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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: He is not here
By Paul Swann
02/22/08


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A balloon rises slowly above the crowd.

It is a somber – immensely sad, crowd. The balloon has escaped from the others, perhaps by design – maybe it symbolizes the departure of the lifeless body of the one lying in a casket a few feet ahead of me – maybe the worker herding them just let one slip.

It doesn’t really matter.

It rises – painfully slow – and I cannot help but stare. I also can not help but stare at the two small – now fatherless – children of the one lying here in the American flag draped casket that will forever house his lifeless form.

I cannot help the drenching sadness that engulfs me: didn’t I speak with him last week; didn’t we share a plane trip to Dallas a few weeks ago? Wasn’t he just here?

But he is not here — this we have been reminded of numerous times throughout the long, but appropriate, service. He is not here, he is gone. And we are all the more diminished, especially these two small ones in front of me.

A lone bugler, standing some distance from the crowd, now plays “Taps”. He played “Amazing Grace” a few minutes earlier as the pallbearers dressed in Class A military green made their way to the grave. He had been waiting for some time as the service at the church ran overtime.

The pastor had asked friends and family to tell a story about this fallen one. Many did, including the widow and small daughter. What I remember was her words, “It isn’t fair … that my dad isn’t here.”

And she is right.

I learned so much more about this officer because of this service – his humor, his family, his loyal friends, and even his eating habits, which failed to stabilize his insulin levels, which caused the seizure, and crossing the middle line…

But here is not here — he is gone.


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This article has been read 410 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Patrick Whalen02/28/08
Quite an emotional story. Its hard to comment because it sounds like a personal experience. I would have liked to read more about the man who passed.
pam Leitermann02/28/08
Very emotional story great job
Arlene Showalter 02/28/08
This is very touching...love the beginning w/ the "escaped" balloon. With a bit tighter writing, this piece would double its impact. Nice job.
Nancy Quinn02/29/08
Wonderful writing, thanks for sharing. I liked the touching part about the balloon. God bless :)
Seema Bagai 03/01/08
An emotional story. Watch your use of dashes. They were a bit distracting and commas could be used instead. Keep writing.
Yvonne Blake 03/02/08
Very touching and poignant.
I would have enjoyed a little more description of the people and the setting.
Good symbolism in the balloon. Keep writing.
Beckie Stewart03/05/08
This is sad and real. Thanks for sharing it.