He's between his mom and I, seatbelted in, quiet as can be. The perfect child.
Trish put his blanket overtop of him to keep him warm. Just like she held his hand for hours after he died because that was the only way it wouldn't be cold.
I thought I'd be more affected by the plastic box they gave us at the funeral home this morning. It is, after all, all that's physically left of my boy. It represents all the things I'll never get to do with him, all the pain of loss, a wish trip only half-finished.
But it's also just a thing. The memories are more valuable now, and there are so many ways to keep that fire burning.
Others are doing it with us at the moment, releasing balloons for the second time in a week during halftime of the CFL football game in Calgary Monday. When we switched planes in Dallas we got to see video and photos of it; it was wonderful.
The #dominicstrong T-shirts are more popular than expected, closing in on 200 sold. And the donations to the Alberta Children's Hospital through my Extra Life page topped US$10,000, ensuring Trish will cut a foot of hair off at the mini golf fundraiser Sept. 12. A shaved head (US$20,000 before Nov. 7) seems almost a certainty now.
The memorial service is closer to official too, with the 750-seat Esplanade theatre in Medicine Hat booked for Monday, Sept. 14. I think it's 2 p.m. but check this blog later in case I find out otherwise. Family have booked hotel rooms; there's a Facebook event where I've asked folks to help us know how many people to expect.
We've started talking about the service and want it to be a mixture of emotion. No way can he be remembered without some laughs and smiles, thumbs-up's and high fives. But the death of a child is also exponentially sad, and that deserves to be present as well.
Trish said she wouldn't cry today. I told her that was a ridiculous idea. She got through the funeral home OK, with another round of apologies finally concluded with handing over the "travel urn" that's safest and least conspicuous to fly with. She got through check-in, where the lady at the counter turned out to also work at Give Kids the World where we stayed for the wish trip before things went bad.
But when an American Airlines staffer in Dallas told us how he can't imagine what we're going through, she couldn't help but tear up. And I was glad, because today is a day to cry (and drink wine).
Once the airline heard about our story on Twitter, they bent over backwards to try and help. It was nice but honestly we didn't need it. I think the toughest part of grieving will happen long after this wave of support, like on his birthday, or Christmas, or a random Sunday morning at home when we listen and don't hear his infectious laugh.
In the same way we had to learn to say yes and thank you when folks wanted to help after his diagnosis, we are glad for the extra help today. We may not realize how much we need it.