Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oliver's Funeral

 Monday, February 20, 2012 - Oliver's Funeral

July 11, 2001 - February 16, 2012

WATERLOO - Oliver Young Palmer, 10, of Waterloo, died Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Cedar Valley Hospice Home.  

He was born July 11, 2001, in Waterloo, son of Edward and Stacy Boardsen Palmer. He was a fifth-grade student at Fred Becker Elementary School, formerly Edison Elementary School.

Survived by: his parents of Waterloo; a sister, Eden at home; two brothers, Jaren and Phineas, both at home; paternal grandparents, David and Janine Palmer of Waterloo; maternal grandparents, John and Ellen Boardsen of Waterloo; maternal grandmother, Karen Young of Waterloo; paternal great-grandfather, Edward Solie of Utah; and maternal great-grandparents, Warren and Margaret Young of Clinton.

Preceded in death by: paternal grandparents, Freeman and Mahala Palmer; paternal great-grandmother, Eva Solie; maternal great-grandparents, Einar and Phyllis Boardsen; and a stepuncle, Alex Swygman.

Services: 11 a.m. Monday at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at Garden and Pleasant Drive, Cedar Falls, with private family committal in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Visitation from 4 to 8 p.m. today at Hagarty-Waychoff-Grarup Funeral Service on South Street.

Memorials: may be directed to the Oliver Palmer Benefit Account at Veridian Credit Union, in lieu of flowers.

Oliver enjoyed playing baseball, fishing, archery, camping, playing video games, watching movies, and teaching himself how to play the piano. He loved the Iowa Hawkeyes football and basketball teams. He enjoyed attending the Dance Marathon, but most of all he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.


Before Oliver's funeral started, a few close friends and family members met in the Relief Society room at church where Oliver was.  This was our final time to say our goodbyes to him before they closed the casket.  During his last MRI in November we met with someone who gave us books to read to the other kids about death and a few other things.  We received some pewter hearts to place in the casket with Oliver so we would always be with him.  We also had gotten some bracelets that say 'Always with me'.  I didn't cry as much as I thought I would on this day.  I thought I would be a blubbering mess, but I was quite at ease.  I think it is a gift given to grieving parents to be able to plan an unexpected funeral and get through the days in one piece.  I was very introspective and just thinking of him the entire day.  It was the last time we touched Oliver's sweet face.  The last time we ran our finger down his slightly upturned nose.  I was the first one to touch him after his birth and I had to be the last to touch him.  After everyone filed out of the room we said our goodbyes to him and they closed the casket.  That was a difficult moment and one that replays in my memory often.

Ed and me with Oliver
Having Oliver kiss the pewter heart that I will always keep.
Holding Phineas as he points to Oliver.  How do I explain this to a two year old?

We followed behind Oliver as they wheeled him down the hallway and into the chapel of the church.  I remember seeing many of the same fire fighters and police officers that were at his visitation the night before and many new ones as they lined the hallway and were seated on the stand behind the pulpit.  We sat up in the front of the church right beside him.  Again... I was still not bawling, although I did get teary eyed as people talked about him and we sang songs that we'd sing to Oliver when he was alive and while he was at the hospice house.  We had talked to him about planning his funeral and wondered what songs he wanted and who he wanted to speak because it was still a special rite in his life so we wanted him to be involved if he wanted to be.  We asked him about including the song "I am a Child of God" and he replied, "No... that one is so overused..."  Always cracking jokes and making light of things.  I loved that about him.  It was hard discussing his funeral, but we were up front and honest with him about the possibility of his death from the start so he knew that it could happen although we would never dwell on it.  We wanted to live life to the fullest every day that we had with him... and... for the most part... we did.  We made so many memories in the last two years of his life that will stay with all of us forever.

Opening Prayer - Reggie Esplin
Opening Song - "Come, Come Ye Saints"
Child Speakers - Nick Heinz & Cecilia
Musical number - "Nearer, My God, to Thee" Wawro Family (Ed's sister and her family)
Speaker - Meghan Gillespie
Speaker - Garran Gillespie
Musical number - "Be Still, My Soul" Joe Schany
Speaker - Ed Palmer - Father
I will never look at the moon in the same way again.  I always think of Oliver now...

After C.S. Lewis' wife died, he wrote of his naturalistic thoughts that occur after the loss of a loved one and concluded these thoughts with this observation: “Why do I make room in my mind for such filth and nonsense? Do I hope that if feeling disguises itself as thought I shall feel less? Aren't all these notes the senseless writhing of a man who won't accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it? Who still thinks there is some device (if only he could find it) which will make pain not to be pain. It doesn't really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist's chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on.”

So in my mind, the question arises, why is it then that we suffer? For me, if I could but behold Oliver in his new habitation, I could bed all my fears (or so I tell myself). So why is it then that I have not received a vision of how happy Oliver is, or that he has not taken me in hand and said, “Dad, this is where I live. Einar and Phyllis Boardsen are wonderful! Mahala and Freeman Palmer so kind.” Why is it then that we suffer? Does God love to see us writhe? Every year I try and give Eden, Jaren and Finn flu shots. Do I enjoy looking down on my two year old's screaming face with great drops of tears welling in the corners of his eyes so big they could water the sierra, and that terrified look in his face that screams at me, how could you be holding me down while these nurses are causing me such pain? God forbid. Rather, it is because I have come to know that with the pain of the flu shot is born the greater ability to fight off the flu virus in the coming months. I see a bigger picture then my two year old could possible fathom at the time. Elder Callister put it this way:

“One of the ironies of life is that we acquire love as we give it away; we increase in knowledge as we dispense what we have. And so it is with certain powers. As we exercise power in unrighteousness, we lose even more than we “gave away”. It is but a reflection of the parable of the talents.

“The Savior exercised power as he endured the consequences of sin, withstood pain, and eventually relinquished his life. Moroni cautioned, “Deny not the power of God: for he worketh by power” (Moroni 10:). The exercise of those powers necessary to endure the sufferings of all mankind may in turn have opened the door to the additional powers needed to resurrect, to redeem, and to exalt. The celestial chorus (that John the Revelator heard) will one day sing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power (Revelations 5:12). Note the reference to the future receipt of power. The Lamb seems to receive new power after he is slain. The scriptures make it clear that the Savior could not have resurrected man if he had not first died. Paul made reference to this necessary sequence when he observed that “through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb 2:14). Alma alluded to this same causal connection: “He will take upon him death”--why--”that he may loose the bands of death” (Alma 7:12). Later he would preach, “The death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death” (Alma 11:42). Each of these prophets taught that the death of the Savior was a necessary prerequisite to the resurrection of man. Out of the death of One was born the power of everlasting life for all. The Savior also taught this principle: “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

“One might wonder, could the Savior redeem us from spiritual death of if he had not first suffered the consequences of our sins: Or, could he exalt an ordinary individual if he had not first internalized the woes of mortals? On one hand, the Atonement was an exercise of incredible power, enabling Christ to endure the total human plight. On the other hand, the atoning process was the acquisition and then the manifestation of incredible power to overcome that plight, as demonstrated by the power to resurrect, to redeem, and to exalt. Could it be that the exercise of the power to endure was essential to the acquisition of the power to overcome? Was the latter power born out of the former?”
I would like to close with an analogy of the moon.

Many theories abound as to how the moon was born. I believe God used laws to create this Universe and all things therein. Scientist have struggled to understand what laws God used in creating our solar system and especially our earth and moon. Who among us has not had our breathe stolen from us when we gaze upon a full moon that looks close enough that we could almost get a tall ladder and reach up and touch it? However, it must be remembered that the beauty of the moon is actually a reflection of the sun. For me this is a fitting analogy of Oliver! He has become a moon to me. One theory that scientists have postulated about the birth of the moon is that a large celestial object about the size of Mars collided with earth and the violence of that collision caused the earth to grow to its current size because the earth swallowed the celestial body. A side effect of the collision was that a large rock was ejected from earth and began orbiting around our earth and became our moon. This theory would explain why the moon is not really made of cheese but rather has been found to be made of basalt from volcanic eruptions and minerals, which are exactly the kinds of rocks we find here on the earth. Interesting to me is that the moon is about the same age as the earth, so when the Savior created the earth, He also created the moon. In Genesis we read that the first day the earth was found without form and void and in this same day Jesus created light, and when He saw the light and that it was good, God divided the light from the darkness and called the light Day and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Interesting but seeming pointless tangent to my analogy is the earth was void, meaning there was no life upon it. There is no organic material in moon dust like there is in our dust because to have organic material you need plant and animal life to break down and mix with the dust, but when the earth and moon were made on the first day it was void so no organic material was ever on the moon.) I guess where I am trying to go here is Oliver was one of us and a violent collision happened December 23rd 2009 that shook me to the core when I got a phone call from Dr. Suh explaining to me that your little man has a pontine glioma. He fought to stay with us for over two years but finally went to take his place in our solar system, and he continues to literally steal away my breath when I look upon his beauty and I am reminded that just like the moon is reflecting the light of the sun, Oliver reflects the light of The Son—even the Son of God. So next time you look up at the moon and you turn to your loved one your are with and exclaim, WOW! Look at that full moon, think of Oliver. The moon goes through four stages and when it is full it is receiving the most light from the son and gives the night the most light. I saw that Oliver was someone who could align his life nearly all the time in the full position and I could see God better because of him. That's not to say that my life is always dark as night...I have the ability to see the sun shine when it is day, but night comes for me, just like I suspect it comes for all of you at times...and during those times, it helps me to look upon the 10 years I shared with Oliver as a moon unto me.

I began with a quote from C.S. Lewis, let me close with another:

C.S. Lewis said, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”

Speaker - Stacy Palmer - Mother
I didn't think that I would be able to get up and speak after Ed, but surprisingly, I felt that I could.  I had jotted some things down that I wanted to remember, but mainly read a bit and then spoke from my heart.  I wanted to let people know that they can say his name and that will be how he is remembered.
Thank you for all of the love, support and prayers throughout the last two years. I know I've struggled with feeling alone at times, but I am truly grateful for all of the things that have been done for Oliver and our entire family. It's what keeps us going.

I now have a renewed reason for living and enduring to the end. Someone special is waiting for me and will most likely be helping me get through each day. I want to be able to raise him in the next life... to start where we left off. I am so grateful for that knowledge that if we are worthy in this life, we will have that chance. I just pray that I have faith like a child. Faith like Oliver. He was such a spiritual kid and always has been... right up until the end. What an example he was and still is to me. I hope that I can be one tenth of the person he is, to have inspired so many people to do good.

Please don't forget him. That is the fear of so many other families that have lost a child. I know that you most likely don't want to upset us, but we will have not forgotten that he lived. We will be sad, but we will also have that joy and those memories to keep him alive in our hearts until we can see him again.

Thank you for all of the memories that you have allowed us to make with him. The cards, the trips, the special events that he was able to be a part of. Those things will stay with us always. Please remember Oliver. That is all a mother can ask for is that her sweet boy is remembered and not forgotten. It gives me a small measure of peace to know that he passed right now for a certain reason. I may not know why now... but I will someday... we all will know why someday, but until then... remember him and keep him close to you because he will still be with all of us only in a different way.

Speaker - Bishop Gary Fagersten
Speaker - President Steve Oesterle
Closing Song - "God Be With You Til We Meet Again"
Closing Prayer - Lindsay Evans

I didn't realize how many people were in attendance at Oliver's funeral until I got up to speak and I was utterly amazed at the number of people there were.  He had truly inspired and touched many people's lives and I hope that he realized that today.  I hope he realized it when he was still alive with all of the cards that people had sent him telling him how he'd inspired them.  I hope he realized it when people kept their porch lights on for him all around the world after he had passed.  I hope he realizes it every time someone speaks his name or shares a memory of him with someone else.  I have no doubt in my mind that he can still hear us.  I know that he has impacted my life in an amazing and unforgettable way and I will always be bound to him.  I WILL see him again someday.  That gives me peace.  Thank you to EVERYONE that came to Oliver's funeral.  I know we didn't have time to talk to many people as we headed straight over to the cemetery, but I am so grateful that you came to honor our Ollie.  Also, thank you to everyone that helped in preparation and participating today.  It means more than you know...


After the funeral we followed Oliver out of the chapel and down to the hearse.  The funeral procession was lead by two police cars, side by side down University Avenue (the largest thoroughfare in the city with three lanes on either side) and a fire engine, followed by Oliver and then the car we were in.  It was AMAZING and I had no idea it would be such a tribute to Oliver.  As we left the church we saw the chief of police as well as the fire chief and another officer saluting.  At each traffic light there was a squad car and officers stopping traffic and saluting as Oliver went by.  I'm in tears just writing about it.  It was just so overwhelming.  We passed by our fire station on the corner of University and Ansborough and a few guys were outside saluting.  As we came to the cemetery, the fire trucks were blocking the street by the entrance and they were all lined up next to them saluting when Oliver passed.  It was unbelievable to experience.  Ollie would have been so proud and would have felt so important!  I was so grateful to those that pulled their cars over as we passed to honor Oliver.  Again... THANK YOU to the fire fighters and police officers for honoring Oliver in such a way.  We will never forget it...

Waterloo Police Chief and Fire Chief
Saluting as we left the church building.



It is unusual for Iowa to not have any snow on the ground in February, but there certainly was a bone chilling wind that day!  All of the pall bearers, made up of Ed and his brothers as well as my brothers, headed over to get Oliver and when they did, a couple of Oliver's best friends asked if they could help, which I didn't know until later.  They are the sweetest boys...
L to R:Uncle Bryan and Uncle Chad (my two brothers), Ollie's brother, Jaren, Uncle Bill, Grandpa Palmer, Uncle Aaron, Uncle Randy, Uncle Matt, Uncle Danny, Uncle Eric, Uncle Jared and Ed

Everyone paying their respects to Oliver and laying flowers on his casket.
Grandma Palmer

Uncle Chad and Great Grandma Young
Aunt Kari, Cousins Aubrey and Derrick
Eden placing a flower on Ollie's casket.

Ed, Jaren, me, Phineas and Eden placing our hands on the casket.

The kids' hand prints so they will always be with Oliver.

The top piece of the vault that was specially made and the family signed.

After everyone, but our immediate family left, we stayed to watch them lower him into the ground.  I wanted the kids, especially Jaren and Finn to see where he would be.  Jaren asked us if he was going to be afraid of the dark.  We talked about where his body would be and where his spirit would be as well.  It is so difficult to hear some of the things that Jaren says now that he's gone.

Our family now...


The family dinner later on that evening.  We decided not to have a luncheon directly afterwards for several reasons, but I was sad to see that so many of our family couldn't stay.  I had forgotten that they'd have to travel back home for work the following day.  Thank you to everyone that made food and helped with setting up and serving.  We really appreciated it!

Since it was a Monday night we thought we'd have FHE (Family Home Evening).  In our church we set aside Monday evenings to spend time with our families.  We have a prayer, sing songs, a scripture verse, a lesson, treats and an activity.  Since we had lots of family visiting I thought it would be fitting to have an FHE in honor of Oliver's life.  We had some cut out hearts that we each wrote three things we loved or remembered about Oliver or how he'd inspired us and then went around the circle telling everyone what we wrote.  We laughed a lot and cried sitting there remembering our sweet boy.  He was such a happy kid and will be so missed.

Chad, Bry and my mom, Karen

Ed's family

We will see your sweet face again someday and every day after...


Anonymous said...

I am so terribly sorry for your loss. RIP Oliver. I know you are at peace now.

Dee Costa said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I am still crying. I promise I will never forget Oliver, he'll always be in my heart.

Amy said...

Stacy and Ed,

As I read this, I was so overwhelmed with love for your family. Thank you for sharing this. And, I never have looked at the moon in the same way again.

Missing Ollie.

Love, hugs, and prayers,

Amy Halterman
Richmond, Virginia

Ty said...

Thank you for sharing. Also I think it's great that you have the links at the bottom for the stories of other children with DIPG. There's one child that I know personally and it made me smile to see his name down there. I hope nothing but the best for your family :)

Stephanie said...

That was pretty much amazing to read! We won't ever forget Oliver! Thanks for sharing.