By Annette Rey
I have not been writing for a number of weeks because I have been grieving the loss of my brother. Clichés come to mind like: the event has taken the wind from my sails, down and out, and better to have loved and lost… We are warned as writers to avoid clichés, but sometimes they fill the bill; they have given me the opening I needed to begin writing again.
Writing, for me, is a personal therapy. Writing is an escape from my feelings and does not require I spend money on advice, or gasoline, or waste time driving to and from such errands. Any therapist will tell you two methods for coping with life’s sorrows are: find an activity to redirect your energy and then channel that energy into an activity that is meaningful to you.
For weeks I felt a disturbance in the force and was enervated. I told myself my brother would want me to heal, to find strength, and to write. But I also know, all things take time so I was patient with myself and did not force words to the page.
He spent a career in the military and was buried, most poignantly, on Memorial weekend at a national cemetery. As we gathered at the last opportunity to be in his presence, full honors were afforded him. The Veteran’s Honor Guard, in marching step, bore their brother-in-arms in his casket. A bugle rendition of Taps sadly stroked our hearts. We watched as uniformed young men solemnly folded the flag that had draped my brother’s casket. We listened to the tight snapping of the cloth as the flag of the country he served was shaped. We heard the low-toned commands and the tapping of the metal cleats at their heels as they smartly moved in unison. A three-volley rifle salute shattered the grief-filled silence, and the tri-folded flag was presented to his son. I watched the lead man as he lowered himself, back stiff in military posture, to my nephew’s seated height. I was impressed at the unwavering eye contact he gave my nephew as his even voice gave dignity to my brother’s death, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of (the Service Member’s rank and name).”
Broken sobbing and tears could not be restrained.
Our traditions shred our hearts, but our fallen deserve commendation and recognition.
I still cry. I still get distracted. But I am on the mend.
If I can write, I write in memory of him.
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Thank you so much for your sensitive remarks. Those feelings are a balm to the survivors. I pray you are helped through your times of loss.