It is Christmas Eve. If I hear "I'll Be Home for Christmas" one more time, I shall probably throw something. On the other hand, I've gone from wanting to break into sobs when I hear it to just plain numbness--endless repetition apparently can blunt any emotion after a while. It has felt like I've heard it a lot every December since Thomas was killed (yes, let's rub some salt into that open wound why don't we?) and this year has been even worse, I assume because people are noting the U.S.'s departure from Iraq and the return home of many soldiers. Which is the other difficult thing: well-meaning news organizations keep showing us pictures and video of soldiers surprising their loved ones at school or work or at some random event, coming home a little earlier than expected maybe, unannounced. We won't be getting that fairy tale ending here, and yeah, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the unfairness of it all. But I am glad that these other people are home safely or at least with the prospect of healing and it is definitely my intention to support them in the years to come. I just need to take a deep breath every once in a while.
Yesterday, Richard and I went out to the cemetery to put flowers on the grave. It was a beautiful sunny day, somewhere in the 50s. The first thing we realized was that a fire fighter's funeral was taking place a couple of hundred yards from Thomas's grave site--a color guard in uniform was waiting on one side, and a firetruck was parked nearby. I haven't heard anything on the news recently so I assume that this was a death in the natural course of events, but this was well-attended anyway. When we got to Thomas's grave, we saw that someone had been there recently and left artificial flowers, nice ones, on both his grave and my brother-in-law Eugene's. The nice thing for us was that this meant the vases had been left upright over night and the heavy rain had filled them with water. We had been a little concerned about the faucets having been turned off for the winter (except the deer probably ate all of our flowers within a few hours anyway). As we were arranging the flowers in the vases, we suddenly heard "Taps." We stopped and turned to pay our respects. I asked Richard if this was good timing or bad timing for us: he thought, on the whole, good. The last time we heard "Taps" in that cemetery was the day we buried Thomas.
No pictures this time: I forgot my cell phone and Richard's was almost out of charge. This will still be a good memory.