Sunday, July 4, 2010


Wrangling a bear cub can't be easy, but it must be easier than this.

It has never been lost on me that my daughter's name is a near-homonym of violence; Violet commits violence to the air-sickness bag that was tucked (probably for years) in the seat-back pouch in front of us.

After the routine rundown of safety procedures, the lead steward also informs us that our plane, and its carrier, are saddened but proud to have one of our fallen soldiers on board. He explains, in our two official languages, that the Colonel aboard had "given her life" for our Country and, presumably, the principals she seeks to uphold in Afghanistan.

Violet eats a bruised banana and I remember my grandfather. "Soldiers don't give their lives, they have them taken from them," he told me many times.

"Elle est tombée en service," is what the steward says during the French half of the address. That's it, I think, a tomber: you know that you might fall, but you sure don't want to.

As the plane taxis away from the gate, I have to press the baby to my chest in preparation for take-off, essentially assuming our crash position, just in case.

Out the window I see that the grounds crews have halted their peculiar vehicles, standing at attention beside them as the plane passes them. A baggage-lift driver is holding a flag over his head, snapping stupidly in the jet wash and barely visible.

"Agua," says Violet, looking at the lake as we ascend. In the hour-long flight, she doesn't lose any fingers and I sweat through my shirt.

When we land, the sober steward announces that in honour of our fallen soldier, it is requested that we passengers remain seated until the coffin is unloaded. Though he doesn't specifically mention that we should be silent, we do. Even Violet.

We all hear the hydraulics of the cargo bay and a great deal of clunking that probably isn't the coffin but sure makes us think about it. What it must be like, a military coffin? Hard and likely aluminium. Probably sturdy. Surely not actually draped in a flag in transit? I wonder if her parents are at the airport.

Strangely, I hope that she's OK down there. Which, how could she be.

Violet has cheese in her hair and I kiss her between her eyes.

1 comment:

AdrianaIsabel said...

Hold her always in your arms and kiss her often. You never know if she will be the one to "serve" her country. What an emotional moment for for you and me, because I was there when you told us and when I read this excellent essay.