Now you lay me down to sleep,
I have already made it to my dear Lord's feet.
My soul rests with him,
and just know Daddy and Mommy we will meet again.
Every night as you close your eyes,
You say your prayers and I'll say mine.
We will always be together forever and ever all of the time.
July 13, 2012
Today is the day that we lay our sweet and precious Mary Martin to rest. Forrest and I had gathered and prepared everything the night before. I thought long and hard to make sure we had everything. With a very sleepless night we awoke very early. I curled my hair softly and put on very little make up. It wasn't knowing that I was going to cry it all of that kept me from getting all "dolled up" it was the fact that I wanted to look the same the first time I saw Mary Martin and the last time. This is me.......her mother. She didn't care if my face was swollen, or if I had any make up on at all. I know she loved me for me just like her daddy does. We headed out to the funeral home extra early because they were going to let us dress her and put her in her tiny little casket. We made sure every picture was in the perfect spot and the room was ready before we brought her in. I was extra sad because it was a gloomy, rainy day, but I knew in heaven she was shining. When we were ready they took us to a private room and brought our little princess in. I smiled as I picked my little Mary Martin up and kissed her little head. We took her beautiful hand made linen dress with pink bows and her initials monogrammed in pink on the front and dressed her. Forrest put her tiny little headband with her pink bow on her little head. Her daddy was dressed up, I was dressed up, and Mary Martin had her beautiful white dress on. We shared our "formal" first dance to "Marry Me." Her daddy held her in his hands and I held her little hand and we just danced. I wanted that song to play forever, but it couldn't. When it was over we both kissed her and laid her on her little pillow. We put her little bible we had bought and had her name put on in there with her. We held her hand, said a prayer, and closed her little casket up. I remember thinking, "God please take me with her. I don't know how I will go on without her." I wanted a sign, but didn't want to be selfish and ask for one. We placed her little casket on the table that was prepared with special pictures, and waited for her viewing to start. We also had a little table set up next to her for any cards, letters, or special things that anyone wanted to send with her. I will visit my daughter every single year on her birthday and I will sing to her and celebrate with my family, but I will never be able to give her that special card or special gift. We had gone to Hallmark the day before and I made sure to get birthday cards for her 1st, 5th, 16th, 18th, and 21st birthday. Each card had a very special message in it and the envelope was labeled with the date in which she was to open. Our boys made special cards, one even drew a picture of the St. Louis Arch on the front. We never went up in the Arch, but we could take 10 steps from our hotel and be at the bottom of the Arch, so we all got to see it as a family. Both of their cards also included a quarter so she would always have money with her. And her one and only baby doll that was an extra special gift was going to stay with her. She is going to be sitting on God's lap for a while as he reads all of the sweet letters and cards to her! As the viewing began we had picked out some special songs to play over and over. "My Girl" by The Temptations, "You are my Sunshine" sang by Celine Dion, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole (which was one of mine and Forrest's wedding songs), and "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry. As they played I would smile, and then I would cry. She was my girl, my sunshine, my rainbow, and she died way to young. I can honestly say that not one time did I ever think "This is not fair." I stood up front with my husband as a proud mommy, who knew her daughter was a servant of God, and would continue to be through us, and that was very fair. People started coming in, and I could not believe how long the line was. It warmed my heart every single time someone hugged me and said they had read our blog. When I was asked "What can I do for you?" The only 2 responses I could say and say so natural was "Please pray for us, and please share our story." I'm not sure how far our story will travel, but if just one seed is planted, if just one person is saved, and brought to know about Jesus then God's will has been done through our Mary Martin. As the services began they played "In the Arms of Angels" by Sara McLaughlin. I knew she was in the arms of greatness that would forever protect her better than I ever could. We had a beautiful slide show that was prepared by my sister with the most amazing song that played along to it. Frank Pevey the Associate Pastor at Longview Point shared highlights of our story and delivered a beautiful message. I know in his calling there are joyous occasions and there are devastating ones, and I know this was one that was not easy for him, but he went above and beyond in celebrating the life of our Mary Martin. We played "All of Me" by Matt Hammitt which was one of mine and her favorite songs. After all of the scripture was read and we prayed they played "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle. This was Mary Martin and Daddy's song. Forrest walked up front and stood in front of her. As it played "I drop to my knees by her bed at night" Forrest knelt beside her and broke down. Joncarlo and Hunter walked up there and knelt on each side of him and wrapped their arms around their daddy in front of their sister. I just cried...........in that moment I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my family was weak, but we ALL trusted in God and knew he was going to lead us and use us for wonderful things. As the song finished I walked up and put a cross around Forrest's neck. We had bought it the day before as a last gift to Daddy from Mary Martin. The first gift she ever gave her daddy was the movie "Courageous" for Father's Day. Forrest has never been one to wear any kind of jewelry other than his wedding band, but he promised his little girl that he would never take this off and every single time he went to tuck it in his shirt it would be a reminder to him of her amazing strength. We originally were going to close out the service with the song "Amazing Grace" by Chris Tomlin but we changed it to "Glory In the Highest" by Chris Tomlin. As it came on Forrest handed me the tiny little casket spray. With Joncarlo on one side and Hunter on the other we held the beautiful flowers. Forrest picked his daughter up and carried her out to the hearse. Me and the boys paused for just a moment as the chorus came on "Glory in the highest," with tears rolling down my face I looked up and in my heart thanked God for what he has done in my life. With 4 police escorts we made the short car ride to the cemetery. Forrest carried Mary Martin out to her final resting spot. I passed out roses to our family to lay next to her. After a brief message, a sweet prayer, and the roses were laid we said our goodbyes. We gave hugs and thanked everyone for coming and got in the truck. Forrest got back out to go and talk to the funeral directors. I had no idea what he was saying but I remember thinking that no one behind us could get out until we left. I debated on whether or not to go and get Forrest, or moving the truck myself so others could leave, but I waited. I knew whatever he was telling them was important to him and it was worth waiting. He finally came back to the truck, cranked it up, and there it was........my sign. We had not missed one single note of "Amazing Grace" by Chris Tomlin. That was my baby girl talking to me. Just like that through God's amazing grace it was her playing the song I needed to hear. Forrest looked out and said look at the weather. Neither of us had noticed until that moment that the rain had turned into sunshine. She was smiling down on us as she danced in heaven. Our journey is far from over, and I can't wait to see what he has in store for us. We may never know how far our journey travels, and how many lives are saved but I find peace in knowing that God used my little Mary Martin as the most humble servant and still is through her daddy and mommy. Not everyone is going to experience the loss of a child, but everyone will experience pain in some way. I pray that during that pain they come across our journey and it helps them find the peace and comfort they need to keep going. I appreciate everyone sharing our story and hope you continue to do so. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but one day I know that our Mary Martin will change the world! I will continue to post in our blog, because she is still here in spirit and I know that is what she would have wanted! Anyone wanting to make contributions they can be made to the "Mary Martin Fund" at any First Tennessee bank, or to the Down Syndrome Association of the Midsouth. We love each and every one of you!
Forrest, Christy, Joncarlo, Hunter, and Mary Martin Dunlop
Our sweet Mary Martin Dunlop
Mary Martin with our wedding bands on her tiny little arms, and the cross she gave to her daddy.
The precious white dress that she was buried in draped over a piece of McCarty pottery in the shape of Mississippi. Our wedding bands were placed where Hernando, MS is since that will be her final resting place.
Her "gift" table with all of her birthday cards, love letters, hand made cards, and her baby doll.
The 2 cards our boys made for their little sister.
The book "God always has a Plan B" that helped us understand.
Our daughter, our Angel, our Mary Martin!
We love you always!