1) In order to read this post you must have a Disney movie ready for when you’ve finished!
2) There is even more swearing in this one than the last! 😁
3) It’s a long one so hang in there!
4) I’ve cried 8 times already looking back at ‘the photos’ that I have to use for this post, so tissues are a definite requirement! 😩
I have the biggest wave of sickness as I type, as this is probably the worst mental and emotional state I have ever been in…
Transporting myself back to ‘that place’ and feeling ‘those emotions’ all over again is simply heartbreaking. In the order of life and everything we know about it, it is just so very very wrong.
“No parent should ever have to organise and attend a service of their own child.”
The Putting Off:
Now where the f**k do I start?
How the f**k do I organise a service? How the f**k do I attend a service? How the f**k do I attend my own daughters service? Who the f**k do I invite? What the f**k do I say? What the f**k do I wear? Should I even wear make up? What the f**k’s the point? Should we have a ‘do’ afterwards? Who the f**k will even want to come? What if no one wants to come? What if I have to carry her? What songs do I pick? What if I don’t want a church? Who the f**k is going to lead it? In fact I give up I can’t f**king do this!
“And that’s where our lovely angel LeighAnne saved our lives.”
You never think you need to know a funeral director.
90% of the time you drive past these businesses often on high street’s without knowing or even an acknowledgment in the world as ‘that doesn’t affect you yet’.
But all of a sudden, out of no where and without warning your forced into this crazy unimaginable world and in need of a funeral director.
You’re in need of a funeral business/service/parlour whatever they are called, but not just any. I was adamant that this wouldn’t be ‘just another service’ and my girl is not ‘just another person’ who has died.
She is not someone who has had the privilege of living an amazing life or a life at all in fact. She is not someone with tales to tell, memories made or ‘ready’ to leave this earth…
So it has to be a business who understands this, it has to be a funeral director who can relate to some of the pain and heartache that we are feeling. Someone who will know what ‘kind’ of service we are after. One who can command the room positively and touch people’s hearts the way Luna has touched ours, share our 9 months of joy together and to lead it as a celebrant.
But most importantly, deliver the most incredible send off a parent could ever wish for.
(Especially for a parent as fussy as me!) 😁
“It has to be an amazing person to recognise, establish and deliver perfection for the most important day of my baby’s life.”
And just like that… LeighAnne came into our lives.
The most powerful, strong, compassionate woman, come mother, come absolute boss lady, come funeral director, who not only had the experience for what we required but also had similar personal experience with her son Beau.
A living angel.
My mum found LeighAnne through her local funeral parlour from an old school friend. She gave me the heads up that she ‘knows how we feel’ as she’s been there before many years ago and now leads funerals and also does baby’s funerals.
It was the comfort we needed.
It was a godsend.
Funnily enough we had been given a pack from the hospital which included information about a charity called Little Things & Co. who can release a white bird at a baby’s service free of charge. What I didn’t know when I had sent them an email to inquire was that I was liaising with the same woman!?
Hold on, she directs funerals and has doves through a charity. She must work for the charity aswell.
Oh wait she’s the founder of that charity. Oh wow she’s created a charity from her experience with Beau.
I felt so inspired. What a woman.
Little Things & Co. are a baby bereavement charity that do exactly what they say on the tin. They focus on the ‘little things’ offering lots of services from teeny tiny specialist baby clothes to fit any baby, to free use of white peace birds to release at a baby’s service and all support in between.
Genius idea if you ask me! 😁
LeighAnne visited our home to ‘discuss.’ We were absolutely dreading it beyond belief but as soon as I saw her and hugged her I felt at ease.
“She was like an auntie I’d never known, so caring, funny and genuine and we all hit it off from the offset.”
She asked ‘how we were’ and all the things that people normally do but she just had a way about her. She really ‘knew’ what we were actually feeling behind the fake politeness and smiles and she brought warmth into our lives at such a cold time.
I’m pretty sure that every conversation we had previously to LeighAnne’s visit regarding ‘it’ I would just break down and refuse to think about ‘it’ and be unable to talk about ‘it’.
But this time I didn’t cry, I welled up a few times at the reality of the day but LeighAnne made it feel so ‘normal’ to talk about this event that I didn’t feel sad, I felt passionate about what I wanted and craved perfection.
“It seemed ‘normal’ to decide between a burial or cremation, a coffin or a casket, an all black or a colour dress code, a gathering or no gathering.”
She suggested ideas based on the people she could see we were and allowed me to use my imagination freely and vision what I desired.
She then made it happen.
“So I put my party planning hat on and brought my vision to life.”
Ryan and I came to the agreement of a cremation which I was SO against to begin with.
After discussing with family and researching online we discovered there is an option to make Luna’s ashes into diamonds.
What the actual f**k?!
There’s also so much you can do with the ashes, make into stones, have inside your jewellery or even as part of a tattoo! It’s a crazy world but you wouldn’t know until you find yourself having to look.
So they had me at diamond (of course 😁) then the suggestion popped up about having the diamond inserted or implanted into our wedding rings, so we will have to get 2 diamonds made from her ashes.
What a f**king genius idea! It was amazingly comforting to visualise my wedding ring and her there always touching me and always with me.
It would just be that extra special connection only Ryan & I would ever have. She will remain the sparkle in our eye, forever.
“There was now no persuading anymore. My girl knows mumma loves her diamonds!” 😁
The other reason why I was swayed from a burial was the guilt. Having to purposefully attend a graveyard and see the reality of death at every visit would break me. Let alone the guilt of not visiting for a week, or 2 or 3… or seeing the deterioration of the head stone and flowers. Not thinking about if we were to move in future and not visit at all. I just couldn’t and wouldn’t want to leave her behind.
So we did it, one decision had been made and now only 30 odd others to go! 🙈
My vision from the beginning was always fairy lights and candles, that’s the only way I could describe it. Just as she had been born into the world under the Christmas tree and surrounded by the glow of fairy lights, I wanted her to be sent off in the same soft way.
I wanted a little tiny white box for her (a casket) and only white roses. Single ones, and for everything to be crisp white and sophisticated to resemble a christening.
I didn’t want her name in lettered flowers, although so beautiful (and it would look simply stunning in photographs) I knew deep down it was wasted money as I wouldn’t want them in the house. (I can kill fake flowers at the best of times). 😁
I also didn’t want a big car for her to arrive in and for her to look unloved in the back without flowers. I didn’t want her to be driven around Plymouth and for people to see she had no flowers, so we had a special car for her.
A little tiny one. Petite and tiny. (Like her dad). 😁
We also didn’t want her to ‘pick us up.’
She’s our baby and she should definitely not be picking up her mum & dad. Talk about cramping her style on her big day with us embarrassing parents in the car! ❤️
“So we gave her the freedom to be the princess she is and her chauffeur drove her there in style.”
LeighAnne briefed us on how a typical service is led, how the day unfolds, the timings of readings and poems and we discussed our vision.
We requested to have the very last time slot of the day to avoid the feeling of a conveyor belt at the crematorium, and then afterwards we could have as much time as we needed and not feel rushed away.
LeighAnne asked if we would like anything to be videoed and I said absolutely. Ryan was really unsure at first like ‘why the f**k would we video the saddest day of our lives’ and I completely agreed, but I just knew I wanted to have it just in case. I wanted to look back in my own time, show our future children or share with the world of how ‘nice’ it can be for a baby’s send off. And I knew I wanted it to print screen photos of different parts of it as I wouldn’t be able to do it myself.
“I knew I may never look at it again, but I knew I wanted it.”
We requested for everyone to wear something pink and for no black to be in sight. They need not bring any flowers as I had them sorted!
Then the awful bit, have you thought about song choices?
I had, secretly.
Kind of half hiding from Ryan that I had googled and YouTubed the sh*t out of music choices and lyrics as it had to be just right.
I did it because I knew she would ask and so I had to bring it up gently in conversation with Ry so he could have an input (on at least one thing). 😁
We chose Sam Smith ft John Legend – Lay Me Down for her entry. The words in the first two lines and the title of the song were enough to decide.
After watching I’m A Celebrity (as I had throughout this awful journey) this song came on when someone was booted off and I instantly knew it was the one.
I frantically ran round the house to find my phone and Shazam it because I couldn’t remember what it was called…
Andre Day – Rise Up.
We decided this would be the perfect song for to cover her slideshow of life in photos as her voice is simply the most moving voice I have ever heard.
To finish, well this is a tricky one.
I knew we needed something ‘upbeat’ and not depressing at this point as we will have broken everyone already.
Then it clicked.
It was the song we listened to as my adjoining room lady was giving birth in the hospital to hide the noise.
It brought back all ‘those’ memories but it really comforts/comforted me and I love the lyrics.
Emeli Sandé – Starlight.
I even managed to find a YouTube video with the lyrics so people could see why we chose it and planned for this to be played for everyone to watch and listen to, before leaving.
Well that was f**king hard linking the songs.
What a serious trigger music can be. I’m now sweating my tits off, with goosebumps all over and streaming eyes…
Deep breath… and back to it.
So anyway, that was the song choice done, another decision decided!
I then had to invite people so I thought f**k it, 21st century and all that. So I drafted an essay text for family and decided we would invite everyone who held her and family who couldn’t make it to see her.
The response was unbelievable! We were just so surprised at how many people were coming (like actually wanted to come and weren’t forced?!) and how the midwives also all wanted an invite!
“All I thought was why the f**k do all of these lovely people want to come! Why would you want to come to something so sad.”
But it meant the world.
Luna touched them so much that they wanted to come and be a part of her special day. It was such a special feeling and so much pressure all at once. I wanted it to be a.m.a.z.i.n.g.
LeighAnne sent the draft copy of her ‘Order Of Service’ through and OH MY F**KING GOD it stabbed my heart like you wouldn’t believe.
It was perfectly beautiful yet so f**king sad.
Her little face on the front, the cute little baby grows and things along the top, seeing the date and time in black and white, the words ‘born sleeping,’ and the stars on the inside.
Holy sh*t. F**k. This is real.
“This is really f**king real and this is my daughter. We really do have to attend her service, there’s no going back now.” 💔
“You can’t actually prepare for this. You can try as much as you like but your emotions on the day will inevitably take over.”
It was my role to create a slideshow of Luna’s life to pretty much break people even further and of course share our journey with them.
And it was Ryan’s choice to write and deliver a speech.
I tried to say to him the best I could and discreetly… like ‘are you sure you want to do this baby, don’t feel like you have to, LeighAnne can read it for you,’ and ‘I know you’ll be amazing but if you get choked up or can’t carry on at any point LeighAnne can take over.’
He wasn’t having any of it, f**king men. 😁
Ryan was absolutely adamant he would be writing and delivering a 4 page (of A4) speech in front of us all on the day no matter how long it took him. That was his goal.
It took him f**king ages to write, he bled his heart on paper, but I was only allowed to read 3 of the pages.
It even included all the thank you’s, a section for the amazing midwives and then a section for me, which was page 4… 💔😩
Ryan practised his speech about 30 times with me and every single time he couldn’t get past the first paragraph and neither could I without lumps in throats, wobbly voices and tears.
F**king heartbreaking is the only way I can describe it, I was literally only listening to him (and even knew the words off by heart for the same rehearsed paragraph 🙈) yet I was in bits.
“It was killing me to see that Ryan couldn’t even speak, how on Earth is he going to read this out!?”
We then wrote a letter to her.
Writing the letter was the HARDEST thing. It’s like here and now we came to terms with the reality that part of us was saying goodbye, and we would be saying goodbye to her perfectly formed body in just a few days.
I felt a sense of comfort and closure to this stage of grief at this point, but there is so much love, so many feelings and stories to be shared, I felt I still didn’t say or write everything as I wanted.
I couldn’t formulate my feelings into words.
I tried to keep it upbeat as I try to when I blog and I added some laughs in there about what she’s done to her dad… 😁
How she’s put him through enough stress, heartache and sleepless nights to last a lifetime, but he would do it all again if it meant you didn’t ask him for boys to stay over when she’s older!
How she purposely ensured the tap adaptor didn’t work that night so he had to fill it by hand as she knew that he would moan and it would put his muscles to the test. 😁
Just the ‘little things’ as I knew it would be read out on the day.
Most importantly we asked for her to watch over her future siblings as/when/if they arrive to ensure they arrive safely.
And of course that we love her to pieces and this is not and will never be the end…
But that’s not enough really is it.
I couldn’t tell her how much she means to us and I couldn’t show her either. It was so f**king annoying, frustrating, painful and just completely f**king sad.
“What I couldn’t say or didn’t want to say out loud, I had told her in my mind.”
We sealed this in an envelope and addressed to our Luney bear. We wanted this to ‘go in with her’ and we also wanted this to be read out by LeighAnne on the day on our behalf.
The other things that went in with her were;
• a copy of Ryans speech
• a poem from Nanny Debbie (Ryan’s mum)
• a letter from Auntie Sophie (my sister)
• a poem from Grandad Steve (my dad)
• an envelope containing photo’s of everyone who held her and I named the envelope ‘those who were lucky enough to hold an angel’
• in her left hand she held the inside of a 2 part keyring which we have the outer part on our keys
I most importantly asked LeighAnne to place the photo of the 3 of us in Luna’s arms, face down on top of her blanket but under her chubby arms as though she is cuddling us. ❤️
The ‘morning of’ was actually just awful. We were half kicking ourselves at the fact we had chosen to be last of the day at 15:30 because we had to fill an entire day of doing nothing but feeling sick, trying to eat something and being pretty silent.
We had a huge cuddle and pep talk when we woke. I ironed our things to kill time and we s.l.o.w.l.y. got ready. I couldn’t actually f**king believe it though, I had only gone and burned a hole in the back of my f**king top. (Or shall I say the iron did as I’m a top ironer) I haven’t ever burned a thing in my life.
I thought fuck sake Luney give your mum a break here! 😁
“To be fair it takes me 2/3 hours to get ready at the best of time for an event so for me it was fairly ‘normal’ to take so long!”
I was forced into the dilemma of make up and outfit choices; half of me wanting to go in a onesie with my hair in a bun and the other in need of looking like a hot mumma and to make her proud.
But I also didn’t want to look like I was going on a night out and the same applied to the outfit choice so I stuck with nudes and baby pinks (I’m so safe and boring) from head to toe.
“I have to say though that my Chanel waterproof mascara was a life saver… and trust me I put it to the extreme test!”
We were all ready, Ry’s parents arrived early to collect us and then we were in the dilemma of shall we have a pic or not? Like do we smile or not? I want to keep them for memories but I don’t want a face like thunder.
We had a couple of pics, I drooled over Ryan and how beautiful he is (as always 😍) and we picked up the speeches and donation box.
This was day 1 of Luna’s Fund 😍
We were driven to the crematorium, small talk and hand holding all the way. We felt better knowing we had met LeighAnne a couple of days before this at the crematorium to walk through our vision for the day and it helped us to know what we could expect.
“Just as we got to the entrance to pull in, I couldn’t believe my eyes! There she was!! She was just about to pull in aswell ❤️!”
OH MY GOD RY SHE’S THERE, RY LOOK! 😍
Grandad Lee gave way to her chauffeur and she pulled in and waited at the top to the left as we drove into the entrance and passed her.
We had only just got in the gate and I felt like I was about to have a breakdown. Seeing that little white box in the back of the car and her patiently waiting just metres away from us, my own flesh and blood, my daughter, my once living baby, was a pure dagger to the heart.
“I just wanted to jump into the back of her car and hold her one more time…”
I know she wanted us to see her for some reason but I didn’t know why.
I told myself it was her way of reassuring me that she is there to comfort me and another reminder that she is with me all the time.
We noticed everyone’s cars parked up so we knew all family were here and anxiously waiting.
I was dreading seeing them all, the awkwardness, ‘thanks for coming’, ‘you look lovely’ and those squeezy hugs that make you cry no matter what.
We met with LeighAnne who had her pink tie on and she held Ryan back to show him what to do and when to carry her in.
“I bravely went into the little awkward room where everyone eagerly waited and thanked everyone for coming.”
I didn’t know what to say or where to look but just waited for them to call us inside.
Ryan followed shortly after and LeighAnne asked everybody to take a seat but to leave the front left row for Luna’s parents and those reading.
I allowed everyone to go in front of me and waited until I really did have to go in. I took a huge deep breath, hugged my mum and walked towards the doors.
There I stood, witnessing pure perfection. ❤️
Holy f**king shit it is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L!
…And then I had a slight breakdown outside the doors.
I was absolutely mesmerised how the simplicity of fairy lights and fake candles could change the whole atmosphere of a tired, cold crematorium.
I saw the petals and the bucket full of single roses with hand painted ‘Luna’ on the front and I was just amazed.
LeighAnne’s daughter Lucy painted that for her (as I said it’s the little things) and there I saw the slideshow poised and ready to play which read ‘A Celebration for the Life of Luna Valentina Conroy.’ 💔
I was absolutely broken before I stepped in. I was transfixed at the sight of pure perfection, even better than I had even imagined!
I sat down on the front left row and waited like I’ve never waited before. It was the most indescribable feeling of pain, illness and dread. I wanted to be sick at any moment…
But I knew what was coming.
I desperately wanted to take a photo, but I couldn’t find my f**king phone anywhere. I couldn’t find it in my clutch bag or blazer and assumed it was at home. I absolutely f**king kicked myself thinking I’m going to have to remember how amazing this is. How am I going to describe this to people!
“Yes I do, I believe, that one day I will be, where I was, right there, right next to you, and it’s hard, the days just seem so dark, and the moon and the stars are nothing without you…” 🌙✨
Her entry song had began. My palms were sweating, tears rolling, armpits dripping, heart racing, I just couldn’t bring myself to look.
I peered round and there they were.
Daddy and daughter. 💔💔💔
My absolute hero, my soul mate, my best friend, my idol, the strongest man on this dam right f**king planet, carrying our precious little princess.
“I swear to god the feeling was like being stabbed or shot in the heart. It hurt SO much.”
I felt beyond proud.
It was the craziest sight and feeling. It was the most amazing vision of pride, love, and strength combined with utter heartache, sadness and disbelief.
I couldn’t help but crack a smile at them together again and then crumble at the thought of her back in her daddy’s arms for the very last time.
Her box was SO small. It was heart wrenching and this moment put my life back into perspective all over again.
“Ryan placed her on her stand and she was surrounded by beautiful lights. She lit up the entire room.”
LeighAnne was beyond incredible at delivering Luna’s service, she was able to positively command the room and explained through her words of comfort that Luna was never touched by cold or by hunger, that she never knew fear and only knew love. ❤️
She invited my mum to the podium to read her poem which was amazing. She stood so strong and tiny (she’s only 4’11 at a push 😁) we could only really see her little fro popping over the top of the stand and she read so beautifully.
We had bets on that LeighAnne would have to read hers but she surprised us immensely!
My dad was then invited to the podium to read his poem, which was perfect. My mum put him to shame as he wobbled throughout but still held it together so well. I felt so so proud.
What is with these f**king men? 😁
‘We will now hear a speech from Luna’s dad, Ryan…’
My heart sunk, oh my god this is it. Come on baby you can do it, hold it together you can do it.
Well f**k me sidewards and call me Susan.
It was absolutely INCREDIBLE, I just watched from the bench in absolute awe and admiration. I felt I was in a trance, I felt like we were the only two ladies in the room (he makes me feel like that all the time anyway 😍) but this time it was crazy.
I was fixated on his words and passion. He took centre stage and didn’t opt for the podium so he could be next to Luna (loves the attention) and kept talking and referring to her.
He delivered the most amazing speech with only a few wobbles and pauses, and I was honestly f**king gobsmacked (not going to lie darling)! 😁
…And then I had my own paragraph.
Oh my f**king god.
He stared directly into my eyes and opened his heart in front of everyone about how amazing I am and how much he loves me in the most beautiful way. He was so choked up and everyone was in bits at this point but I just sat smiling, tears streaming down my face in awe of the way he speaks so highly of me. ❤️
“I did think, you better f**king keep this up, I want these essays on a daily basis.”
It was then time for the slideshow.
As if people weren’t already broken, I may have just broken them even further. Ryan returned to my side, we squeezed each other’s legs, I told him how amazing he was and then the music started…
“You’re broken down and tired, of living life on a merry-go-round, and you can’t find the fighter, but I see it in you so we gonna walk it out”… 🌙✨
This song behind these magical photos was enough to dagger anyone’s heart. I just rested my head on Ryan’s shoulder, his head tilted on mine and we reminisced our amazing 9 month journey.
The song had finished and that marked the end of the service, the time to say goodbye and the time to leave my girl behind.
That feeling will never leave me.
This photo is my last ever photo of my girl.
We took a single rose placed it on her casket, said goodbye and that we love her. It was nothing and nowhere near what I wanted to say but I wanted to make it as quick as possible and get some fresh air.
We held hands, gave each other a squeeze of relief and ‘we did it’ and walked out of the chapel doors and to our new normal.
“We had a moment together and felt a huge weight lift automatically off our shoulders.”
There was still one final thing to be done before everybody left which we kept a surprise. I told my sister to video and we released a white bird called George in memory of Luna.
George had been named after a previous baby and released at Luna’s service which is part of LeighAnne’s charity.
The amazing thing is that they now have a baby peace bird called Luna! 😍
Baby bird Luna will soon be ready to be released at future baby’s services and bring a smile to their parents and families faces.
What an incredible feeling.
After we released the white bird, LeighAnne brought me some petals from the rose we placed on Luna, and couple of the fake ones from the isle.
She wrapped it in tissue and handed them to me to keep in her memory box.
It really is the little things…
LeighAnne, this blog is dedicated to you, a real life angel. I will never be able to thank you enough for every single thing you did for us to make this bearable.
You captured my last ever photos of my precious Luna, and gave her the most perfect send off I could have ever visualised and gave me the strength to be a boss lady myself and start a legacy for my daughter.
Ryan, my perfect human. I can’t say anything other than we are just so proud of you. You are the walking, talking, real life example of a realman. One who respects, protects and loves what is his.
“So this is it, our new normal. What the f**k do we do with our lives now?”
…continued Wednesday 4th April.