After giving my speech I returned to my seat and sat down. As I turned around I noticed every single person in that auditorium stood up and clapped. In that moment, I knew I did it. You were there and it was perfect. As I sat in my chair, tears in my eyes watching all of these people my heart swelled with that pride again. I am so incredibly proud of you. At the same time, I'm left completely heartbroken and it was another day without you.
A state senator was set to speak after me. He walked over to my chair on stage, grabbed my hand, and told me how much of a brave and amazing young woman I was and he didn't know how he was going to follow that. In that moment, I finally felt like people truly understand. That I accomplished what I set out to do- I made people understand. They got to know you, know us, and know what you gave up for this country.
As the assembly continued on it came time for the folding of the flag. In that moment, the feelings I felt during the last moments of your funeral came flooding back. I started getting tears in my eyes. Here I was again receiving another folded up flag, listening to the playing of taps and amazing grace. It came rushing back faster than I could even try to stop it. Watching that casket close, hearing taps outside, the 21 gun salute, Chas kneeling down in front of me handing over that flag.
Why me? Why does this have to be me?
After the ceremony, I received more hugs and condolences from other representatives. They came up to me with tears in their eyes, giving me hugs, shaking my hand, and telling me how amazing my speech was. I got approached by our old teachers telling me it was the best guest speaker they had ever heard. Veterans and people of the community offering condolences.
To me- it was just reality. There was nothing that was spectacular or different about my speech. It was simply the harsh reality of my life.
Oh, and on a semi-funny note. A recruiter definitely tried to pick me up yesterday. His line? "Hey, nice dog tags." Really dude? A girl wearing dog tags is like a universal sign that she is taken. Him and the Sgt above him (who I met before and we had a longggggg chat about Seaburn, your little weasel recruiter, but that's not important right now) made up for it by taking our picture by the marquee. The Sgt also said "You ladies have the hardest job in the Marine Corps." It's nice to know people recognize that.
I think I made you proud babe. I tried and I was proud of myself for getting up in front of all of those people. It is so important to me that people know our story. That they know who you were and the sacrifice that you made.
I'm not gonna lie though- I'm always going to have that want in my heart to be selfish and keep you here with me..