Monday, January 21, 2013
The leaves shuttered as the wind whipped
through the trees. The quiet in the car mimicked what we were feeling in our hearts. We didn’t want to be here, but the day was upon us. The day we were to wish our Dad a Happy Birthday, the day we get to see his completed headstone, and the day our hearts break all over again with the memories of watching him take his last breath and his heart beat its last pulse.
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery is a beautiful piece of land. Everywhere you look hundreds of rows of white marble fixed neatly in perfect symmetry, there for the rest of eternity, marking where beloved souls are laid to rest remind us of the sacrifice these men and women made for our freedom. Reverence and respect hang heavy in the air.
It didn’t take us long to find Dads grave. With printout in hand we set out for 1JJb-2218. Winding around the grounds to the newly added section made it obvious where he was laid to rest. The ground was still muddy from the lack of sod and what moisture the winter had brought so far.
There were people milling about visiting their loved ones. Blankets of pine boughs decorated various graves for the Christmas holiday. Rebel family members left balloons, real flowers, and even a fishing lure on the headstone of Dad’s neighbor. Our Dad wouldn’t have wanted us to fuss over him, in real life or death. We opted to visit and just remember together why our hearts are still so sad and to wish him a Happy 66th Birthday.
Unbelief still tugs at our brains. Our minds trick us daily, remembering we haven’t called him recently and then reality slaps us awake and the pain washes over us. How could this have happened? How could he leave us? The slow realization that he didn’t leave us by choice soaks in. He fought so hard to stay in this world. He promised he would do everything in his power to stay. He was so brave. He could have given up. He’s our hero for fighting.
The trees continue to shiver with the wind. The weather is crisp and cool but not cold. The winter is mild here in Missouri. Dad would have been happy to know it wasn’t freezing or snowing. He hated the snow. We say our last goodbyes and make our way back to the car with just a few tender tears shed. We ignore the gnawing feeling in our guts that his body is in the ground and so far away from us, never to be hugged again, never to be lovingly looked at by those kind brown eyes, so full of care and concern for us. The thoughts have to be pushed out of our minds because it’s too much to bear, so we head to our next destination; new life in baby Carter. Hope for the future and a life well lived.
Michael John Harms loved life. It wasn’t always great, but he lived it to his fullest and had a wonderful adventure! The hole left in our lives and hearts can never be closed, but the memories and love we have for him can make it less empty as we pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and learn a new way of living this crazy life without him.
Happy Birthday, Daddy.
We love you and miss you with all of our hearts. We thank God that he chose you to be our Dad. One day we’ll be together again and what a glorious day that will be.
Leslie & Angie