The Buffalo cemetery is beautiful. Picturesque farmland adjacent, the quaint town of Buffalo with its water tower off in the distance, big sturdy trees surrounding the wire fenced-in cemetery... but the best is the peonies planted near almost every other gravestone. We were there just as they started to bloom. Story has it that the cemetery was started by a family that lost their son in a train accident. They planted a peony next to his grave. Then as the cemetery grew, they kept transplanting those peonies. Every peony in the cemetery to this day comes from that original plant.
Greg's brother John who died from an accident at 21 months is buried right next to Maelee. He has a sweet pink peony next to his grave. You can see all the different peonies beginning to blossom in the background.
Buffalo was quite warm on the 29th. It felt more like South Carolina but without the humidity. I started sweating early on, before the service started. I went over with my sister to the shade of the trees nearby to cool off. As people started arriving, I wanted to greet them but when I stepped out into the sunny area, I just started sweating more. My sister wisely said I could just let the people come to me. Smart.
So instead of meeting around Maelee's gravestone, we met mostly in the shade nearby. It turned out to be a perfect spot.
Andrew, Greg's brother-in-law, took video of the service for our family that couldn't be there. A few days later I realized that people were probably wondering why the heck we took video of our daughter's memorial service... that's a little odd. We haven't even watched our wedding video!
There wasn't a sound system so we made sure to have a program ready with all the songs and Scriptures printed out. My brother-in-law, Jeff, passed out the program as people came. Greg designed it so sweetly, for Maelee.
Welcome and Prayer / Dale and Mary Kasowski
Grandpa K invited everyone to the community center after and opened us up with a sweet prayer. Grandma K welcomed everyone, thanking all who came for joining us in our house of mourning (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4).
2 Samuel 12:15-23 / Chris Kasowski
Leave it to Greg to find some obscure verse in the OT to use... but this Scripture is key to knowing Maelee is in heaven. As I understand it, David's son died shortly after birth. I won't put all these verses here but you should go and read them. The last verse states:
"But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”David knew that he would someday go to his son (in heaven) and see him again. David, who wrote many of the psalms and was one "after God's own heart," knew his child was in heaven and he'd join him there someday.
How Great Thou Art / Josh Hoeckle
Greg was in a band named Crimson for 4+ years. The lead singer, Josh, is a dear friend and he led the two hymns we sang. It took a bit for everyone to get in sync but it was beautiful.
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder[There was a train that came by here so we waited for it to pass before going on - ah sweet Buffalo and its trains.]
Consider all the works Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:
When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
John 12:23-26 | Kernels of Wheat / Matt Kasowski
Jill, Matt's wife, sent me a few ideas for how we could make Maelee's Day more memorable and meaningful. I'm so glad that even though her and the kids couldn't be there, she was able to be a part of the service by giving us so many thoughtful ideas. She mentioned these verses:
"And Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.'"Jill stated "You could point out that Maelee's life, by God's sovereignty, will produce fruit for his glory.... The seed of Maelee's life, and soul, is eternal and will bear fruit eternally." Matt talked about this and that the Lord has caused us to see our need for Him through Maelee's death. We passed around a bowl of wheat for those gathered to take a few kernels. My uncle Dale brought the wheat from his farm in northwest ND.
As Greg began to play, we passed a vase around for people to put in their wheat. We have a keepsake to look to now, when we need a reminder that Maelee's death will bear fruit.
Long / Greg Kasowski
Greg has written Maelee five songs now. What a great daddy! This one will bring tears...
The crib is open, there’s no stink1 Peter 1:3-9 / Amber Lippert
Everything's dolled up in pink
There's tons of diapers, the drawers are full
All was ready except your soul
An empty car seat and no high chair
A rounded box, a lock of hair
Frowning puppets, cast hands and feet
The nurse has said, “There’s no heartbeat.”
A lonely car ride, a sad, sad song
No Maelee here is just so wrong
Return the toys, take back the gifts
Punch the floor, pound your fists
Oh, how we long to have you here
From the newborn cries to the college years
Oh, how we long to see you smile
From the first two steps to escort down the aisle
It won’t be a long, long time till
we see you again, till we see you in heaven
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
We cling to the promise in Christ during our very grievous trial of Maelee's death. My sister made it through reading this Scripture without breaking down. Good job, Am.
Maelee / Greg Kasowski
Maelee’s Name / Lloyd and Sherry Tysse
While Greg sang, we had my favorite part of the service. My mom and I the day before picked out 18 rocks from Great-Grandma K's yard. We wrote each letter of "Maelee Linn Kasowski" on the rocks to spell out her name. I then assigned each rock to someone special to us, to walk over to her gravestone and place the rock. Grandpa and Grammy T had the first rock, Maelee's "M," and one-by-one her name was spelled out.
Since we don't have her gravestone near us, to mark her life and death, we brought these rocks back to SC with us.
Greg ended up playing two of his songs during this part. Maelee (adorable) and Pink (lyrics are written on this post from 5/6/10).
I know you heard me when you were in the womb
Cause when I’d come home, she said you’d move
I see you running wild like your blazing red hair
No worries in life, and too innocent to care
Maelee, my heart breaks when I think of
Maelee, I think you would’ve liked my
Singing, even though I sometimes sing off key
Take you on a drive then stop and let you run
But with your fair skin, you gotta stay out of the sun
We could eat some cereal, yeah, three big bowls
But you don’t like my kind, so we’ll stick with Cheerios
From the time you cry to the day you cleave
I would be there, I would never leave
We would’ve had some really fun times
Joking around while I break out my rhymes
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 / Amy Brown
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words."
Dear Amy read these verses that reminded us of the hope we have.
My Hope Is Built / Josh Hoeckle
My hope is built on nothing lessClosing Prayer and Benediction/ Matt Kasowski
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
Beautiful. "We'll have to wait to know Maelee. "
"May the Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father who loves you and by His grace gives you eternal encouragement and hope, comfort and strengthen your heart at every good deed and word. May the Lord of peace give you peace continually and in every circumstance. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forever. Amen."
Goodbye / Alex Greene
I asked my cousin Alex to play this song a few days before Maelee's Day. He didn't know it but learned it for us and did a remarkable job. Greg and I walked over to Maelee's grave as he played and had some moments with just us that were precious.
The song is by Plankeye and you can listen to it via YouTube here.
Walk away it's time to say goodbye
We then had a sort of "receiving line" next to Maelee's grave. We didn't even have a receiving line at our wedding, so I thought that was a bit amusing. But each hug, handshake, comment was received with love. I was especially grateful to Aunt Carrie for her sweet song she sang to us during her hug. We really do have wonderful family and friends in our lives.
Greg and I stayed there for awhile, soaking it all in, while everyone headed to the community center. Once there, Bill Crosby prayed for our meal and everyone ate (we did not have a lack of good food, that's for sure). We had a table with many of the special things we have of Maelees and have been given... I'll post those someday.
Thanks to all who joined us and for those who read my long summary! I'll never get to post about Maelee's birthday parties or graduations or wedding celebration so I appreciate getting to think on each detail of her memorial service.