Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Montgomery County Police Department had provided a motorcycle escort for the funeral procession. As we moved out of the church's driveway, they preceded us up New Hampshire, stopping traffic at intersections, letting us pass through in procession. The hearse moved slowly: it seemed to take forever to make progress up the street. Thomas went to Springbrook High School where he had earned an International Baccalaureate Diploma--Springbrook is not on New Hampshire, but the side street it is on ends at the driveway to St. John's parking lot, so we passed the route Thomas took to get to school most mornings. The principal and a number of his teachers were at the funeral, a simple walk for them. Then we kept moving north, past the place we often had bought Christmas trees and Halloween pumpkins, past the dry cleaner's where my suit had been altered, left on Randolph Road, past the grocery store we tend to regard as a second refrigerator and source of many late night snacks for my boy, and on down the street, eventually to Georgia Avenue, north again another couple of miles and into Gate of Heaven cemetery to the plot we had chosen for him.

The Army's Honor Guard was already there. We found our way to the grave site and the canopy, following the casket, and then sitting down in those chairs in the front row, where I became one of those mothers who has had to bury her son and be presented with the flag, folded into its precise triangle by serious young men in uniform. There was Taps, and a rifle volley as salute, then prayers and final goodbyes. I touched the casket in farewell as we stood to leave, but I could not cry openly for some reason. And then we walked back to the car, surrounded by our friends and our families. I remember one little girl, nine months old at the time, wearing a beautiful black dress, and so quiet but alert as her mother carried her away from Thomas's grave.


At December 18, 2006 at 9:38:00 AM PST , Anonymous Laurie said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lee Ann. Somehow, it is a comfort in comparing experiences. Taps makes me cry, the volley made me flinch. It felt awkward at the end. People stayed around for a while. I didn't feel like leaving right away and ended up doing my usual, thanking and hugging them for coming.
Laurie, Chase's mom


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