You raise your oldest child to be your oldest child. They are the ones you can usually count on to move into adulthood with you before the younger children, to look out for you and your spouse, to help make some decisions, to talk to about plans when you can't care for yourself anymore.
They are not supposed to be buried before you.
Peter William Lauritzen was our oldest child. He was born when we were still growing up ourselves. He's the one we made our parenting blunders on.
He was the oldest of our four children. They were stairsteps, for the fourth one was born when Peter was only five years old. He didn't like the other kids coming along, for he enjoyed being with just us. But, they kept on coming.
He grew into a handsome young man, developing his piano talents along the way. He truly had a musical gift, for when he played, people would stop in their tracks to listen to him play.
After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he fell into a lifestyle completely foreign to us. It took him further and further away from family and the values he had been raised with. He became someone we didn't recognize anymore.
He delved deeper into drugs and alcohol and illicit moral activity. His body became ravaged and diseased. It was difficult to recognize him anymore.
One afternoon, after spending time with my son and his family, I came home to hear the phone ringing. Though there were many things to do after being gone all day, I knew I had to answer it. After a few questions from those on the other end, I knew what was coming. Peter had died.
I quickly got in touch with my sons and my husband. All of them rushed home. Through the evening, these young men guided their parents into thinking straight. I was scheduled for surgery the next day. Peter's body and belongings were in Florida. While the world was spinning around me, I felt strangely still.
Now, nearly three years later, Peter's stone is in place. It took me awhile. There were many times that Kerry and I drove to the monument company to look over stones and make a selection. But, after driving there, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
But now, it's done. His final resting place is marked. There's nothing more I can do for him.
But, parents just are supposed to outlive their kids. It's not supposed to work that way...but, sometimes it does.
Rest in peace, my beloved son...