when we arrived at jim's service, there was a lone bagpiper by the door to the church. as soon as we opened the car door, we heard the bagpipes. haunting yet calming at the same time.
the service for jim was a beautiful tribute. lots of stories about his life from people who knew him in different ways, co-worker...friends of over 30 years...his mom (i do not know how she did that)...a baseball mom, etc. i knew before the service that jim was very loved, and seeing the large crowd of people there confirmed that. the honor gaurd continued to walk back and forth throughout the service from the front to the back of the church. there was something calming about watching their silent routine.
they had a slideshow that showed many pictures of jim with his loved ones and friends, it was nice to get a glimpse of his life through the years. everyone has those childhood pics with the plaid outfits and crazy hair that make everyone smile and laugh - even if just for one second.
jim and his family were very strong in their faith. their pastor said that about a week before jim passed he asked him if it was ok that he didn't want to die and that he wanted to see his children grow up. i don't think that there was a dry eye in the church at that moment. very hard. very real. very sad.
towards the end of the service, the bagpiper played amazing grace and walked around the perimeter of the room. those first chords of amazing grace always represent loss. when he was finished, over the intercom they broke into the live dispatch from the sheriff's office. they said jim's call sign over the radio multiple times, and then "jim orr, gone but not forgotten." i literally think that you could hear hearts breaking across the room, mine and barretts among them.
we decided to not go to the gathering afterwards, i didn't know if i could do that. that is ironic i know since the service would have been the emotionally toughest part of the day. i couldn't face someone asking me "so how did you know jim?" because i knew i would lose it and would simultaneously make a stranger and myself very uncomfortable.
i am very thankful that barrett was with me. i know that going was very hard on him. we had many of the same thoughts/fears that went unsaid. unspoken because we both knew what the other was dealing with. sometimes it seems just feeling it is enough, the words being said aloud make it hurt that much more.
after i finish writing this, i am going to write a letter to jim's wife and send my sympathy card. there are things that i want to make sure that she knows about my friendship with jim and what he meant to me, and writing will be the best way for me to do that. maybe it will bring just a little bit of healing for both of us.
i see his picture when i open facebook. i have emails from him in my inbox.
i like it that way.