It’s Veteran’s Day.
John’s funeral was one year ago today.
His honor guard was made of friends and strangers, but all brothers in arms.
I got Ft. Hood to grant special permission for the honor guard to be at the ceremony an hour later than usual regs.
Friends came in from around the US to pay their respects.
Almost our entire wedding party was there for me. Save two. One of whom is in Germany.
My brother by blood came in from the north-west and stayed a few days to help me, as did our uncle.
My father and my step sister came and helped take down and clean the hall I rented.
I’d paid a non-refundable upfront cleaning fee to the city to make sure we didn’t have to worry about cleanup.
But as it turned out, half of everyone helped clean up anyway, while people stood in line waiting to talk to me.
I shouldn’t have paid the fee.
Our local American Legion let me borrow their colors and sent a representative.
The room was filled with veterans, officers, students from John’s classes, close friends and colleagues from work.
But also there were alumni from the theology college where we met. Aside from John’s sister, parents, the kids and I.
Our chosen brothers and sisters were there. As were our adopted nephews and nieces and other family we choose.
John’s and my special little ones from Houston came, the oldest of which came up to me at the head of the line. He was trying to hold it all in. When I reached for him, he let go and fiercely hugged me, bawling.
I held him and we cried together, while everyone watched.
It’s ok honey. You can cry. You don’t have to be strong. I love you. John loves you. It’ll always be so.
Friends from a variety of facets within John’s life spoke about him, his guitar playing, his singing, his service in the military, his instructing that saved lives. And then there were the 4 of our adopted girls, who expounded on the father figure he was to them. The good man they recognized him to be.
Some people didn’t know John could sing opera. Some people didn’t know he played guitar. Some people didn’t know he was another dad to a gaggle of young adults. Some didn’t know he had a theology degree and could have been a minister. But there were countless words shared with me that night about how John had changed someone’s life.
His brothers in arms made sure everything was right, that John’s honors were prepared properly.
They chose as well to give him the honor of a powerful Roll Call.
It was a simple funeral, at a city facility, but with much love and grace.
And today, I didn’t know how to spend myself.
I wanted to reach out and find his hand.
And I resented that I had things I had to do instead of sitting and trying to hear his voice.
I looked through one of his military deployment bags and found his wallet photos of the kids and I from his first deployment. It was stuck inside a box of allergy meds. And later I saw a hawk fly through our back yard.
Maybe that was him.
Your girl just won 2 senior scholarships this week honey, for academics and for leadership. The very first senior scholarships awarded by her college, in the new degree plan she’s in. Your baby girl did it.
And your son, he’s feeling better and doing great at school, but you should hear his music. It’s amazing and so beautiful. I’m so proud of the music in his soul, that I just wish I could create a movie film for him to showcase it. He needs a Mac though. Little of his music homework can be done on a PC.
You would be so excited for them.
And your Boo, she’s just so cute every day. She doesn’t hiss at my glasses anymore. Hard to believe it was two years ago last week since we brought the kittens in and gave them a home.
I love you.