Saturday, June 12, 2004

Sleep Well, Nancy

I must admit that for the most part, I've been mostly avoiding all the hoop-la that went on last week for Ronald Reagan's long good bye. Yes, I know he was an important figure in our country's history and all, but it did seem like it was never ending.

Inevitably, I would flip through the channels and stop for a minute when the cameras were on Nancy. She was ever stoic in her myriad of black suits. Each time I saw her she looked more and more tired and lost.

There was one time when she was being filmed having a moment "alone" with the flag draped coffin of her husband when he was Washington. I watched as she very gently stroked the flag, almost as if it was her husband's skin. She spoke a few words which, (being able to read lips to a degree) I was able to make out to be "I love you" and "I miss you." Then she very lightly put her cheek upon the coffin before turning to walk away. My heart, as I'm sure everyone else's heart did, just ached for her.

You see, it doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican in times like these. This is a non-partisan human experience that ALL of us can relate to.

Last night, I decided that I would watch the final ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He had specified that he wanted his burial to be at sunset and what a beautiful sunset it was. The honor guard brought the coffin in and put it on the stage and the Eulogies from the children began. All of them were so beautiful and poignant and had a bit of humor in them, which I think President Reagan would have approved of.

The honor guard then took the coffin to the burial site led by a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace.

I couldn't help but have a sigh of relief when I saw they had a chair for Nancy. The camera focused in on her during the graveside service and she looked so tired, so small and so frail, not to mention immensely sad.

The honor guard then folded the flag in the traditional triangle and it was presented to Nancy. I could not make out the words that the officer presenting the flag to her said, but it obviously affected her. She clutched the flag to her chest as she was helped up and led to the coffin for a final good bye.

This woman who had shown so much resolve the whole week before, finally did in public what I think until then she only kept for private times. She placed the folded flag on top of the coffin, placed her hands and her cheek on the coffin and dissolved into tears.

Ron, Patti and Michael were quickly at her side crying with her and trying to comfort her as best they could. As the country looked on, I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

As most of you know, Michael was adopted by President Reagan when he was married to Jane Wyman. Ron and Patti are the biological children of President Reagan and Nancy. There was one scene that I thought was especially sweet as the children gathered around Nancy. Ron stepped away from his Mother's side and invited Michael to be at her side, as he had been standing behind her up until that point. Michael hugged and kissed Nancy as Ron looked on. I thought that was such a selfless gesture on Ron's part.

My hope, as I wiped away my tears for this grieving family, is that Nancy would be able to go home and sleep. To take off her heels and hose and black suit and change into her most comfortable clothes and be in her most comfortable place and sleep.

Sleep well, Nancy.


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