Before the colors were retired, Captain Vomero of Squad 41 presented Emily with a memorial firefighter helmet, as Charlie handed Bruce’s dress hat to Meghan.
Years ago, Meghan had added a piece of paper to the inside of Bruce’s hat so that when he took it off, he would see it. It said, “I love you, Dad” and was signed “Megs.” That note was still there.
Captain Vomero instructed the firefighters to file out. Again, there was a standing ovation and thunderous applause. And then Emily, Meghan, and I walked out the side door followed by my family. I felt like I was leading a parade.
Outside the church, we were met by a silence that was almost palpable. As I walked around to the front of the church toward the firefighters standing in formation, I heard only one sound: my heels on the pavement.
The firefighters stared straight ahead as I passed them wearing a weak smile. There were people standing across the street, but what I remember most of all was that silence.
Silence except for the click, click of my shoes on the pavement.
There was no bagpiper. I had decided the sound of bagpipe music was something I couldn’t prepare myself to hear.
That would’ve been too much.
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