We were home, planning on taking a step forward with our lives. But we couldn’t step very far because we had to plan Pipsqueaks funeral. How on earth are you supposed to do that? That’s something that no human should ever have to do.
We quickly knew that it wouldn’t be a church or any form of religious funeral. We were introduced to Humanists UK a few years ago, when we gave Evelyn a “Naming Ceremony”. Very much like a Christening or Baptism, but no formality, just very personal to be. We loved it and we’d booked in a joint Naming Ceremony for the twins to be in the November just gone, but cancelled because Pippa was poorly, and then rescheduled for the end of January – but obviously, it never happened.
When it came to planning her funeral, we went straight to them. We contacted the lady who did Evelyn’s naming ceremony but unfortunately wasn’t qualified to hold funeral services. She put us in with a lovely lady called, Val. She came to see us and we went through how we wanted to shape the funeral. It was to be simple, nothing extravagant, and we didn’t want a hearse where Pippa’s little coffin would be on show on our way to the crematorium. Val contacted us just a few days later with a draft order of service, and pretty much had it bang on first time. We’d picked some poems, Hannah had written a eulogy, and we picked some songs to be played.
A friend of mine kindly offered to design Pippa’s order of service and once she sent it to me, I took it to the printers. It was then I just had a huge wave of sadness, I just remember standing in the shop, thinking about what was happening. The leaflets were absolutely beautiful, perfect for Pippa, however it left me feeling very sad knowing that we were getting close to her funeral.
Pippa’s body was at a funeral directors in Leeds city centre. I wanted to see her, I wanted to know she was ok and still looked peaceful. Hannah couldn’t, it would be too painful. I spent around 20 minutes with her, she felt so cold, her lips were very dark, but she still looked so beautiful. Pippa & Penny were officially identical twins, but they didn’t look too much alike due to their size difference. But seeing Pippa laying there so peaceful, she looked just like her twin.
When all the arrangements were in place, we just had to wait for the day to come. In the morning before her service, I’d requested Pippa came home. I wanted us to be a family of 5 in our home one last time. It was the first time we’d see her coffin. It was a bit longer than I’d imagined, but still incredibly painful to see, let alone carry. I brought her in to the house and placed her on a small table in our front room. The funeral director asked if we wanted to see her. We were all very hesitant, but we decided on yes. We wanted to see her gorgeous cheeks one last time. She unscrewed the top and lifted the lid off, Pippa looked perfect, all snuggled up with her superbear comforter. She was covered back up and we placed her flowers on top. Our family began to arrive, to spend a few last moments with her before the funeral.
Our family left and went to the crematorium. Hannah, Evelyn and Penny all got in to the limousine, I followed carrying my daughters coffin. We travelled slowly with Pippa on my lap. As we arrived, we stood outside and took a few breaths. Hannah was carrying Penny and holding Evelyns hand. I walked in front with Pippa. I placed her down and we took our seats. Val gave the most beautiful service for Pip, it was perfect. We invited some neonatal nurses to be with us at the funeral and asked if one of the nurses could read a poem. It was read beautifully, but was extremely difficult to not only hear, but read. Nicola, thank you so much for doing that for Pippa – we love you. We all stood at the front while Hannah read Pippa’s eulogy – I couldn’t look up, I was too afraid to see everyone and see any more sadness.
At the end of her service we’d chosen a more uplifting song to be played, a song with such strong and meaningful lyrics. Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart” was played out, which Evelyn now calls “Pippa’s Song”. There’s a few lines in that song that give me goosebumps every time I hear it.
“When destiny calls you, you must be strong I may not be with you But you got to hold on”
“'Cause you'll be in my heart Believe me you'll be in my heart I'll be there from this day on Now and forever more”
And the song finishes with
“Just look over your shoulder I'll be there Always”
All words that I wish Pippa could hear and understand.
Standing up and leaving that room was so hard to do. Leaving our daughter behind, never to get the opportunity to see her or be with her again.
In the weeks that followed, we spent time in America at my Dads and scattered some of Pippa’s ashes on Hawk Hill in San Francisco. Hannah and I both decided to try and make something positive come of Pippa’s life. Her short life has to make a positive change to others. So from that moment on, we’ve started fundraising and raising awareness, moving on to improving bereavement care for other families.