Dad was watching "Exodus" when Kelsey and I got home from Savannah tonight. It's about how Israel came about, and how the Jews and British were fighting around 1948. It's an interesting look at how terrorism got started, actually, but what I was more interested in was the ending. The ending centered around an informal funeral service for 2 people who were killed in the fight, the main character and a supporting character. The man giving the "sermon" said in his message that he hopes that those in the earth can share a peace that hopefully those who live on the earth can have one day. His speech was filled with sadness that fighting could cause so much pain in certain people's quest for peace that is must spare lives, including innocent ones.
I had this same speech in my head today as I decorated the memorial tree for Nathan. Kelsey went with me, and I am so glad and grateful that she did. We talked about him a lot as we drove to Ft. Stewart, reminiscing the past and all of our shared memories of him. I drove my mom's van over there and registered at the checkpoint on the base. The man issuing the registration told us where to go for the memorial trees. He asked, "Is there a lighting tonight?" And I said, "No, my friend has a tree there." He paused for a moment and said, "I'm sorry," but showed emotion for only a second. I'm sure it's difficult for him to think about it. He has to live with it every day, I'm sure, but for that moment, I appreciated his sympathy.
We made our way to the field where they had the trees and it brought me back to when he came back from his first tour of duty. I remembered going there to see him, with my cookies in tow that Mom bought to replace the ones that she ruined while he was deployed (long story). I was nervous. I was young. I was crazy about him. I was there, at this place, where Kelsey and I walked side by side, her arm over my shoulders and mine around her waist. My heart was pounding a little bit because I wasn't sure whether to turn around and pretend it never happened or to keep going. It was getting darker, so we knew we should find the tree quickly, but it wasn't numbered as I had imagined. I was glad for that, actually. Kelsey took one row and I took the other, and we read the names to find his tree. In a few minutes, I heard, "It's over here." I went slowly, studied the faded flowers from baskets placed there what seemed like months ago, and tried to look for signs that someone else had remembered him this holiday. It didn't appear so, and that made me glad that I was there.
I stood there in disbelief. It seemed so cold, so unlike him. I cried at the thought of him being represented by this tree, at the thought of him not being remembered as I thought he should have, but mainly at the thought that I should not have been there in the first place. Sweet Kelsey came over and hugged me. We had a moment, and then began to dress the branches in the long strand of lei's I put together, the tiny, glittery Christmas ornaments, and beachy air fresheners I bought to resemble larger, beachy-Christmas ornaments. We were proud of our work. I was proud of my friend. I was grateful to have the opportunity to remember him, even though I would rather have him alive.
Cherish the ones you truly love with every moment you get.
I hope your Christmas is bright and filled with warmth and love and peace.