HOUSTON -- A man who said goodbye to his mother at her funeral earlier this week 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 on the cover of a funeral program.
Bruce held the same program three days ago, when he thought he was saying goodbye to his mother, 81-year-old Edna Lawson.
"We were sending her back home to be with dad."
But on top of pain, Bruce says there were doubts when he came to identify his mother's body here at Mabrie Memorial Mortuary.
"I said to her, I said, it doesn't look like my mom," said Bruce. "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," said Bruce.
But then came a stunning phone call from Mabrie Memorial, saying they'd found Mrs. Lawson's body still at the funeral home. So Bruce came back.
"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," said Brice.
Mabrie Memorial told KHOU11 they've now exhumed that lady's body and will give her a proper burial. They've apologized to the Lawson family for what they called an inadvertent mistake and offered to bury her too. 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?" asked Bruce.
The family fears there's no way now to do justice to Edna Lawson's life and death.
Bruce said, "She wanted a spiritual way to leave this earth but it got robbed from her and her spirit."
As a woman who lived with joy, still waits to rest in peace.
The following is the full statement from Mabrie Memorial Mortuary:
"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. The other body has been exhumed and will be properly buried. Mrs. Lawson will be buried in her grave site next to her family members within the coming days.
When Mabrie Memorial Mortuary discovered the mix up, we immediately contacted the affected families, apologized for the error, and took all appropriate steps to rectify the situation. We have also taken steps to insure that a similar situation does not happen in the future. Mabrie Memorial Mortuary has been a community partner for over 17 years providing memorial services to and quality healing experiences for families in the Houston area. 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."