American Flags...

are everywhere i go as we prepare for the fourth of july. i love the American Flag. i love anything that has to do with America actually. but i never thought that the flag would take on another meaning for me. i never thought i would see the American Flag carefully draped over my husbands casket. i never thought i would sit in a chair clenching the hands of my older brother and tims youngest brother as the honor detail folded that American Flag over and over again into a tight triangle. i never thought the military would then present that flag to me on their knees and thank me for his service while taps played in the distance. it was both the most beautiful and heartbreaking moment i have ever experienced. 

that flag feels like a lifeline to me and i cant totally explain why. after the funeral i carried tims flag with me everywhere. i would go for walks in my parents neighborhood and have it tucked under my arm. i went for dinner at my aunts house and i brought it with me. i would lay on the couch watching tv and hold it against my chest. i sat outside in a lawn chair drinking and listening to music with the flag in my lap. when the time came for me to fly back to miami the flag came with me. i carried it through the airport like a medal of honor for both me and tim. tims proudest moments in life came from his time spent in the military. it gifted him great friends that became brothers. gave him a sense of meaning and direction. and it gave him a lot of amazing stories. it was by far his favorite topic to talk about. as i walked through the airport people would approach me and ask me about his flag. it was a selfish and needy way for me to tell his stories again. the stories that i had heard hundreds of times if not more. the stories i had joked with him about for telling too much. telling them to strangers made tim feel alive for me. i felt like it was my battle scar showing others what i had gone through what i had lost and that i had survived...kinda. 

now ill tell you about wednesday. wednesday i went to michaels (the store) to pick up some stuff for work. i am by no means crafty or a do it yourselfer but man i fucking love michaels. i was just aimlessly wandering through every aisle looking at all the useless gadgets and treasures that i didnt need when i stumbled into the frame section. what do you think they had displayed front and center? memorial flag cases... 

damn michaels cant you cut a girl some slack? im just innocently trying to pick up some tacks for work and youve got to knock me down like this? weirdly enough i have had a conversation with tim in the past in this same exact michaels about those very same memorial flag cases. tim wanted to get one to put his military photos certificates and awards in. at the time i told him that those cases were for deceased military service men and women. not living ones. i so specifically remember saying the words "you dont have a flag to put in there babe, we will buy you a frame but not one of those."

i just stood there holding my dumb purchases in my hands staring at those cases. i thought about our conversation in that same aisle three years ago and how strange everything is now. now his military photo stares back at me from the obituary page of an old newspaper. the certificates and awards he won were lined up for display... but at the funeral home not in our home. and that flag that he didnt have...well it lays next to me on his side of the bed.

when i look at the American Flag today... i see and feel tim. 

-s