I am not a rock. Or even Kid Rock or The Rock, either. Obviously.
The past couple of days my friends have been driving me to distraction. Coming up and giving me hugs and handshakes and asking "Are you okay?" And I've heard a thousand times "We were worried about you."
Nobody would leave me alone for more than about fifteen minutes at a whack. Just about the time that I would get lost in my own head good and proper one of my friends would come up and put an arm around my shoulder and the sun would pop out again.
It was maddening, in a way. But it also kept me together. I have some pretty awesome friends when it comes right down to it. If it weren't for them I wouldn't be okay.
The visitation for BG the other night was hard. And the funeral yesterday was even harder. My intentions were, at first, to show my respect for my friend and my support for his family and friends who were there. My thought, somewhat foolishly, was that if someone needed somebody to lean on, I could be there. Instead I was the one needing support. I just hadn't realized it quite yet.
I had been wracking my brains for something to do or say that would be a fitting tribute to my friend. But my mind has been mush and I couldn't come up with anything decent. I got to the point where I figured just being there was going to have to be enough. But I really hate being at a loss for an idea.
When I got to the funeral home yesterday the Honor Guard was there, like they were the day before. Looking somber and professional in their parade uniforms. Just seeing them always makes my throat tighten up a little and my breath catch in my chest. They were more than a fitting vanguard to send one of ours on their way. I could think of no higher tribute.
Sgt Strings, who is in charge of the Honor Guard came up to me and said "I have a job for you."
I was more than happy to do anything that I could. And I listened closely to what he told me. The man is a freaking genius. And I tried hard to keep the task in my mind as we went through the ceremony.
I'm sure BG would have scoffed at most of the ceremony. The slow sad country song and the scriptures read by some preacher who admitted that he didn't know him personally. But he had talked to several people, family and friends alike and had heard alot of things and remembered them. He talked about BG's love of history and antiques and old cars and his truck. And he said that several of his co-workers had described him as an "officer's officer." And that was so true. He was the epitome of a good officer. Always there, always on time, always doing his job the best that he could. That phrase.... an "officer's officer" hit me pretty hard and I lost it a little. I dang near bit a hole right through my lip.
If it hadn't been for the Watcher and Sgt Miz P and whoever that was sitting behind me I would have been gone completely.
When we left to drive to the cemetery several people said "Ride with me." I waved them off. "No, I got this. I'm good." I probably should have ridden with somebody. It was hard to keep my mind on the road and not run into the car in front of me.
I was still a bit shaky when we got there. Watching the Air Force Honor Guard do the flag ceremony made my throat go tight again. Once they had given the flag to BG's brother and we all saluted I remembered what Sgt Strings had told me. I patted the Watcher and Sgt Miz P and said "I have something I have to do."
As Kilts started playing a dirge on the bagpipes, (I think it was 'amazing grace', it's all sort of fuzzy) I stumbled up to the casket, nearly falling on my face, unpinned my badge and placed it on top of the coffin. Then I patted the coffin and whispered "Take it easy now, Big Guy."
How I got back around the little tent they had set up without falling I have no idea. Next thing I knew I was surrounded by uniforms and hands and voices and there was a sort of massive group hug. I was soaking wet with sweat and tears and I don't think all of them were mine. We held it until somebody said something that got a shaky laugh out of all of us and the tension broke a little.
The someone from BG's family (his sister in law? Not sure. I had taken off my glasses because they were hopelessly fogged up and couldn't see very well) came up and asked me to come up front. There, BG's brother Chester (his name isn't Chester, but I had gotten the idea that it was once so the name kind of stuck) came up to me and handed me the flag from BG's coffin. He said that BG would have wanted me to have it.
And I lost it all over again. That this man whom I barely knew would honor me by presenting me with the flag from his brother's coffin..... It was almost too much.
Perhaps it was too much, I'm not really sure. I don't remember sitting down but the next thing I knew I was on a chair clutching the flag and in the middle of another one of those group hugs that very nearly buried me.
The only thing I do remember very clearly is that at one point I was fumbling for my handkerchief and Miz Twang offered me the end of her tie to blow my nose on if I needed it. I laughed so hard at that I could have kissed her. I think I may have, I'm not sure.
And the next thing I knew I was at work wondering "How the hell did I get here?" Wondering if I had driven myself in and supposing I did. I had my lunchbox and my hat and my duty belt so I assumed that I had stopped home.
All through the night people kept calling and stopping by the comm room checking on me and chatting about BG and what a great guy he was. Most of the night is kind of a blur.
One of the great things about doing what we do together is the support system that develops around you. We have each others backs both physically and emotionally.
Both BG and I have a wonderful group of friends.
And I don't think either one of us could have made it this far without them.
So to all of the Big Guy's friends and to all of my friends I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
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