A good friend of mine died yesterday. They found him in his apartment, alone. I found out via e-mail and when I read his name, I knew it was too late. Too late to call. Too late to write. Too late to say anything I would ever want to say to him. I had waited too long. Tears ran hot down my cheeks and I cried like a little girl. He was one of my marine brothers; one of those who served with my brother, Tony, in Vietnam some 40 years ago. We had become close and now, he was gone.
I sat there holding my iPhone (where I’d read the email delivering this terrible news) thinking of all the times I’d thought of calling and didn’t. Of all the times I thought, maybe I’ll send some more of those macaroons he loved so much, and didn’t. And of all the stories I wanted to share with him, and now, cannot.
I imagined him alone there in his apartment with all the photos of his buddies in Vietnam, all the clippings and emails and military information he buried himself in day-by-day, posting stories and events of days past. It kept him busy. Now, what will happen with all that information? Who will keep the communication going? Who will remember my friend and my brother’s comrade? I will remember him. I will remember him standing at Arlington National Cemetery on April 11, 2007, reading from Shakespeare, and I will always hear it in his heavy Boston accent as he delivered the words so eloquently and perfectly on that lovely spring day when we all came to remember my brother.
WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
May you rest in peace my dear friend and brother. I will miss you.