The Final Goodbye (A #MemorialDay Story)

Hey guys! In honor of Memorial Day, I decided to write a little story. As many of you know, I have very strong feelings about our armed services and those who serve. With the story, I included songs that I felt conveyed the sentiments of each moment. I hope you guys appreciate this small tribute to those we’ve lost who have guarded our freedom with vigilance.

He stood alone. As he gazed out at the white crosses that covered the beautifully manicured lawn he felt the weight of his 48 years drag his shoulders down in a way he never had before. It had been a long time since he’d been back to this place, and he’d hoped to never return.

“A parent should never outlive his child.” Grief scratching at his throat.

He blinked back tears that stubbornly refused to fall. Part of him clung to the image he had in his mind’s eye. Full of laughter and vitality, that precious dark head bent over to kiss his young wife’s distended belly, before he turned around to say goodbye. David promised to come home soon.

He shook his head as the pain threatened to suffocate him. Not like this. This had to be a bad dream. He just needed to wake up and everything would be okay again.

Unfortunately, the folded triangle of fabric pressed tightly to his chest told him everything was all too real. His bowed his head, fingers digging into the precious flag. Alone with his grief he dropped to his knees and cried out to the only person who could hear him.

“God, if you’re listening…this is too much. Almost more pain than I can bear! My boy was a good son, a great husband. He was going to be a great father. He loved you. Loved this country. He wanted so badly to follow in his grandpa’s footsteps. Did you really have to take him?”

The hand on his shoulder felt familiar. It had been decades since he’d experienced that touch. He looked up to find his father standing beside him. He wore the same dress blues he’d been buried in 40 years ago and he hadn’t aged a day.

“Dad…” he choked out, blinking, sure this was some sort of hallucination.

There was a wealth of understanding and regret in his father’s eyes.

“Hello, son.”

“I’m finally losing it, right? Hallucinating? A psychotic break caused by grief and stress?”

“No, son. You’re not. God heard you…. So did I. We’ve never been far away. When you called out, I asked him to let me go to you.”

Although none of this seemed real, he decided to go with it. Maybe he was dreaming. What harm could it do?

“It’s all so damned unfair, Dad!” he railed. “First you, then my son? Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of him. Proud of you… But did the price have to be so high?”

His father wrapped strong arms around him, something he’d missed most of his life. He soaked in the comfort, gaining some strength before he let go. With a bolstering breath, he straightened his spine, threw his shoulders back and raised his head.

“I’m proud of you, you know.” His father looked at him with the same piercing blue eyes as his son. “I’ve watched you grow into a strong, honorable man. I know it wasn’t easy for you to let David join the service. After the way you lost me, it would have been all too easy to encourage him to go a different direction.”

“It wouldn’t have been right. Being a soldier was all he ever wanted.” He shrugged, his smile, bittersweet. “To be a hero, just like his Grandpa.”

“It may have served you better not to paint me with such a heroic brush,” his father laughed. “I appreciate that, by the way. The way you kept me alive in your heart. The way you shared me with your family. It meant everything to me.”

The man shook his head. “I didn’t do anything all that special.”

“Yes, you did,” his father smiled. “It may seem like nothing to you, but it’s what gave your son the courage to chase his dream. He knew the danger, but he also saw your gift. When his number was called, he didn’t worry. His son and wife are in good hands with you. He knows you’ll keep his memory alive, just like you did for me.”

“You’ve seen my David?”

Tears finally flowed, unchecked.

His father nodded. “Of course. You didn’t think I’d let your son get to heaven without a welcome party, did you?”

“He’s okay? My boy. You’ll look out for him, Dad?”

“Of course,” his father nodded his head. “He’ll be loved. Surrounded by family, both military and kin.”

With one more shuddering breath, he clasped his father’s hand and squeezed.

“Tell him, Dad.” He bit his lip as his voice broke. “Tell him I’ll watch over his family down here. I know he’ll be watching out for them with you. And please, tell him I’m so proud of him.”

“I will.” His father smiled one last time before fading away.

As he stood gazing out at all the soldiers that came before, he could have sworn he heard David whisper on the gentle breeze.

“I love you, Dad.”

Squeezing the flag to his chest, he nodded.

“I love you, too, son. I’m proud of you.”

Advertisements

32 thoughts on “The Final Goodbye (A #MemorialDay Story)

  1. August McLaughlin says:

    Heart wrenching, Kitt. Thanks so much for writing and sharing this! It would make a great song and/or movie, IMO. And our feelings about war and the military are unsurprisingly similar.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thank you. We do seem to have a lot in common, don’t we? I’m glad you liked it. Days like today just cry out for a different sort of celebration. It’s often difficult to understand that there can be joy in sorrow. Today is about those we lost…and this just tugged at my soul and begged to be written.

  2. filbio says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for posting such a beautiful and heartfelt story on this somber day for many. We should all remember what the true meaning of Memorial Day is.

  3. ramblingsfromamum says:

    We do not have Memorial Day – though many have died in battle (we have Anzac Day) perhaps there will be a day of Remembrance for our soldiers who have fallen in Afghanistan. You wrote this from the heart and I understood the significance. xx

  4. Don't Quote Lily says:

    I had to step away from my laptop and grab a tissue after reading this. I can’t believe I missed this post on Monday, but I’m so glad I read it now. This was so beautiful and so touching. I know this is something very near and dear to your heart, it definitely shows! Truly truly beautiful…thanks for making me cry! Lol. But really, so bittersweet and beautiful, I’m glad you shared this.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read. ::hugs:: Sorry that I made you cry. I know it probably hit a little harder with your brother in basic right now. He’s in my thoughts and prayers. Let me know where he gets stationed in TX. I may have contacts there that can look out for him. 😉

      • Don't Quote Lily says:

        It’s okay, it’s good to cry sometimes! Thanks for keeping him in your thoughts, same with you and yours! I think he’ll be in San Antonio but I’m not 100% sure yet. When I find out more, I’ll probably write another post about. I’m sure he has no idea I’d be writing about him on my blog, lol.

        • Kitt Crescendo says:

          You’re right, of course. Tears can be quite cathartic. Right now I’m cursing myself for not keeping in touch with the Sergeant I knew that was stationed in San Antonio. In my defense… He was unhappily married and in the process of getting divorced (and looking to hook it up…not my cup o tea or my type).

  5. amadiex says:

    Memorial Day is hard for my family, since Aaron’s dad would always celebrate it. We would hear stories of him being in the army, and since he has passed away it has become a harder day. Most people are out enjoying the BBQ’s and that is fine, but for my family it is a time to say that thank you for what has been sacrificed.

Don't Be Shy, Reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s