Friday, December 30, 2011

Arlington National Cemetary

It was time to go to Arlington. It was time to put my baby to rest. 20 days later, it was... time. I had never been to a funeral in my life. I had never experienced death. Death wasn't real in my mind, death wasn't a possibility when Jalfred was deployed. We were young, invincible. This couldn't have happened...this shouldn't have happened. You're suppose to grow old and then die, and then have a funeral. That's natural, this was not.

It's funny how many similarities weddings and funerals have. I was in the midst of planning my wedding when this happened. I had my beautiful white wedding dress hanging in my room to remind me that the happiest day of my life with the absolute man of my dreams was right around the corner. But now, I had to shop for a black dress. I hung my funeral dress next to my wedding dress and realized how pretty they both were, but how both colors symbolized something completely different. White- purity, life, happiness, love. Black- death, sadness, mourning, loss. .I hated my black dress.

Both funerals and weddings involve crying. One for joy, the other for loss. Friends and family come together at both events. Both involve flowers. Cards are given. One symbolizes the beginning of something, while the other symbolizes the end of a life. People dress their best. And instead of walking down an aisle, I had to walk up to an open casket.

We arrived in Arlington and stayed at a Marriot. It was a very nice hotel. Much better than anything I'm used to. I kept thinking about how Jalfred would have loved to stay there with me...He always wanted to stay someplace fancy. We planned on it when he came home from deployment. I wanted nothing but to be with him in Arlington. I still want nothing more than to be with him.

(My post "Murphy's Funeral Home" explains the first day in Arlington)

It was the day of the funeral, December 30th, 2011. I don't remember parts of that day, I only remember bits and pieces. I remember getting ready. I put on my black dress with black lace sleeves, wondering if Jalfred was there, if he would have liked my dress and thought I looked pretty. I straightened my hair, I put on my makeup, I did the best I could to look nice on this terrible day. I had no intentions to impress anyone.. I just thought of it as my last opportunity to look beautiful for Jalfred. I always dressed up extra whenever I picked him up at the airport, or when I visited him in El Paso.. But even when I wore nothing but ugly pajama pants and his t-shirts when we were together all the time, he made me feel like the most beautiful person on this planet. To him, I was.

This was my first funeral. I really didn't know what to expect. From what I remember we went to the funeral home and had the ceremony. I remember watching everyone else's reaction from seeing Jalfred in the casket for the first time. For the most part, it was Jalfred's paternal side of the family sobbing over him, dramatically. It was weird...I had never seen or heard of these people before and all of the sudden they showed up acting like they care? Now? They never called or even sent cards, yet they'll show up and act like they're blood all of the sudden. Made me sick to my stomach. I didn't get it. I stayed by Jalfred's mother's side the whole time. I remember hugging many people, so many hugs. I remember that people didn't even have the respect to save the first row for Jalfred's mother, sister, and I during the memorial service. I had to tell people to move...People really started bugging me at that point. To top it all off, someone's irritable baby was crying basically the whole day and the whoever the mother was didn't have the respect to walk away or step out...

I remember the ride from the funeral home to the cemetery felt like forever. I remember we were in a limo and there were Patriot Guard Riders ahead of us and that we had police escorts. Many people were following the procession. People on the streets stopped and put their hands over their hearts or saluted the closer we got to Arlington. I kept thinking how Jalfred would have loved to be in that limo with us. He wanted to be a Police Officer so badly...and every time I caught sight of one, it stung. My hunnybear won't be able to reach his dreams. That's one part I hate the most.

(Jalfred's buddies wore green ties- Jalfred's favorite color to honor him)

I remember the ceremony was very respectful and beautiful. I remember Jalfred's mother brought a dozen yellow roses for 12 people to lay on his casket. I wasn't all there. I can't remember it all. I wish I could. I remember the bugle playing. The sound gives me chills to this day. I hate that tune. I reminds me of one of the worst days of my existence. I remember the soldiers being so carefully and respectful with Jalfred's casket. I remember sitting in the front row between Jalfred's brother and sister. My mind wouldn't allow me to believe all of it was happening. 

The Army Pastor from Arlington came and spoke at the site. I honestly can't remember what he talked about. The only thing that stuck with me was when he said "We don't have souls. We are souls.. We have bodies." I really liked that. It's what I believe, but I had never heard it verbalized in such a way. I remember the 21 gun salute. It made me cry harder. The only thing I thought about was how the last sound Jalfred heard was a gun firing....Honestly, I don't feel much like writing about the rest of the funeral. It just is too painful to type. I can't bring it up now. I can't make the experience into an interesting read, I can't even find the right words to express how I felt that day. I don't know if I ever will. It was just a dream...

(Pictures are from Jalfred's actual funeral)
-Maybe I'll write more about the funeral later. =/

1 comment:

  1. I love you soo much... like a sister. hang in there.


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