HOUSTON — A man who said goodbye to his mother at her funeral last month will have to do it all over again after learning the wrong body was buried in the family's plot.
"I remember the days when she looked like this," said Bruce Lawson, looking at a photo of his mother, 81-year-old Edna Lawson, on the cover of a funeral program.
Days before, he thought he was saying goodbye to his mother.
"We were sending her back home to be with dad."
But on top of pain, Lawson said there were doubts when he went to identify his mother's body at Mabrie Memorial Mortuary.
"I said to her, I said, it doesn't look like my mom," Lawson said. "Do you think maybe you have the wrong body? Maybe it's someone else back there? And she said we don't make those kind of mistakes."
So the service carried on, the body was buried, the family trusting her appearance had changed through embalming.
"You always assume that the funeral home gets the right body," Lawson said.
But then the funeral home called saying they'd found his mother's body still at the funeral home.
Lawson went back to Mabrie Memorial.
"I said now that's my mother."
And that meant only one thing in a shared plot at Houston National Cemetery.
"Some other lady was placed on top of my dad, which was a WWII veteran, instead of my mom," he said.
Mabrie Memorial said they have exhumed that lady's body and will give her a proper burial. They have apologized to the Lawson family for what they called an inadvertent mistake and offered to bury her too.
Mabrie's statement reads in part:
"Last week, Mabrie Memorial Mortuary inadvertently mistook the body of Edna Lawson for another person also left in our care. The other body was buried in Mrs. Lawson's grave site on July 26, 2014, while Mrs. Lawson remained in our facilities, where she currently rests. ...
"We deeply regret that the Lawson family had to endure this temporary delay in properly transitioning their loved one and will do everything we can to make the remainder of their experience comfortable."
But now there's another problem: How to say goodbye a second time?
"You don't want to send the loved ones through that all over again so what do you do?" Lawson asked.
The family fears there's no way now to do justice to Edna Lawson's life and death.
"She wanted a spiritual way to leave this earth, but it got robbed from her and her spirit," Lawson said.