Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dear Gerry,

On April 19,  Sean's father was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery. I don't think I can truly put all the emotions into words, but I'll give it my best shot. As we sat at the graveside ceremony, it was hard to feel it all. I was concentrating on not concentrating. I was forcing myself not to look at Sean or Mickey. I was trying to focus on my camera as Mickey had asked me to photograph the event. I was trying not to appear completely obnoxious by fidgeting with camera settings. I wanted to experience it, but I also wanted to document it. 

 I felt very out of place. I had a moment or two of, "Should we be here?" Did we really have a right to celebrate this man? He touched many lives and I felt like perhaps there were others who should've been on the front row of this ceremony.

And then the Navy Chaplain(who happens to be my brother) said his name and our right to be there was confirmed. We are his. We may not have had a lot of time with him, but I think we had a pretty good relationship, given the many complicated factors that go into living this life.

 It was a small crowd that made the trip to Arlington, but it made the gathering that much more intimate. 

 As soon as I started seeing those white headstones, it got real. I couldn't figure out what to photograph and what not to photograph. The formal parts were so quiet that it felt very wrong to lift my camera. A lot of the pictures were taken blindly, from my lap.

 This part always gets me all a-sob during movies and it was exactly as portrayed: sad. 
 So, so sad. 

 The salute was made, the bugle was played and just like that, the ceremony was over.  

 I feel like we left so much unsaid. There are so many memories that we didn't get to make. If I'd known, I would've ignored all protests and made sure to have gotten some pictures of Gerry and Sean. If Gerry were still here, well...

Dear Gerry,

I'm sorry that we didn't get more time. Time for memories and pictures and stories and life

Thank God, we now get to practice what we preach. Your life and death and that one weekend we had together is our chance to put our faith to the test. If we truly believe what we say we believe, then we know this isn't it. Arlington is not your final resting place. Our story isn't over and because of your last minute profession of faith in Jesus Christ, we get more. Thankfully, you recognized your sin and need for a Savior, so it ain't over. Who needs pictures when we get eternity? 

I'd like to say thanks. Thanks for giving me the greatest gift I never would've known to ask for. Thank you for the gift of life to your son. Thanks for the unnaturally strong genes that came through in the form of four handsome boys. Thank you for this life I get to live all because you had a part in creating this man that means the whole world to quite a few people. 

I want you to know that your legacy lives on. We don't quit; we don't stay quiet. I told your story to a lady at the park the other day. With tears in her eyes, she thanked me and said she couldn't wait to share your story. You live on through the love of Mickey. You live on in the lives of your son and grandsons and, truly, all who knew you. 

It's pretty amazing knowing your remains are at Arlington. You are a hero among heroes. Your name will be there and it will not be forgotten. I thank you for your legacy that I get to be a part of every single day. 


Kristine Stark said...

Sob! Beautiful! Love the 1 tiny picture of that beautiful photographer! Love your family! Thanks for sharing!!! Miss you all. Those boys/men sure look pretty handsome!

Corey said...

This is such a sweet tribute. I can see God's grace and mercy in your words and photos. My dad passed away on April 19, 2011 exactly 5 years ago. It's hit me pretty hard this year. He was a Navy guy too :)
You did a great job with the photos and I think they will always mean so much to Mickey.