Joe couldn't shake the pictures. That last look back. His own scream. And the darkness that looked back at him from the door, the echoes of his own voice in there, as loud as the fire. But suddenly there was silence surrounding him. And it shook him out of his thoughts, realizing that the priest had stopped talking and before he knew it, Harvey and he were called up, and asked to fold the flag.
All eyes were on them as silence filled the air, with quiet whimpers breaking it. Harvey looked straight into Joe's eyes as he laid the last fold. Joe took its grasp and walked to Cassidy and Lisa. He remembered Kelley had asked that they be given it.
"He's always with us." Joe said as he gave them the flag, softly kissing them both.
He walked over to where the Priest had just been.
"Well everyone, for those of you who knew Nash well, you know he hated good byes. And for me this will be the hardest one I will have to make. I don't think God created words large enough to speak of what this man has meant to me and will always mean to me. But no good byes right bubba? I know I will see you again; we'll go on gigs again, drive in the Cuda again, and share our jokes again. So don't you worry about a thing bubba, I got every thing under control. I love you Nash man, more than you will ever possibly know… Well, I guess I'll see ya later."
He blew a kiss towards the casket and stood back in line with the other officers, they all turned to salute as shots rang in the air. Bag pipes had begun to play as those who wished walked by the casket to pay their last respects.
Joe stood with Lisa near her car as people apologized for their loss. After Joe walked Inger to the car, he asked Harvey to go over Lisa's and stay with her. He needed to do one more thing before he left.
When everyone else cleared out, slowly walking towards to the gate that leads out of the cemetery, Joe didn't move along. He stood there, looking after all the people. So many of them. So many friends.
Feeling a shiver run through him, shaking him from deep inside, he took a shallow breath, and looked down, onto the ground beneath his feet. Then, taking all his strength to move his head, he looked up again. He was alone now. As alone as anyone could be. Ever. The only one left. Aside from...
Slowly, almost hesitatingly, he turned his head, and looked over to the flowers. A sea of flowers. So many, you could almost refuse to see the ground on which they lay. He was still standing there, as if not sure where to go, yet knowing where his feet would walk him. So he took the first step, walking over to the last resting place of his friend. His partner.
And setting one foot in front of the other, yet never consciously remembering any step of this way later on, he walked towards the sea of flowers, and to the casket that was covered below them. He stopped, his hands folded in front of his suit, looking down onto the wooden casket.
He remained standing there, until he could no longer remember how much time he'd spent there, but it had only been minutes. His right hand slowly loosened its grip on the left one and slid into his pocket, retrieving a small sheet of paper, folded in two, but now he took it out and held it tightly in his hand.
He knew what was on the paper. He had brought it with him. But now he felt like he didn't have the strength to do it. He wanted to. He also knew he needed to. But he couldn't. He couldn't do it.
His hand started shaking, slowly at first, then badly, as he felt the tears burning in his eyes again, like they had when he had taken that last look at the door...
And when the tears flowed freely down his cheeks, running down the side of his face, his legs gave in and he couldn't hold himself upright any longer. He fell down into his knees, his hand still holding the paper, knowing what he was here to do, but knowing that he couldn't get the words out.
His throat was clenched tight with feelings, and sadness too big to swallow. So he looked down, at his own hand which still held the paper that was now crumpled at the edge, and stained with tears that smeared some of the handwritten words. And with his vision blurred from the tears in his eyes, he looked down at the words on the paper, although knowing them by heart.
"Nash..." he said, his voice as shaky as his feet, kneeling there in front of the casket,
"...I don't know if you can hear me, I...I think you do...so..." He glanced at the paper in his hands, but then he knew that there was only one way to do this. Only one real way to say what he wanted to say.
So he took one of the flowers, ignored the stinging in his hand as his fingers brushed over the roses thorns, and laid the paper in the middle of the sea of flowers, putting the single rose on the edge of it, so that it wouldn't be brushed away by the slight, almost soothing breeze that was coming up. As if it was trying to blow away his tears with a warm wind of hope, comforting him.
"I know you don't like good byes...but I...I'm gonna miss you, Nash", he felt a lump in his throat the size of the golf ball and suddenly he couldn't hold himself together any more.
When his hand came to rest on the casket, he leaned forward till his forehead touched the casket, kissing it. Then, although he did not know whether his feet would support him, nor if he was even able to get up, if he tried to, he slowly stood up, and laying his hand onto the rose that covered the letter, he said a silent goodbye, with his heart only.
He knew that Nash would understand. With one last look, he let his gaze wave over what he saw in front of him, one last time. He felt the urge to wipe away the tears in his eyes, but willed himself to stand there motionlessly, while the slight breeze played with the edges of the paper lying on the casket, softly tugging at the letter, as if demanding it.
He couldn't shake the feeling that Nash was reading it, letting the wind take the words up to him, up to where he was now. Those words on the paper, spoken right from Joe's heart, softly carried by the wind...
"This is who I am, and this is all I know.
I have to choose to live, And give all that I can give.
Stand for my dream if I can,
Cuz' of my faith in who I am.
I gotta take the road ahead,
Which controls my heart or head.
Not a chosen roll for me to play,
Seems the storm won't end.
Cross my badge I'll find my way,
Even with my destiny ridin' in the wind.
Every ounce of me, has gotta' see it through.
I have a dream, a dream that must come true.
A vision and a fire inside, filled with my love for you.
Feelin's I never could hide, whatever happens You know I do.
Makin' my journey through eternity,
Promising we won't say good-bye.
Gotta' make em' all remember me,
Remembering will give me immortality.
While the paper was softly fluttering in the wind, Joe turned around, walking away from the place, where he was leaving half of his life, while the sun shone over his shoulders, warming them, like a comforting hand on his back.
And all that was left behind was a paper on the casket, held in place by a single rose, cradled by the wind.