have made all kinds of sense to T.
We didn’t know how many would go to the graveside. Most people only go to the service. It was nice to see those who served in the military and were there in their uniforms salute Big Bubby as we pulled out of the chapel that day. As we began the few miles to the cemetery it began to come clear that those who were at the chapel for the service were following to the cemetery. We guessed, as none of us were for sure, there was probably a mile and a half to two mile long line of cars following us. What a tribute to the short life my son lived to how many people’s lives he had touched. Again, Big Bubby playing some of his tricks on us, our police escort which typically leads the line of cars was either at the back or middle of the line all the way through. There was only one, and by the way, was his first day on the job. He had no idea what he was supposed to be doing. T was on the phone with the county dispatcher the entire way wanting to know where the rest of our escorts were at. It was a blessing to see them at the two largest intersections to make sure there was no one injured getting to the cemetery. I am not sure if that was T’s doing or one of Big Bubby’s closest friends who is a county sheriff.
Once at the cemetery, the military band of brothers and Big Bubby’s two best friends, carried him to his final resting place. It was a surreal quiet, I don’t even remember hearing birds or cars or talking. The wind was blowing hard that day so they had to band the flag around to casket to keep it from blowing. It was a brief service and then the military portion began. Taps was played, then the two military personnel came to fold the flag. Again, Big Bubby was also there for this as well. We knew the main person, who I will call H, who would give the flag to Cowgirl. He had deployed with Big Bubby to Afghanistan and when he was called to do this, there was no question he would be there. The other person with him, had to have been new to the whole process. Every time H would give a command, left, right or whatever the poor kid turned the wrong direction. For what it was worth, it was a good quiet laugh for me and something that put me at ease as I knew Big Bubby was messing with the kid from above.
T didn’t know who H was until H turned to Cowgirl and knelt down in front of her. As he began to speak, things for T fell into place (why the honor guard had stayed at the chapel for the service was one of them). H spoke of serving with Big Bubby and how much he would be missed by all, then H told Cowgirl that on behalf of the President of the United States, he was sorry for her loss. That ended the service, now began the procession of people through to say their condolences. Once those who came through said their condolences to all, they mostly left. We had planned to do one last toast with his band of military brothers, Cowgirl, my husband, Million Dollar Brother, Baby Sis, Red Headed Step Child and Casper. There were some that stayed around and I felt uncomfortable doing this in front of them, so my niece was nice enough to politely ask everyone to give us some room. We all gathered around Big Bubby’s casket, my husband said a few words, and we all took one last shot of Jack Daniels (his favorite drink) together.
I wanted to stay and see him lowered into the vault but my husband didn’t think that was such a good idea. We also had a group of friends that was providing lunch for us after the service and he felt we needed to get to their house. It was hard for me to walk away from Big Bubby, I felt as though I was leaving him alone. At the time we purchased his plot, we had not purchased any others. So leaving him there that day, I felt like he would be there forever by himself. A day later, we went back and purchased the plot next to him, and have now purchased three more in the same row so that family, if needed, can be with him. I pray that the only other two that are buried with him are my husband and I but we now have four other plots that he will not be alone as there will be someone with him in the future.