Levi's Eulogy (June 16, 2018)
My introduction (on FB) to my son's eulogy:
The reality is that I have spent more time planning play-dates than the time I had to plan my son’s funeral. I just knew I wanted, needed it to be meaningful for this boy we loved so much.
When we met with the priest on Thursday, I told him I would be reading the eulogy. I mean, I hadn’t written it, yet, but I knew I would be writing it and I would be the one to share the words. It didn’t even cross my mind that it could be any other way. I am his mama: he is my baby.
I shared about my boy yesterday at his funeral service. I I have a family blog where I have always posted about my kids, our adventures, their tantrums, our joy, and mayhem. I’m sharing his eulogy on this blog now, because I want Levi’s life, and not just his death, to be known.
The song, “The Best Day,” by Taylor Swift, has been such a special part of my life with my kids. I have shared so many cuddles and tender moments with them while singing this song to them. The words in this song have truly shaped my life as a mom, reminding me constantly throughout the last 9 years that Lily, Reese, and Levi’s childhoods are defined by moments that make up the days that make up the years.
Thank you for your own heartfelt words in this beautiful song, Taylor Swift.
Thank you for coming. Please know we can feel your desperation to help us, your heartache for us, your love for our crazy, silly Levi.
Every night at bedtime, even if I was tired, I sang the song “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift, to my kids. It is a song to her mom, describing all of the best-days they had together, but I turned it into a bedtime song, our special ritual. I started singing it to Lily as a baby and then to Reese as a baby. When I was pregnant with Levi, we knew he was a boy, because of the line “God smiles on my little brother; inside and out, he’s better than I am.” Since January, all 3 of my babies have slept together in the bunk beds. It started when, one night, I put him in his crib in his room and walked down the hallway. I heard a noise and went back to check on him but couldn’t find him. I finally peeped into the girls’ room, and he was frantic, trying to hurry and get under the covers beside Reese. When he realized I spotted him, he froze, blanket only pulled halfway over one leg. He was 2 years old, and he squeezed his eyes shut tightly and pretended to fake snore…like, maybe I would forget that he didn’t actually sleep here. I kissed his little face, he tried to suppress a grin, eyes still squeezed shut. And, I tiptoed out of the room. Ever since that night, he has slept in their room: Lily on the top bunk, Levi and Reese on the bottom, with Levi snuggled basically on top of her or under her armpit. (This did backfire on him the time Reese got sick, sat up in bed and threw up all over the back of his head and back).
So, for the last 5 months, I sang this song to all 3 of them together. I ended every night with “I had the best day with Lily, Reese, and Levi today.” Levi would even sing along with me, only remembering a few words here or there but nodding along and grinning.
And, here is what we need to tell him now:
- Levi, we had the best day with you when we went for my 20 week ultrasound and found out you were a BOY. I have never seen your Daddy strut or beam like he did on that day. When he went back to work and slammed the ultrasound picture against the glass of the OR and said “That’s what I’m talking about.”
- Levi, we had the best day with you when you were constantly running, jumping, moving, squealing, yelling, and jumping some more. We just didn’t know- we didn’t know you had so much energy and you never slept, because you were trying to fit so many years of living into just 3.
- Levi, it was the best day when your sisters performed hour long dance recitals, and you would continuously just jump in, wearing your Cookie Monster costume or pink fairy wings over your pajamas. When you would yell, in a completely incomprehensible voice, “ALEXA!!!! PLAY PAW PATROL THEME SONG!” Then, you would start in with your crazy moves, jumping and flailing your arms, with your fierce, angry expression on your face.
- Levi, we had the best days with you as the baby brother, our family’s caboose. Lily and Reese loved you fiercely before you were even born. You were immediately a trio: each of you bringing a different personality to the beautiful puzzle that was your sibling-hood. I can’t imagine a baby who was kissed more, worried about more, or sang to more than you by your big sisters. If you know me, you know I’m honest about parenting…and, well, siblings fight, and you were no exception. You delighted in torturing Reese, sneaking up and grabbing her LOL doll, throwing it into your Mickey ride-on car, and zooming off as fast as you could. But, within several minutes, you were back to being the best of friends: chasing each other through the house, jumping off of the couch together, squealing in delight together, always, always looking out for each other. Even though you were basically the same size, she loved to mother you: “Vi-Vi, listen to Ree-Ree. I need you to drink this milk and not spill it.” Lily has been the mom I always wanted to be; she was unconditionally patient with you, playing with you, fretting over you, convincing me as often as possible to let you wear the Cookie Monster t-shirt you loved so much. The two of you never fought; your love for each other was full and pure. She was your fiercest protector, the one who understood you best. She loved nothing more than to make you little surprises: handmade games and books, a handmade Thomas the Train piñata for your third birthday. Every time we went to Target, she would sneak one small treasure into the basket for you, usually using own birthday money: Paw Patrol Mash-Ems, a tiny, squishy Minion, Skittles. We would all giggle each time you accidentally mixed up your sisters’ nick-names and call Lily: “Lily Cup” and Reese: “Reesie Pad.” The love that the three of you shared with each other was beautiful, magical, precious to witness.
* Levi, it was the best day when you always wanted to read the Colossal Squid book. It was fitting, because the book was filled with dangerous animals, like your soul-animal, The Tasmanian Devil.
- Me: “Levi, are you a Tasmanian Devil?”
- Levi: “No, Mama. I’m Vi-Vi.”
- Levi, we had the best days with you, every time you dropped your pants to pee somewhere totally inappropriate: the Splash Pad, a teacher’s house, a soccer game, our neighbor’s house. To know you was to hear how much you loved to say “penis.”
- Levi: “Mom, is this public? Can I please say ‘penis’ ?”
- Me: “No, please don’t say it right now.”
- Levi: *pause* “How about ‘booty-booty-butt”?
- Levi, we had the best days with you when we visited family, spread out over TN and AL. You were the baby, our family’s final baby, and we all cherished you as such. You were always having an adventure, being fed popsicles, going to the zoo, peeing everywhere, climbing in a tree house, blowing bubbles, playing with marbles, being spoiled, loved, and cherished by these grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. You were our collective joy, our collective final baby. You are also our collective tragedy, for they will never let us suffer through this alone.
- Levi, truly, on your last day with us, we had the best day. You came to my room at 11pm the night before, and I slept with you all night in your bottom bunk at the beach house. I didn’t even get frustrated, like I sometimes did. We just enjoyed snuggling all night, you popping up to see me, grinning, and burying your face back in the pillow. You ate chocolate chip mini-muffins, unicorn Lucky Charm cereal, a push-pop, a ring pop, mini M&M’s, a Ninja Turtle popsicle from the Ice Cream truck, Cheeto puffs. It was the dream diet for a 3 year old. You flew a kite with Daddy, tried to catch fish with him, and he took you out to the sand bar with our friends. You were THRILLED to have so many kids and friends around you. You swam with Lily for hours, playing silly games and flipping upside down in your Finding Dory tube. You played LOL dolls with Reese, lied next to her on the couch and watched YouTube together. You snuggled with me on the beach, your hot, sticky body, curled up in my lap…for 15 seconds, until you got sand on your push-pop and, in true Levi spirit, insisted, demanded it be fixed immediately. Even in your final moments, there was such happiness. When I put on your neon yellow crab-hunting shirt, the one that matched your daddy’s and all of our friends, you were thrilled, ecstatic. Crab-hunting night is the highlight of the week. You told me, matter-of-factly, as if I didn’t know: “This is not my jammie shirt. This is my crab-hunting shirt!” My last image is of you jumping up and down, Cheetos and brownie in a bowl, laughing at a TV show with friends. In the upcoming months and years and lifetime without you, I think we will find a small comfort in the memories of this final “best day.”
- Levi, our lives are never going to be the same for having held you, loved you, chased after you. This pain feels unbearable, but we will take it if it is the price we have to pay for getting to share so many best days with you.
Levi, we didn’t know if you knew, so we’re taking this chance to say- We had the best day with you, every day.