It seems to be our month for difficult situations. I went to work this morning, having been asked yesterday afternoon to fill in for someone who was out sick. My first customers were two Montgomery County Maryland police officers, who had come to buy black bunting to cover the patrol car of a young officer who died of his injuries this morning. I had heard the story on the news before I left for work so when these two officers appeared with bands of black tape across their badges and holding a length of faded black cloth, I knew what we were facing. Actually, all of us in the front of the store knew and we were all very shaken as we tried to find black cloth which of course seemed to go into hiding at just that moment. We found a suitable piece and started measuring out what they needed, shaking a bit. Finally, as I was tearing the piece off the bolt, I told them that I had lost a son in Iraq and I knew what they felt like because frankly I thought they might be puzzled by the strength of our reaction. As they went to pay, I turned to my boss and burst into tears. She and I cried together for all those we had lost, and then we pulled ourselves together to move on: as she said, we had done this many times before.
It's a couple of days later, Saturday morning, but Blogger keeps the date I started to write this entry I think.
When I went home Thursday afternoon I drove past the police station where Officer Hoffmann, the young man who died, had been assigned. Our black bunting was draped over the front door of the station and some was tied to his patrol car, which was also covered with flowers. The funeral is today for this young man who apparently dedicated his life to service (he had also been a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Howard County). I ache for his parents.