31st October 2008

The Burial

Today, Zora was going with us and Zane was being dropped off at the church. If you are in San Antonio, the Community Bible Church has a great Special Needs ministry, and they are the ones who watched Zane during the burial. The next day, when we pulled into the parking lot for the Memorial, Zane happily asked from the back seat if he was going “back to the school?”. A sure sign of approval.  I am not a conservative, by any stretch of the imagination, but the church seemed like a great church if that is your style of worship.  We were there a few years ago, and the growth is astonishing.  I heard someplace that they are now the 17th largest church in the nation.

At the hotel, ready to go

Anyway, we dropped Zane off at the church and took Zora with us to the burial.  Kirsten’s (Zach’s step-sister) in-laws volunteered to watch over Zora and Rocco during the service.  The other kids were all either attending, or still in school. 

I have never been to a military burial, so it was a new experience.  I have also never been a person in the “sitting” area before.  I hope it is a long, long time before I “get” to have that experience again. 

They started with three gunshots, one for service, one for honor, and one for something else….I can’t remember what right now.  One thing, without a doubt, even though you are expecting it, it is very startling.  It very effectively jumpstarts the tears.  Then they followed with a beautiful playing of Taps. 

When they folded the flag, I couldn’t help but think of all of the wives/mothers/fathers/husbands that have watched the same thing for their loved one.  Including my natural grandfather.  And when they knelt down in front of Jennifer, and told her the flag was from the president in appreciation of her sacrifice, I was choking back tears, not only for Jim, but knowing my grandmother stood there as a new widow with a preschooler and infant, and was told the same words.  The feeling of it all being greater than this one death was overwhelming.  I will never be able to watch a military burial on TV the same way.  The solomn and magestic ritual of it all was so powerful.

The service was ended with a short message, then a hymn (I can’t recall which one it was off the top of my head, but it was familiar enough for me to get most of the verses without benefit of the lyrics, which I somehow missed when they were handing them out).  The service was concluded with a beautiful doxology, lead by Jennifer’s extended family.  (a very musical family, blessed with beautiful voices)

After the service one of Zach’s cousins told him that they often let family members keep the shells spent during the gun salute, so Zach went over and gathered some for himself and his siblings and gave it to them.

It was hard, but as Zach said, it was harder the night before.  I initially asked him if was harder because he had to talk to people, and he said that it was harder because it was the last time he would ever see his father’s face, and his father’s hands.  It was harder because that is when he said good-bye to him.  I agree.  It was sad, and final, but the night before was harder for me too.  Looking around that day, I think the same was true for a lot of people.

The feeling standing there, after the service, was so odd.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the kids were playing and laughing amongst the gravestones and along the road near the pavilion.  Such a contrast to see them with the coffin off in the background and the adults gathered into little groups, all in dark clothes.  For Zora, it was the first time she was around kids in days, and met some of her cousins.  (she met the other cousins at the estate later, when they got out of school).

There were a few people with cameras there.  Me taking a picture of Lauren taking a picture of Mead taking a picture of Wright (I think)  I know there was at least one other photographer and now I am wondering if she was standing behind me.

And a group picture.  This is Jim’s sisters and their husbands, and all of the cousins (in Zach’s generation) except Jim’s girls. (Kirsten & Amanda)   In the front, from the left:  Cady, Mead, Sandy, and Joyce.  In the back:  Wright, Bob, Zach, Dan, Lauren, and Hayden

We were able to be there precicely an hour, and then they started kicking us out.  We went to pick up Zane, who was not totally convinced he should have to leave, and went out to Jennifer’s brother’s estate for the family meal and social time.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 12:14 AM and is filed under Autistic Life, Death, Extended Family, Papo (Z's Dad) & Grammie. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 2 responses to “The Burial”

  1. 1 On October 31st, 2008, mommyoftomandelandjo said:

    This made me cry. My Papa had a military burial. Also, my husband’s Grandpa. I think his grandpa’s funeral was actually the saddest because he was buried in a veteran’s cemetery. You can never prepare yourself for the playing of Taps at a funeral. It just makes me sob. I hope that your husband will find some peace and comfort in the memories that he has of his father.

  2. 2 On October 31st, 2008, Mia said:

    I’ll be singing the Rutter Requiem this Saturday, and will have your family in my heart as I do. Thank you for sharing this story. Be well.

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