Monday, 31 October 2011

Noah's Coffin

It probably seems strange for me to be posting so much about Noah passing away and about his funeral and particularly coffins, but there is so much that I want to remember so I'm going to just keep posting them since this blog is our family journal.

Two days after Noah passed away Aaron and I met with our Bishop from church at the funeral home to arrange Noah's funeral.  I had always imagined that day, and it was so much easier than I thought it would be.  I thought that sitting there talking about coffins and flowers and who would talk at the funeral would be hard, but I just looked at it as planning a very special day for Noah which made it a lot easier.  We even had a few jokes about Hawthorn colours :)

When the funeral director asked us what kind of coffin we were thinking of I straight away told her I had always thought about having a white one, with bright coloured flowers on the top.  Aaron and I had never really talked about it together, because talking about your son's funeral when he is still living was just too hard, so we never really planned anything except in my head. When I looked at Aaron to see if he thought the same thing, he said he always imagined a dark chocolate coloured, wooden one, which kind of threw a spanner in the works.

She then told us that they don't do white ones, but they could paint one of the other coffins for an extra cost.  She then said that we needed to work out how tall Noah was.  She said a child's sized coffin was 4 foot, and we worked out Noah was at least 4 foot 4 so she said that meant he would have to have an adult sized coffin.   I hated to think that he would have to be in an adult sized coffin,  but she said to go into the room where all the coffins were to have a look to see if there was anything in there that we liked (but seriously who really likes a coffin!?').

We went into a room which had about ten different coffins in it ranging from around $800 to up to $6000! All I could think of was that ad on TV for funeral insurance that says 'the cost for flowers alone was hundreds of dollars' and kept thinking about how crazy it was that you have to pay so much for all these different things, at such a sad time in your life.

We looked around and none of the coffins really stood out to us, so we decided on one that was a blackwood one which looked okay.  It was one of the cheaper ones, but still looked 'nice' (if a coffin can really look nice).   Just as we had chosen it the funeral director came into the room and said that the boys out the back had just told her that there was a half finished WHITE coffin in the workshop that was 5 FOOT LONG!

She had just told us that they DON'T make white coffins and that they either have 4 foot coffins for children or adult coffins.

This was Noah's coffin!

I know it probably sounds crazy to some people, but I truly believe that it was meant to be Noah's coffin.  She asked us if we wanted to see it and they brought it into the room - it didn't even have handles on it, and wasn't lined out as they were STILL making it.  It was like they were making it just for Noah and I'm sure that was the case.

As soon as we saw it we both said it was the one we wanted as we knew it was Noah's coffin.  As hard as it was to see Noah in it, I think he looked so peaceful and beautiful in it and I knew it was meant for him.

There are so many 'little' (or actually big things) that let us know that it really was Noah's time to go and that things were being prepared for it, including us being as ready as we could've been. For that I'm very grateful.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

KMHS remembers Noah

On the day of Noah's funeral, Kings Meadows High School's grade 8 students (Aaron is the acting AST for grade 8) had a special ceremony to remember Noah.  Aaron heard that they were doing it, and quietly slipped away during the refreshments after Noah's funeral so he could be there for it.   Chrish and Alison went with him and took photos for us.

He was so glad that he could be there, and it was so nice for him to see how much support and love he had from his grade and school.  They all stood in a circle and had a minute silence first.

They then released balloons.

Supposedly all the students lined up to give Aaron a hug, and some boys even joined the line again to give him a second one.

Aaron has just had a couple of days back at school over the last couple of weeks, but hasn't taught yet.  He is having at least one more week off and will hopefully be ready to go back on class by then. We are so grateful for the support that our family is being shown right now.  During the week Aaron even got a phone call from the Secretary from the Department of Education to pass on their condolences.  It's nice that he doesn't feel like he is being rushed back into work, especially when he doesn't feel ready to teach just yet.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

My Memorial Service Talk

This is the talk I gave at Noah's school memorial service during the week.  

Noah started school at Punchbowl Kindergarten in 2005 at the old Kinder at Wentworth street.   

We were very nervous about sending Noah to school because he needed a lot of care and hadn’t ever been away from us before, but we knew that his aide Di would look after him well, and she has. He also had another aide Angie, for a little while and was very lucky to have people who loved and cared for him so well for so long. 

Before Noah started school we had a meeting with Mr R.the old principal and Mrs H. and we told them that even though Noah was disabled we knew that he would get a lot out of being at Punchbowl Primary because we knew what a great school it was.  We wanted him to be around children who would treat him well and who would make it a fun and happy place to be at, and it definitely has been that. 

We have been very proud to tell people that Noah went to Punchbowl Primary School.   When Noah was in Prep, Aaron and I were asked to speak at a dinner which was for all the teacher aides from different schools.  We talked to them about how good Punchbowl Primary had been in making school a great place for Noah to be. 

We told them about all of the amazing students here who loved having Noah at school and did everything they could to make him a part of their class, and all the teachers who did all they could to make school a great place for Noah.  

We love looking back at old photos of Noah having stories read to him, or playing with play dough in Prep with lots of his friends, or having his friends push him in his wheelchair around the school.

We loved it when we would walk into school with Noah and everyone would be excited to see him, and that you knew to do things like rub his arms or body to let him know that you were there saying hello, or to show him things close up so he could see them better. 

We will never forget Noah being in Miss W's class dance at the Celebration Evening last year.  Every morning Noah would open his eyes a little bit when he was wheeled into Miss W’s classroom, as he would hear the music blaring and see everyone dancing before the bell went.   He would then realise he was at school and would go back to sleep again.  I think that Noah is the only child at school who didn’t get into trouble for sleeping at school!  

We are really sad that he won’t get to be in Miss W’s class dance at the end of this year, but we know he will be there in spirit being one of the judges.

We loved teasing Noah’s teachers about how slack they were as Noah never came home with homework, never learnt to write his name and never learnt how to count.   But to us and Noah, doing those things weren’t important at all.  It was just important that he could have the best school, the best aides, the best teachers, and the best friends.   And that’s what he had at Punchbowl Primary.

 We would like to thank all of you for being so kind to Noah while he was at school.  We will never forget it.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Planting Noah's Garden

'Noah's Garden' has always been a spot at the school that had a lot of big leafy bushes in it, and it wasn't very pretty at all. The lovely groundsmen Mr B came to Noah's funeral and was always so lovely to him, so it was so nice to hear that he was keen to get a memorial garden planted for him, before the school's memorial service.  He straight away got stuck into clearing it all away, organising plants and pavers etc and painting the brick wall a lovely blue colour to match other parts of the school.

We got to choose how we wanted it to look and we aren't really gardners, so we just said 'pretty and colourful', so one of the teachers suggested which plants would look nice there.  It was so nice to hear that ABEL landscaping had donated all the pavers, rocks and woodchips for the garden. 

One afternoon after lunch Aaron, Kobe and I headed up to school and the boys got to choose one or two friends each to come and help us plant the garden.  Jay chose his best friend Rani, 

and Harri chose his friends Sarah and Ashton.

Kobe was loving being at school with the boys during school time.

Noah's special yellow 'remembering chair' was custom made and it looks beautiful against the blue wall.  I love that it's a beautiful garden, but also a spot that the kids can use all the time.

I have a feeling that Kobe is going to play with the rocks every time we are up at school now.

It's nice to walk into school and see such a special spot and know it was made especially for Noah.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Noah's Memorial Service

Yesterday was a tough day with Noah's school memorial service being held. Even though it was hard, it was also very special as the school did such a beautiful job of remembering Noah and celebrating the time that they had with him at school.

It was so nice to have so many parents come along to it and to also have family and friends with us as well.  Thanks Makayla and Alison for taking photos for us.  It was nice to be able to just be a part of the day and not have to worry about taking pics.

The memorial started off with the Principal talk about Noah's time at Punchbowl Primary including which teachers he had each year and all the things he liked to do, and then a group of kids from his class sang 'We can sing a rainbow'.  It was very emotional, especially as one of the boys who was getting up to sing was so upset that he couldn't sing and had to sit back down with the class instead.

Three children then shared a very special book that was all about Noah.  Each class had painted a very special page onto canvas all about Noah and it was presented so lovely in a special book with stitching.

Each class had written such lovely things about Noah which I will share later on.   Aaron and I were then asked to come up to be presented the book to keep and I spoke about Noah's time at the school, and how happy we were that he was able to go to such a wonderful school (I will also share that later on). I held it together right until the last sentence.  I was really aware of making it a happy time for the kids as so many were already upset, but it was hard to hold back the tears, especially when so many children, parents and teachers were all ready quite emotional.

The slideshow that Jalen made for the funeral was really long, so for the memorial service we just had one song. 

Everyone then headed outside to officially open up Noah's memorial garden which we had helped to plant out the day before.  One child from each class was chosen to represent their class in holding and releasing a balloon before the opening of the garden. Once again Noah turned the weather on for us.

They even had a special 'family balloon' for us to release with the kids. Attached to the strings of the balloons were special messages for Noah or things that the children had remembered about him.

They played the song 'Somewhere over the rainbow' while the children held their balloons and as the chorus came on they released them all at once which was so beautiful and also very sad at the same time as the whole school was silent as we watched them float up. 

Jay was really upset and probably the most upset he had been since Noah passed away. 

It was so hard for everyone and all the teachers had tears in their eyes, even though everyone was trying to be strong for the children so that they didn't get too upset.  We caught the balloon release and also the boys cutting the ribbon to officially open 'Noah's Garden' on video.

The boys were excited to be able to cut the ribbon together. 

They also got to be the first people to sit on 'Noah's Remembering Chair' which was painted bright yellow.  The Assistant Principal joked that she couldn't lower herself to putting brown stripes on it for Aaron :) 


 It was so nice to have family and friends there with us too.  



We are missing Di a lot, and know how hard she is finding not having Noah to work with at home or at school. It's hard to imagine how much Di's life has also changed since Noah has been her main source of work for the past seven years, and she is just like one of the family. 

I was looking at this photo which Makayla took, and after I cropped it I realised how much it is like our usual blog headers, but without Noah's wheelchair. It made me sad to see how different our family is now, but I love that Noah's Remembering Seat is a part of it still though.  

We love Noah's Memorial Garden and it is right in the middle of the school, so we know we will be seeing the flowers bloom in it all year round and will be using the seat many times to sit and think about Noah's time at such a great school. 

Afterwards we headed to the park for some lunch and a play together.

It was really nice that Makayla could come as she wasn't able to come to Noah's funeral as she was away in Queensland at the time.   I think it was still a really special way for her to be able to say goodbye to Noah in a way.

We are so grateful that school would want to do something so wonderful for Noah and our family, and are now feeling a bit of relief that we have three big things behind us.  It's been a hard three weeks with the funeral, the Make a Wish Run and the memorial service, but we are so glad that others have been able to celebrate Noah's life with us in such different but special ways.

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