It is the day after Christmas. Our house is decorated with enthusiasm if not style, the living room cluttered with wrapping paper. We came home from Christmas with the in-laws to find a large package on our porch, and after quick work with a pocketknife on the many layers of tape, we opened more gifts.
Its quiet. Just the hiss and swish of iron on fabric.
Getting the pleats just right takes skill. First, I take off the badge, take off the nametag, take off the tack pin that came from that first aviation assist, a shiny unexpected gift from the BDU pocket of a pilot that afforded that instant of sheer childlike delight; a tiny enameled helicopter. I take off the Hazmat certification and follow the creases that came in the shirt, iron around the patches. Promise myself I will sew them down better, another time. The pins go back on; the tiny silver angel from my mother goes back on my shoulder. The badge wrapped in black ribbon. I eye it all critically, making sure all is straight and even.
It is the day after Christmas.
The pants are easy; lint roller and a razor sharp pleat front and back. I hang it all together on the outside of the closet door, ready for the morning.
In the morning we will present ourselves in our best, out of respect. We will present ourselves to confront the unimaginable, to say to a family, he was one of us and we loved him too. To say, we cannot know your pain, but in this place where there are no words, and only tears between heartbeats, we will stand with you. We will always stand with you.
Chief Timothy R. Martin
Goodyear Hose Company
October 4, 1976- December 21, 2008
Quiescat in Pace