I just read the news about Lucy. I'm deeply saddened by her loss. It's always hard to lose someone, even if you didn't know them well. I knew her through her stories, and they are good stories. She will be deeply missed.
This is in honor of Lucy and all the other members of our 'family' that we may lose over the years. I'm writing this while still in shock at the news, but I seem to express myself best when I write.
As always, I'm grateful to the owners for allowing us to make use of their property without suing us over it. The song that I use is one that the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem do better than anyone else I've ever heard, and I always think of this when someone goes out of my life, for one reason or another.
One Of Our Own
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It's always hardest when it's one of your own. The day was cold and drizzly, the clouds weeping as the attendees couldn't... or wouldn't. The bagpipes played 'Amazing Grace' which brought unshed tears to almost everyone's eyes. The family stood, the parents and siblings broken down in tears, but the rest, the brothers and sisters in blue... their stoicism could be legendary in these situations. It wasn't that they didn't feel, just that they refused to show their feelings. They would show their grief in other ways. A boisterous Irish Wake, where the keys were checked at the door, along with their service weapons... just in case.
Standing stiffly in their uniforms, the police officers stood at attention throughout the service. Through the eulogy, through the various speeches by the Mayor and the Chief of Police. Through the playing of Taps and the twenty-one-gun salute. Afterwards, the quiet passing of the attendees by the family and the offering of condolences did little to the mood, except to darken it.
The wake began, as most of them do, with solemn commiseration over their loss, but then, almost magically, someone remembered when...
"There he was, at his first DB call, spewing his guts over the body and the crime scene. I thought for sure old Henderson was gonna kill him!" The tale was followed by loud guffaws of laughter, some of the laughs a bit forced.
"Oh! Oh, how about the time... you remember? The Fourth of July? He and his partner, Cummins? Cummins was sitting in the car, watching the traffic, OK, he was falling asleep, while Charlie was making a phone call to his girlfriend? When he finally got off the phone, he snuck up and tossed that whole string of firecrackers under the car? He was lucky Cummins couldn't get his gun unholstered..."
The stories became wilder as the night progressed as they discussed and celebrated the life of their friend and colleague. The retelling of the life of their friend helped to ease the grief they all felt, even those who didn't know him well. As the night wore on, the stories told became less the tales of embarrassment or humor and more the maudlin stories, trailing down into how much their friend would be missed; eventually even allowing a few tears to fall in the memory and grief of their loss.
Finally, as the group quieted and the shock wore through grief and towards acceptance, one officer who had worked with him only briefly and wasn't even a real member of the department, being only an exchange officer working as a detective stood up to have her say.
Megan Conner was well and truly sloshed. Three sheets to the wind. But the slain officer had been one of the first people to make her feel welcome, considering how badly her first day had been. He'd given her some valuable advice. "Don't take them too seriously," he'd laughed when he heard about her first case, "They'll get over it." And he'd been right. She felt at home here, now. She was really going to miss him.
Standing unsteadily, she raised her glass of beer, "To Lucky, We'll miss you, mate." She downed her drink, as did many others, then, in a slightly shaky alto, she began to sing,
"Oh, all the money that e're I spent
I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e're I've done
Alas, it was to none, but me.
And all I've done
For want of wit
To memory, now, I can't recall.
So, fill to me the parting glass,
Goodnight and joy be with you all."
The song was met with silence as the melancholy melody reached out to touch hurting hearts.
Oh, all the comrades that e're I had
Are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts I've ever had
Would wish me one more day, to stay.
But since it falls
Unto my lot
That I should rise
And you should not
I'll gently rise, and I'll softly call,
Goodnight, and joy be with you all.
As the sad song trailed off into silence, there were muffled sounds of sniffles and the surreptitious wiping of tears from cheeks and eyes. Staggering, Megan made her unsteady way to the rest of her friends, meeting their eyes and seeing the grief that had been so forcibly controlled, leaking from their hearts, sending the cleansing tears down their faces as the final, full meaning of their loss came home to them.
Once the tears dried of their own accord, then, finally, would be some hope of healing, perhaps never of understanding why, but at least the hope to go on.
Goodbye, Lucy. You will be sorely missed.
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