Hero’s Goodbye

A thousand people were at the gravesite. I sat in one of the folding chairs surrounding the coffin, my little boys by my side. As we listened to the NYPD bagpipe band play a slow rendition of Danny Boy, I thought of Brian and Eddie on lawn chairs in the yard, their cheeks puffed while they practiced the pipes for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the kids dancing around, laughing when Brian clowned, making his eyes bulge, his face purple.

Finally, the Air Force fired a parting shot, a three-volley salute into the hushed crowd, and a formation of fighter jets left a plume of white cloud while one lone bugle player played taps. I watched two police officers pick up the flag over Brian’s coffin and begin to fold, each crease precise. When they put it in my hands, I stared down at the stars until they blurred.

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