There's a song that keeps repeating in my mind. I don't remember all the words but what I can recall seems fitting for today. It's a very lilting tune...
If my words have hurt you,
I will trouble you no more.
It's odd, the thoughts that cross your mind when you are in general thinking about nothing. I remember wondering how the sun could shine so brightly upon such a somber occasion. I wondered how the sun could shine at all when such a bright spark of life had been so tragically taken. I know that he is at peace now, but I so wish that he were still here...
Not many people came. Just family really. There were a few women that I didn't recognize and one that I've been told is Amy Allen. Such a lovely little thing. I know that Templeton would have been pleased that she came, he always spoke so highly of her.
I think that I am the only one who has noticed the tall silver haired man in uniform. He didn't stand with the procession but it was obvious that he was there to attend the ceremony. I watched as he came to attention, offering a sharp salute as the sound of rifle fire startles me out of my thoughts.
At some point the colors had been drawn from the casket. I cast my gaze toward the soldier holding the precisely folded flag while another carefully tucks in the last fold. In small, silent steps they make a perfect facing movement and walk towards us. John is standing beside me with Maggie on his other side. BA and his mother are just on the other side of her. John is wearing his uniform. As is BA. If not for the occasion, they would be very dashing.
HM, of course, is not here. They still haven't managed to coax him out of Templeton's room. He's been locked in there for days. The first day, John spent all day sitting next to the door with his back against the wall trying to get HM to open the door. He didn't. On the second day, John and BA took turns. Still the door didn't open. Even Maggie and Father Maghill tried.
They called Dr. Richter. He told them again that it would be best to have HM committed. That, perhaps, was not the best thing he could have suggested to get in good graces with John...or BA, for that matter. After the arguement it was settled that they should just leave HM alone and hope he worked it through.
John is holding the flag now. Everyone is drifting away, back to their cars. Father Maghill places my hand on his arm to gently guide me as we follow BA and his mother through the rows of headstones.
In the onset of the morning,
I will reach a distand shore.
I stop for a moment to glance back at John. He is still standing beside the casket hugging the flag close to his chest. The man I had seen earlier is standing at his side now. Father Maghill gently nudges me. He must know what I am thinking because he answers before I can form the question, "Colonel Decker."
"The man standing beside John. That's Colonel Decker."
I didn't know what else to say. The man had his hand on John's shoulder and I saw John nod at something he said. I stared at the pair for a moment longer before turning to follow Father Maghill once again.
John didn't say what he and the other man had spoken of. I'm not sure what to think of the situation. It strikes me as odd that a man who had spent the last years of his military career trying to catch a band of military 'fugitives' would attend the funeral service of one of those same 'fugitives'. My curiosity over the conversation was only held back by the look of calm and acceptance on John's face that had not been there before. Whatever they had spoken of, John had listened.
The drive back to the beach was quiet. I looked out the window and could see that a storm was brewing now. Everything was grey and still as we drove by. No one on the streets, not even children or animals. It was almost eerie.
I was just about to make my way back to my own house when BA called John from upstairs. He didn't sound worried as much as...excited. That's not the right word but it's all I can think of to describe it.
We quickly made our way up the stairs to find BA standing in the open doorway to Templeton's room. John rushed through and knelt next to the bed. I could see from the door that HM was lying in the center of the bed. he looked so still and I had to remind myself that BA hadn't sounded upset...
"He's just sleeping," John sat back on his heels and let out a deep breath.
I sighed my relief, "he must have gone down stairs for something and forgot to lock the door."
John brushed HM's hair back as he looked over his shoulder, "that's good."
BA stepped past me and I watched as he shook out a blanket he had pulled from the closet and placed it over the sleeping pilot. He gently pried something from HM's hands and then tucked the blanket around him. BA held the object that he had taken out for John to take. It was a picture of HM and Templeton.
Yesterday is mine,
Tomorrow time will have it's due.
We were all startled as Billy Jr. ran into the room and jumped on the bed with a bark. HM had even refused to let the little dog into the room. He had been so attached to Jr. that it was another scary indication of HM's mental state when he had started petting the original Billy more and more since Templeton's disappearance, finally ignoring Jr. all together in favor of the invisible original.
We all held our breath as HM stirred when Jr. leapt onto the bed and then we silently relaxed as he threw an arm around the little dog and snuggled up to him.
"Let's just let him sleep, but I think we ought to take turns staying with him so he doesn't wake up and lock the door again."
"Sure thing, Hannibal. I'll take the first watch."
"Ok, BA. Mrs. Eta..."
John made a gesture toward the door and we made our way back down the stairs.
"John, what are you going to do? About HM, I mean."
"I don't know. I'm not ready to stick him back in the VA." He rubbed the stubble on his jaw and then nervously ran a hand across his forehead, "Not only for Murdock, but for BA as well."
"He still feels responsible?"
"Yeah," He nodded. "I've tried to tell him, we all have tried to tell him. It's just that...well, he feels badly that he yelled at him."
"But it's not his fault! HM would probably be the same even if BA hadn't yelled at him!"
"I know that, and you know that, but...He was just as upset as the rest of us. It probably wasn't the best choice of words or the best target for them but Murdock hasn't ever been all that stable. It wasn't BA, it was just the whole situation..."
I placed a hand on his shoulder and gave him a squeeze. "It wasn't your fault either, John." I know that he knew I wasn't just talking about what was happening with HM.
"I know." He looks at me, his face filled with emotion, "I know. But why doesn't it feel real? Why does it feel like we're still waiting...?"
I could see it in his eyes when he looked at me. He thinks that what happened to Templeton is his fault and that he somehow could have, should have prevented it. I don't think that he's ready to let go of that responsibility just yet.
I pull him into a tight hug and he buries his head in my shoulder. Still the strong commander, he doesn't cry, he doesn't let go...I know that it will only get harder as time goes by until he can accept that Templeton is really gone. I pray that he can make his peace with that soon. HM and BA need him. Maggie needs him...we all need him.
Everything I live through,
Is all just thanks to you...