Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saying goodbye...

Debbie's funeral was last Friday in Moab. It was bitter cold last week, the town experienced the most snowfall in one day since 1973... the year I was born. We thought that after 51 years of teasing Debbie, she had finally paid us back.

It was hard saying goodbye, but even harder was seeing the house without her in it. She had always been there, my whole life, just sitting in her chair. Whenever we would come and visit, she would wait by the window for hours. Mom would actually try hard to hide the fact that we were coming into town, because she would get so excited and it was hard to wait that long. We would always honk the horn really loud when we drove up and then a ritual, as we came into the house, of spanking kids and making lots of mischief. It was sad to go home for her funeral because the house just wasn't the same without her in it.

The morning after we arrived home, we went with Paul & Mary to the mortuary. Paul made Debbie's casket and Mary made the lining inside. It was so beautiful, they did the most amazing job. What a sweet service to do for Debbie.

Elaine and I brought a couple of our favorite pictures of Debbie and we displayed them with the flowers and programs outside the chapel.

The service was beautiful. Harrison & Nathan cried the entire time, they had a really hard time with it. They were pallbearers and Harrison said it was the hardest thing he'd ever done in his life.

Karen was not able to come home from Italy, but she wrote these sweet words to read at the funeral:

Debra Kay Cozzens, born March 13, 1958, passed peacefully from her home on earth on December 7, 2009.

When Debbie was born, her father rejoiced – she was the first girl born in a long line of Cozzens boys! It didn’t matter to him when they diagnosed her with cerebral palsy – he just adjusted life to fit her needs. He built a box for her to stand in, helped her ride a horse, float on Lake Warner in a canoe, and made sure she took part in--or was at least was able to see--as many things as possible.

Debbie didn’t like motorcycles, loud noises, snow, football, Santa Claus, or anything else she thought was fake. But the things she loved were many – and simple: she loved balloons, ice cream, root beer, cats, dogs, collecting cups and containers, high adventure television shows, baths, and babies. She loved kids who played where she could see them and kids who got into trouble! She loved bumpy rides in her little red wagon when she was little, and bumpy rides in the car when she grew up. We will never forget her big smile as she looked to the door and shook her hand indicating it was past time to give her a ride!

She will be missed by her dear angel mother who took such good care of her – feeding, bathing, changing, turning, and entertaining her around the clock, day and night. She will be missed by her beloved father – her knight in shining armor, her partner in crime, her entertainment director, and her constant companion. These three together taught us by example how to have pure love, charity, compassion, kindness, empathy, and patience. And, even though she could not speak, she taught us all great lessons that we could not learn from anyone else. Thanks Debbie, because of you, we are all better people.

Debbie, we will miss your smile and your laughter. We will miss giving you rides, stealing your socks, and making you laugh. However, because of the knowledge of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the gospel that we have, we know you are in a much better place now, rejoicing with grandparents who adore you. We know you can now run, skip, play, and dance. We know you will be one of our guardian angels, helping us from the other side with missionary work – and helping us be better people so that we can all rejoice with you again after this life.

Elaine's son Jason just got married and we were able to meet his cute new wife Sara. We really welcomed her into the family by making her sing a sad song with us sisters & nieces for Debbie. She was so sweet to oblige.

After the service we went up to the cemetery above our house. We even had police escorts that blocked off all of the streets (I don't see them do that anymore, at least up north where we live).

Harrison and Nathan were great pallbearers, even through the tears.

All the younger nephews were pallbearers. My brother Dave gave a beautiful dedicatory prayer.

Debbie loved balloons, so Elaine ordered 51 balloons to let off after the prayer. It was a perfect thing to do for Debbie.

Nathan had been crying a lot during the service and at the cemetery, but nothing like the sobbing that he was letting out during the prayer. Finally I figured out that his fingers had been smashed underneath the casket when they set it down. Talk about adding insult to injury. Poor little boy!

Debbie will be missed dearly by her brothers, sisters, parents and all of the family.

Jennifer & Randy put together the programs. They did a nice job. This was the poem they included, "To Those I Love" written by Isa Paschal Richardson...

If I should ever leave you
Whom I love
To go along the Silent Way,
Grieve not.
Nor speak of me with tears,
But laugh and talk
Of me as if I were
Beside you there.
(I’d come—I’d come
Could I but find a way!
But would not tears and grief
Be barriers?)
And when you hear a song
Or see a bird
I loved, please do not let
The thought of me
Be sad, for I am
Loving you just as
I always have.
You were so good to me!
There are so many things
To say to you.
Remember that I
Did not fear—it was
Just leaving you
That was so hard to face.
We cannot see Beyond.
But this I know:
I loved you so—‘twas heaven
Here with you.


Deon said...

Beautiful. Much love to you and your family.

Morkthefied said...

I just now read this beautiful tribute. This line in the poem really touched me:

"Just leaving you
That was so hard to face."

Maybe another reason why your sister lived for so long was because she just loved you all so much. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Ellen. I'm not sure I've ever been so touched by a life story in my whole life as I have the story of your sister and parents and family.