As I pulled up and parked at the cemetery today, the horses pulling the caisson rounded the corner, coming straight for me. I stared at them, and the men riding them. I made eye contact with each one. (The men, not the horses) :) With a little nod, and tears in my eyes…I could tell they all knew I was a widow. I always go to the cemetery after 3 p.m. to try and avoid hearing the gunshots, and seeing those horses pulling a casket, and hearing the bugler play Taps. It is too fresh. Too difficult. It brings me back to April 16, 2009, when I went to Arlington National Cemetery for the first time ever in my life --- Frankie talked about it, and the honor he held for it --- and now his body would be laid to rest there.
I remember every second, every feeling there that day.
I took a single white rose and laid it upon that silver shining metal, which I had to choose to enclose your body in. I looked to the sky before I set it down, thinking…why? Is this real? Is he really in here? Thinking how much I love this man, and I felt him shining down on me. I wanted to drape myself over your coffin, but I could barely touch it…thinking your lifeless body was actually inside. It has to be wrong…you aren’t in here. You are on some secret mission that they couldn’t tell me about. So I lay the rose down, that simple white rose --- Purity --- I know if anyone had reached their level of perfection on earth…it was you and your beautiful, pure soul. I walk back to my chair, and I crumble into my hands and sob, for a second…but then I hear others starting to cry harder around me….I have to be strong….I say out loud, "I’m Okay”...But I’m not….and never will be...Until we meet again.
I remember pulling away from the cemetery that horrible day…but I didn’t want to leave. I have one smile at Arlington in the pictures. But it isn’t a real one. The director of Frankie’s funeral kept telling me I had to leave because people were going to surround me to offer their sympathies. I was doing my pissed off, fake smile…like are you serious, man? I need to bury my husband. Give me a second.
But he had to get me and the family out of there as quickly as possible, so the crowd would disperse, so they could place Frankie in the ground. A part of me wanted to run out of the car, and stay until the last spec of dirt was placed atop of his coffin. All of me wanted to be under the ground with him.
I latched onto that flag like I haven’t anything before. Someone offered to hold it for me until I got to the hotel. I outright refused. This is his. He is mine. This flag is his blood. This flag is forever mine.
I still cannot believe this.
(P.S. Putting these images along with my thoughts was not an easy decision. I hope they stay only on my blog --- Thank you --- Love, B).