Sunday, March 26, 2017

Grief Journal: Integrity

Bugle played Taps at the fireman’s funeral
Broke my hidden heart
Blessed with tears for my brother
My brother, who is gone

I've recently had the opportunity to practice what I preach. The first came a week ago last Friday, and is referred to in the poem above.  I attended the funeral of Wilbur W, the husband of my co-worker Dianna.  Coincidentally, Wilbur served on the first crew to respond to the incident at the Murrah Federal Building on April 19.  Two firefighters served as his color guard prior to the service.  I was quite impressed by the dignity and ceremony.  At the end of the service, the older of the two served as a bugler, playing Taps.

I wept. 

The receiving line was long and slow.  We walked single file by the open casket, with little space to look away, through two doorways, to where the widow stood.  We were told that she wanted to hug every person in the line.  She seemed delighted to see me, and the co-worker who had come with.  I had no words - I was still recovering from the bugler's threnody.  I simply held her until she loosened her hold.

I pray she found as much comfort in that warm embrace as I did.

The second incident was last Sunday.  Remember when I wrote that my task was to accept even the most awkward comforting words in the spirit in which they were intended?  I got a chance to practice that a week ago today.  Oddly enough, these interactions seem to happen with people I tend to avoid.  This person undoubtedly considers himself a friend - he's a fellow well-met, as we say, and likely considers no one an enemy.  My emotional response to him has been one of caution - I tend to be suspicious of bonhomie; it can feel false, like a used car salesman.

All that is background.

He called me over.  Said something like, "How you doing?"  I made the traditional non-committal response of "OK."  Then he said, "Well, you've got a whole community of brothers and sisters to support you, don't you." 

I can only wonder if he was an only child. 

I smiled and thanked him, then moved on elsewhere.

Coincidentally, saw him at the library.  He noticed me; I waved and quickly moved the opposite direction, like a man on a mission.

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