“Today is the hardest day.”
“Each day going forward from today will get easier. Tell me something you have to look forward to when we get off the phone tonight.”
“My bubble bath.”
“Tell me something you have to look forward to tomorrow.”
“Going home to New York.”
“Tell me something you have to look forward to further out.”
“A trip to Germany in the Spring.”
“Good. Remember, deep breaths and baby steps. We’ll get through this.”
That was the exchange that took place between D and I tonight over the phone as giant crocodile tears poured out of my eyes and down my cheeks, splashing into the bathwater below. Today was the day we said goodbye to Ron. After weeks of newspaper articles, cable news features and memory sharing, Ron was finally buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
It was cold today, but not freezing. The wind was blowing and the sun was shining brightly. My two best friends were by my side as the band, the colors and finally the caisson marched through the hallowed grounds to Ron’s final resting place in Section 60. The burial ceremony was poignant and dignified. The gun salute, flag folding and prayer service were sealed with the final playing of Taps. With every tear and every shudder, I felt the squeeze of my hand. My best friends were my strength when I had none.
The ceremony ended and we dispersed with the crowd of people that had also come to bid farewell to a fallen solider. We went out for champagne afterwards, to toast to Ron’s life, and the unexpected impact he had on all of our lives. Tears fell then, and they still fall now. Diana keeps reminding me to look forward to the days ahead. And one thing I’m really looking forward to is the day I can go visit Arlington alone. The day I can sit down, talk to Ron and begin to heal.
In the meantime, I’ll remember that today was the hardest day. Tomorrow will be better. I will take babysteps and I will breathe. And with the help of my best friends, I will get through this.