Like The Queen
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Monday, December 29, 2003  

Dear friends

Thank you so much for your sympathy at this really horrible time. You would not believe how precious the tag messages are to me. Never wonder if those seemingly small touches are insignificant or trite. They aren't. They are incredibly soothing. I didn't mean to be so melodramatic and then just disappear, but warm bodies in this house have taken precedence over keyboard activities.

Greg was LD's best friend during the years he served on the USS Albany. Shipmates tend to be pretty close anyway, but on a submarine there is an intimacy that borders on the familial. We don't live all that far from Norfolk, but we do live on a farm - not too different from Greg's home. We were welcome refuge for a homesick country boy. When, due to the duty watch, he couldn't get back to Missouri for holidays, he'd spend them with us. He was a quiet man, with just the slightest hint of laughter beneath the surface; a man of utter integrity, deep character, and a remarkable scientific mind. He earned his sterling reputation by his actions, at times overcoming snap judgments made by people who were too noisy to hear and too busy to see what he had to offer.

On Tuesday the 23rd he was involved in a traffic accident and on Christmas Eve his parents, who had driven round the clock on a nightmare journey across the country, bid him farewell. His beautiful mother told me that, though the body was still there, her son was gone. Tears are still seeping from beneath eyelids around here.

Greg was with us last Thanksgiving and had just arrived at LD's house when I walked over that morning. The image of those two happy friends, relaxed but anticipatory, laughing - ready to walk back with me, petting dogs, comparing stories, just living on this earth - is both precious and painful. Both these fellows were hearty eaters - a favorite type for the family cook because they validate all that kitchen labor. They were anxious that I would prepare enough mashed potatoes for the feast so I made sure I did. 10 lbs of potatoes make a mighty tall heap in the biggest serving bowl I own . I triumphantly set it down in front of them and my heart still warms at the memory of their glowing eyes and LD's whispered comment that “at this house you’re expected to really eat.” And so I'm sitting here weeping even now.

Well. Rats. This is why I'm taking so darn long to explain myself. It just hurts like fury. I feel like those cartoon characters that get cannon balls blown through their bodies - like a huge smoking hole goes right through me. And I know both the D's feel the same.

We went to the memorial service on the pier by the submarine on Friday - a moving ceremony for us all, though the most so for LD. Since then we have mostly just sighed and walked, and wept and talked. Lots of talking. Lots of remembering. Lots of touching on the beauty that was this stalwart, honorable, fascinating young man. He is an enormous loss to us - an even greater loss to his family - but he is a loss to all, for he would have been our tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 6:43 AM