A farewell fit for a superhero
We often thought over the few short months Archie was with us, what we would like for his funeral, should it end that way. Every now and then we raised the topic. We discussed a few options, but then never got very far. The simple fact is, planning a funeral for a baby is something no one should have to think about. Babies shouldn’t have to leave the world only after just arriving.
But, we found ourselves in a position I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. We had to arrange a funeral for our 5 1/2-month-old baby boy, Archie. As most of you know, Archie was born prematurely, along with his Twin Brother, Henry at 30+4. Whilst Henry was born with no serious medical conditions, Archie was born with an incurable unknown rare lung disease. The full story of Archie can be read here.
Archie’s funeral was held on Thursday, 24 January, 2019. One week after Archie’s high flow was removed.
We would like to thank Hanneke Raap who volunteers her services to Hummingbird House and captured these memories for our family.
We couldn’t find a location that was meaningful to us as a family. Archie spent his entire life in hospital, so finding a funeral home and crematorium that was meaningful to us was difficult.
While talking with Elham, the Family Support Manager at Hummingbird House, we realised the perfect location for Archie’s funeral was, in fact, Hummingbird House. It was the place where Archie spent his final night, under the stars and away from the hospital. It just felt right.
A very unconventional funeral. After all, what is normal about a funeral for a baby? We wanted something special, something unique for Archie and a farewell fit for our little superhero.
It was an evening service. We started with a casual BBQ dinner on the grassed area at Hummingbird House. There were beanbags set up with a photo slideshow playing for guests to enjoy while they had some dinner.
Guests made their way down to the large mango tree in the back garden. This is where we spent the evening with Archie. This space has so much meaning to us as a family, and to be able to share that with our closest friends and family was really nice.
With the trees lined with fairy lights, it really took us back to the night under the stars with Archie. Guests lined the paths, scattered around the garden.
Steven and I were getting prepared in the Hummingbird Suite, where Archie was resting. When it came time for Steven to pick up Archie, who was resting in a beautiful Moses Basket, the reality really sunk in. Steven was about to carry our son, on his own, to the service. How incredibly difficult for a father to have to do.
When we arrived and placed Archie on the deck, we placed the wreath of flowers on the top. These flowers were thoughtfully made by Karen at Compassionate Funerals. The colours of red and green, for us, symbolised the colours of the Poinciana tree we sat under the week prior. And, the three roses at the centre of the wreath symbolised me, Steven and Henry.
A memory by Hennie & Joan du Preez…
Everybody fell in love with you…
Beautiful words written by Steven’s parents, Hennie & Joan. If you would like to read this, click the below link.
We don’t know why you were born with those lungs, a rare and incurable lung condition
When preparing for Archie’s service and deciding on something meaningful, I was asked what Archie loved. Instantly, I responded with his links! Andre, the Pastor who officiated the service, then suggested that perhaps we could use the links as a symbol of all being connected; during times of joy, as well as times of grief.
Each person at the service received a link and these links were joined together and placed on Archie’s basket.
He loved these so much. He would hold and play with them for hours. So, for us, they have significant meaning.
Sometimes when you wish for a miracle, you get two
Writing this was hard. I didn’t even know where to start. I sat down at late one night and just started writing. There were so many things I wanted to write, but I knew if I did, I wouldn’t have been able to get through it at the service. So, I wrote a story based on facts and with a few personal stories in there and shared our love with our little boy during a personal moment later in the evening.
Our little superhero kept defying the odds
Lighting of Candles
This was a beautiful idea by Elham. Steven and I lit our candles from the one next to Archie. We then lit our families candles and continued through the guests. When we looked back at our guests, it was a really beautiful moment.
Farewell Archie, our superhero…
Steven, again, had the incredibly difficult task of carrying Archie out to the hearse. We suddenly realised this was it. This was the last time we would be with our boy. Steven placed Archie into the back of the hearse and we said our goodbye’s to our little superhero. There is something so wrong with seeing a baby’s Moses basket in the back of a hearse. It’s so small. It shouldn’t have to happen.
And like that, it was over. It was absolutely perfect. We could not have asked for anything more for our little man. It was the perfect send-off for a perfect little boy.
Sharing our story…
We were approached by the Courier Mail and the Sunshine Coast Daily newspapers who wanted to write a story on Archie. We were blown away.
Our Facebook Page, du Preez, was started well before we had children. It was designed as a platform where we could share photos of our future children and not bombard our personal facebook pages. What it became was so much more than that. It became a central platform where we could update family and friends on the twins, particularly Archie. There are people following Archie’s story all around the world, people we don’t know who send us well wishes.
Archie has touched so many hearts across the globe. My hope is by sharing our story, we will help another family out there in a similar situation. Although it is not a ‘happy ending’ as such, for us it was. We got time with our little superhero, time we didn’t think we would get. A Christmas we didn’t think we would have. We made memories that will last us a lifetime.
Thank you for reading our story. Thank you for allowing us to share our experience with you.