Have you ever attended a memorial service for a member of the police department?
Yesterday was the only one of my life. It was deeply moving; Bob's life was eloquently, beautifully honored. I've had difficulty getting on with things today; my heart is still with Bob's widow, Ginny, with his family...and in a way, it's still with Bob. (If you missed my other posting about Bob, it's here.)
His memorial service was held in a large church, because a great number of Seattle Police officers were in attendance, including the Chief of Police. They gave his widow a motorcycle escort to the church. There was a color guard, which set me off crying right away. There were so many blue uniforms in the congregation that I couldn't guess at a number. Strong, dedicated men and women in crisp, immaculate outfits, quietly shedding tears, or stoically holding them back. There was a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace."
Bob served the Seattle Police Department for 30 years in a variety of capacities. His partner on the police force, Russell Weklych, spoke so eloquently that there is no way I could do justice to what he said. Apparently, he and Bob were a legendary team on the force (according to the Chief, and others who spoke). Officer Weklych (I don't know his rank) spoke in the form of a letter to Bob, revisiting how they met and became a team, the growth of their trust in one another, working out and on the range, their experiences patrolling the streets of Seattle, catching criminals, and in close friendship, off-duty. He stopped many times during the eulogy to compose himself. I prayed for him when he paused. It was agonizing, but beautiful.
Someone read a gorgeous poem that Bob had written to his wife when they were dating. Words were shared from friends and family, woven together by a dear friend who is also a pastor. Many of the stories brought great laughter, and many brought back happy memories. Some showed aspects of Bob that we hadn't known; he was a multi-faceted man. There was a slideshow and an open microphone.
His romantic, idealistic spirit; devotion to his family; his love for catching and stopping criminals; his habit of telling long, rambling stories, beginning with the phrase, "I remember the time...;" his huge frame, his athleticism, enthusiasm, sarcasm, intelligence, integrity, affection, colorful vocabulary, gentleness and humor were all touched upon by those who spoke. His enormous faith, his desire to grow in it; his lifelong, studious efforts to that end, and his unwavering dedication to it were described in detail.
For me, the most difficult part of this is that he died so young. I am heartbroken by that fact. It hurts me deeply, personally, for him, for his wife and family, that he is gone. I respect his great integrity and faithfulness to his beliefs. I admire and love him for those qualities; there is not a sweeter man walking this earth. My deepest hope is that his faith gave him all the comfort in the world during his illness. I wish he had received the healing he so faithfully prayed for - and that he were still here, making the world a better place, doing what he loved to do as a husband, police officer and stepfather.
I've read about "complex grief" before, and now I know what it is. This is it. Bob had his path, and I am glad that he was free to walk it, but at the same time, I am sorry that he has passed away.