Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 1 comment

A Heroic Grief

I never used to understand why my mom would cry over something she saw on the news. I had an empathetic heart when it came to my friends, but I just didn’t connect to strangers’ tragedies in the same way she did - especially not when they flashed across the screen between budget cut stories and Jello commercials.

But apparently I’ve turned out just like her. (And I’m glad.)

Last night during the news, I couldn’t stop the sobs from coming as I watched a clip from the funeral of our police chief who was killed Wednesday while trying to wrestle a gun from a man who had held up a gas station. They played the moment of his shooting over and over, in true Turkish sensationalist fashion, and interspersed it with scenes of the family, his fellow policemen and government officials mourning at the ceremony.

What broke my heart was the image of the man’s eight-year-old son lifting his tear-streaked face from his mother’s shoulder and standing up straight to sing the national anthem. He started off strong and stoic, but a few lines in, he began to weep. Singing along with him, I dissolved into tears when he did and couldn’t carry on past the first verse. Still, he pushed on, through his “heroic race” and “the blood we shed for it”, bravely mouthing the words in between sobs as drops of grief coursed down his chubby little cheeks until, with the final proclamation of the “freedom of his God-worshiping nation” he crumpled into a puddle of fatherless sorrow.

(Click here to see the video.)

The scene reminded me of little girls who welcome their fathers home from Iraq and Afghanistan in caskets, standing courageously beside their mothers as they receive the star-spangled gift they never wanted, a three-volley salute echoing with cold finality in their hearts.

Whether a father is laid to rest under stars and stripes or crescent and star, grief looks the same on the face of any child.

A day later, I can’t get those tear-stained cheeks out of my mind. I think what affected me so deeply was the way he was unabashedly weeping for all the world to see. For a boy, I think that took more courage than it took to make it to the end of the song. If he can grow into a man without losing that mixture of tenderness and resolute strength, this country will know a hero of a different kind. And considering the life and death of his father, I’d say there’s a good chance it’s in his blood.


I, too, am glad you share the same "tender heart syndrome" as your mom.....thank-you for expressing so beautifully how one person's sorrow (especially a child's) affects so many others.