Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Funeral

I am completely drained. So many things happened today. I feel overwhelmed.

We arrived at 10 am for an 11 am funeral and couldn't get anywhere near the church. "T" had tried to tell me to come earlier....oh well. We were directed up Talbot Ave and told to walk in down Welles Ave. We walked down past all the empty busses and turned to the corner on Dorchester Avenue. I knew it was blocked off but we had assumed it was to facilitate queing cars for the procession. We were wrong.

Dot Ave in both directions was a sea of police uniforms. All day I have described it as overwhelming. But this evening in discussing it with Sgt. B, I realized that didn't come close. I realized the word I wanted to use to describe it was beautiful. The men and women from all those law enforcement agencies, lined up in the heat, in formation after formation were together something far greater than any one person could ever be alone. They came together, some in grief, some out of respect to form something incredibly, indescribably beautiful. I have seen such displays before on TV. Trooper Charbonnier's funeral....Firefighter Stevie Minehan's funeral, but to stand there and face it in person. I imagine that it must be the same when someone first sees the ocean......vast and powerful and awesome..........and beautiful.

Walking past them to the church caused a rush of emotion. My heart beat faster and my hands shook. I was afraid I might cry. Once at St. Mark's we went and found some shade and waited to go inside.

The service was long, but I take comfort in the rituals of my Church. The hymns, the prayers, the admonitions not to waver in the face of adversity. The first reading struck me because it put my feelings into words.

The Book of Wisdom
Chapter 3

But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be
punished, yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

I thought about that a lot as we sat and stood and moved through the Mass.... "utter destruction". Yes, that about covered it. I was good until Communion. When I turned from the priest to return to my pew, I was struck by the scene. Maryellen and her children were in the front pew, flanked by her brother Jim on one end and a Trooper on the other. Her head was bent as she knelt and she was covering her face. People passing as they returned to their pews were touching her and the children. I averted my glance....it hurt.

After Communion, Paul's brother spoke movingly and then he played a recording Maryellen had made about their life together. How happy they were....how they would be happy in the future. How Paul and she had had a conversation just two weeks ago discussing that they could not ask for more. Once again we were struck by just how special Maryellen is.

Outside we were once again swept up in the ritual of the "thin blue line" honoring one of their own. The dignity, the solemn attention to detail. The bagpipes, the flyover, the radio call, the row upon row of officers at attention.

Florian Hall was a huge relief. A drink, a bathroom, shared remembrances..........watching the children laugh and play.

After seven hours spent in Dorchester we headed home to shower and collapse.

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