Part 2: War Cries
Songs of Grief
17. IN MEMORIAM
I went to a military funeral once. In Remembrance of a naval military man, who was also a civilian pilot. We were just a nod and smile to each other, acquaintances. But I went to his funeral, as pilots do : in silent respect and recognition of the price he paid for all of us, the one who paid the rare but absolute penalty for the risks we take, in loving flight : in returning to the air time and time again throughout our lives.
A military funeral. With uniforms, and pomp and ceremony. A heartfelt occasion, of genuine loss : of contemplating, for a moment, the hole in the ranks left by this departed comrade. An occasion of honouring, and of reminiscences : below-deck stories, of engines and escapades and responsibilities met, and good times and cameraderie. And some loud hymns were sung, about wild seas and victory.
And my heart went out to his silent wife and family, on this the solitary occasion to mark his departure : who were mentioned once, in passing ; at the bottom of this honour-roll of shipmates and professional deeds. The military mates whose ranks will close after a suitable period of respect, as though he had never been there.
And the wife and children, in whose lives he leaves a gaping hole that will never close, and who will cry for him for weeks, for years even : the people who loved him, whose lives he filled.
At the bottom of the honour-roll.