We left of as Shelly was trying to turn around to see the casket for one last time — let’s pick up and finish up —
I don’t know what happened next.
I walked out, and hugged his family goodbye, see you tomorrow for the ceremony and that they would be over earlier to go to the ceremony together.
I dreaded tonight and tomorrow morning. I would go early so the girls could somehow adjust to the surroundings.
Night came, the house seemed so empty, mom had left already, it was just me and the girls. I went through the fridge to find some type of food, oh wait, there was a box dropped off earlier by Suzy. I went through the box, made a quick meal for the girls, let them eat and put them in bed. I walked through the house, so clustered, such disarray. Travis’s cloths already donated, they had to be donated, except a few outfits that I had kept, His uniforms, so they girls could know what their daddy did, still hung up, his bulky shoes still on the mat. Mail piled high on the stand in the kitchen, and now a pile of cards to open and read. I made some coffee, and started. reading the sympathy cards. At times, they do find the right words, some cards had checks and some had cash. So thoughtful, so appreciated, at least I knew I could buy some groceries next week, and that I could pay some bills. My dad made sure that I had contacted the Survivor’s link to report Travis death, and reassured me that the girls and I could be finically decent until I found a job, after finishing school.
It took a while but the last card was read, last name written down, for I needed to remember to send out Thank you cards, and wrote down the names of all the fire halls to send thank you notes. Death. Funeral. They say a divorces are hard and difficult and the mounds of paperwork to go through, proving death to my school was hard.
Morning came, and it was time to get ready for the ceremony the girls dressed in white and black polka dot sundresses with a big pink button on the side. Take away the situation they looked adorable. I couldn’t drive that day either, so Lizzy drove me, as Suzy and her family my parents and the girls.
We pulled into the driveway; I glanced at the sign near the road, which read
R.I.P Travis Silver.
I entered the building that had already members from surrounding fire communities, family, friends, and even scattered family members from previous chapters of my life, adopted parents, foster parents and biological parents. I made my way up to the front and sat with my youngest on my lap. I turned around and once again tears welled up in my eyes seeing a sea of black uniformed caps on the heads of the members of the fire community. All uniforms crisp, faces weary, eyes red, backs straight. It would make one proud to see such a sight. Goosebumps ran down my body.
As I turned around, seeing the American flag and the fire community flag next to Travis’s closed casket, I couldn’t think. I so wanted an open casket but it was told to me that it would be an inconvenience for they would have to usher everyone out to close the lid.
One of the firemen form his company came forward, Terry, one of the co-workers of Travis, who helped him by coaching him to lose weight.
“Let me assure you right now, today…. that spark you saw in his eyes was 100 times brighter when he talked about you and the two girls. The three of you were the light in his life,” said firefighter Terry.
Oh, that spark. Travis’s eyes would sparkle when he would retell a story of how a fire was put out, or whose life was just saved.
Another firemen went on to say” He had great skills and respectable bed-side manner,” said Captain Otter. “He and I recently took an ITLS class together, and Travis really excelled, even doing better than some Paramedics in the course.”
Towards the end of the ceremony, Jim came forward with the words,
“This is the last call, for Cherry Hill firefighter Travis Silver. In your short time in the Cherry Hill Fire Department, you touched many lives. Thank you for your dedication, sense of humor, and huge heart. Although you are gone you will never be forgotten. God Bless.”
As the assembly said farewell to Silver after the services, his final call came from dispatch.
The golden bell reminded me of a smaller bell from Pa.
As it was struck three times, chills ran down my spin.
One. Goosbumps, I tried to swallow my tears.
Two. My God this is happening. I tighten my hold on my Daughter.
Three. No. No.
Someone was tapping me. It was time to rise. My mom takes my daughter from me. The pallbearers start to carry the casket, the congregation starts to walk out the back. My body quivering I follow, Lizzy next to me, carrying me as I try to keep my head up. We walk out of the rec room. We slowly and solemnly walk out the side doors and there was a line of firefighter’s on both sides of me, bag pipers are playing Amazing Grace in the background. The respect that was being shown for the man Travis was beautiful.
The pallbearers stop as they reach the Hurst. Oh God, this is not happening, I wanted to rush forward, throw back the lid, this was not happening, he was alive, he was somewhere, this is not true. But I know it, this was the last time, I would ever be close to him again, even it was five feet away, even if it was in a casket, it was his body, his soul was not there, it was here, it was surrounding us. I shake as the pipes are played, the scanners go off
“This is the last call for Firefighter Travis, May You Rest in Peace” —
The back doors of the Hurst are shut. The director gets into his vehicle and drive off, leaving the assistant director in charge. His assistant stays, and motions for everyone to go inside for refreshments and lunch. I couldn’t eat. I just couldn’t, I could hear laughter as stories are swamped, tales are traded, and memories are being remembered and made. A while passes and the chief calls me up to the floor.
“When a firefighter passes, such as Travis, we retire the number, and give the helmet to his spouse” he says.
“Mrs. Silver will you accept this offer” the chief asks of me.
“Yes, and please, remember, my door is always open, please stop by, anytime”, I reminded them and gingerly took Travis’s fire helmet out of the chief’s hands.
“Thank you” the chief says and the circle of firemen nodded their heads in appreciation.
“And thank you” I told the chief and nodded back to the circle of firemen.
I clutch the helmet like my life depended on it, It still smelled like him, it still smelled like smoke and sweat. Such a relief.
I wouldn’t have his body in three days, but later that day as the family gathered at my house and sat at the dining room table I made it aware to the family that I planned on putting him to rest as soon as I received the ashes.
“Better not be Friday”, his younger sister quipped,” its show day, “
“What” I asked in disbelief.
“It’s show day at the fair, Scotty is showing his cow, we can’t bury Travis Friday”
What the fuck I think. You mean to tell me you prefer showing some piece of beef then burying your brother.
“Okay” I managed to say. “Is there anything can do, o that you want to remember Travis by. Luke, I am giving you his shotgun since you two had that memory when you were younger. Please take it and remember Travis fondly”.
“Thank you. Do you want anything for it”. Luke asks.
“No, why would I charge, this is something that you had with him”.
“Oh Shelly, while were here, we think you should hire an attorney to handle the paperwork for the accident” Luke says with a matter of fact attitude and the rest of the siblings nodded and leaned in with approval of what Luke has just said.
“Huh?” I ask, I had no idea what they were talking about.
“You will need an attorney we have one in mind, he’s good Chester knows him”.
“No I don’t know him, someone I know knows him”, Chester says, correcting Luke.
“Anyways, the sooner the better, you need to file a lawsuit and sue the other driver, you should c’mon Shelly, the other driver killed Travis, he is alive, he basically took food of your table, cloths of your back and money out of the bank by killing Travis, he was the breadwinner, and you cant afford daycare and a job!… not in this town, and yeah, you’re in school, you can’t get a job right now and be able to do it all. Besides he needs to be brought to justice, make him pay for the pain you feel”. Luke declares.
Okay, I was accepting of the help from an attorney that I had no idea how I would be able to afford, but any help with the paperwork form the car insurance would be gladly be accepted, for I had no idea what paperwork laid in store for me, all I know is that it was a lot.
After meeting with the attorney some of my anxiety was put to rest, but I was still skeptical, so much had happened in these four days; I hopped on Facebook to see what was happening in the on-line world to escape my reality. The house was still oddly quiet, there were dishes in the sink, still hadn’t eaten that day, and the pile of mail…but…it could wait, why bother?
I penned the following after looking at Travis’s page, to read what other’s had written to him,
To my Teddy Bear,
It has been a week since you were taken from us. The pain in my heart it’s just. I cannot find a word for it..but bear with me love, you know I eventually find a word…you know…I wanted to tell you that your daughter’s are in excellent hands and that not to worry there is an extraordinary support team standing behind us… I miss you, miss you more than words can explain. The time you asked me to go out with you still plays in my head like it just happened yesterday…your laugh, your touch and your smell …. your hugs could just make everything bad disappear…I wasn’t afraid of the world when you were here for we fought together… but then again if I was the world I wouldn’t want to mess with us either ..col.. we were perfect together ….. well at least in heaven you can bite those fingernails all you want — col — I love you Travis, and I know it will sound childish but it’s not fair…. but we need to understand that heaven may need you more than us (even though that is difficult to process)… you have a blast up there, and I will see you when it’s my time —
Something changed in me that night. I switch was turned on or off, not sure what. I was now the head of my household, I was the women in charge, I was now a single mother of two beautiful girls, my husband was killed, and now, I was on the path to find out what, why, and what the fuck needed to be done next, and I dared to whomever in my path to stay there. The next two days where tedious, getting caught up on the gardens, going through the fridge that had barely been open, phone calls to the funeral home for now they could give me back his uniform, his rings that he had on those two days, as well as the urns that contained Travis’s now cremated body. What once was flesh was now turned to ash.
Holding his rings just started to clarify that his body was not here anymore. They had become ashes, why of course, they were ashes, these urns held what used to be his physical body. I have one, his sister who cared, and the fire hall, the three places that he loved to be at, three places where he felt happy.
Now it was time to bury the ashes, the day was sunny, but not our hearts as we stood under the tent, I did not shed a tear, but I was choked up. I was becoming angry, I was angry, how dare he leave us. Only a handful of people came out, and it seriously started to dawn on me how things were going to be played out, how empty the words actually were, how insincere some comments were.
I came home, fed the girls, laid them down for their afternoon nap and penned these words:
Would like to take the time to thank each and every individual that has stood by our family in this time of sorrow. We appreciate it. Even though Travis’ body has been laid to rest today, the memories of him will never die nor fade away. – August 6 – 2011
||“Ah, to think how thin the veil that lies Between the pain of hell and Paradise.” George William Russell
After Travis’s body was laid, the traffic died down immensely, but, that was already taking place. Barley anyone called, texted, stopped by or anything.
Days afterwards of burying Travis’s body, the harassments from the neighbors started. Cruel words were said, crude and cruel comments were thrown my way. The hurt that was felt got to the point, I couldn’t even open my curtains for the taunts were so earsplitting horrendous.
I had to start to look for a new home for my daughter’s and myself. Not even a month had passed since I laid my husband, my daughter’s father to rest.
Luckily, I still had the support from Suzy who gave me a night off one Friday. I took the chance to clean out the garage that night. I walked into the two car cement garage with the paint peeling on the sides, and I felt weary already. I took down some construction helmets that were resting on the garage shelves, my fingers grazed the stickers that Travis and I had placed there not even three years ago, his scent wafted towards my nose, and I knew I needed help to get this job done.
I ran towards the back entrance of our three bedroom home and grabbed the full bottle of whiskey, two bottles of rum and a full bottle of hypnotic, and carried them out to the garage. I downed the bottle of hypnotic like it was water. I started to throw odds and ends into a box…stuff I had no clue whether or not to keep but I knew this had to be done. As I downed the bottle of rum, I walked over and bent down to hold close to my heart ..his helmet, and smelled his scent that still lingered, I started to ball, now the bottle of rum was gone. I crawled over to my whiskey, unscrewed the lid and started to gulp the liquid down. It felt like syrup as it passed my taste buds. As I sat there, memories washed over me, I started to succumb to the alcohol that was inside. With each gulp, the pain started to subside, as I finished the whiskey I collapsed on the garage floor, holding tight to the helmet that Travis and I stickered together with his names and Union only stickers.
I was awoken suddenly to my phone ringing, my speech still slurred it was Lizzy
“Hey girl , how you doing” she says cheerfully.
“Not good, I need someone” I slurred as I try to sit up.
“Oh …I’m sorry I already drove by, wish I could have swung by….you sound kinda drunk you ok” Lizzy says.
“No, I need him Lizzy” I started to weap again.
“Oh, I know sweetie we all do” Lizzy says trying to console me, all I could think was Fuck you saying we all.
“I started to pick up the garage and I came across his helmet Lizzy, …I started to cry it still has his scent” I went on to tell Lizzy.
“Oh that sucks Shelly, I am on my way up to meet Daren, you know that cutie I told you about” Lizzy says.
“I need someone here Lizzy” I cried unto her.
“I know sweetie we all need someone” Lizzy stated.
Then it hit me like a plank, it was only the girls and I.
|In a way it’s sad but sweet …. both girls now hold onto multiple pictures off their daddy to go to sleep …. During the day those pictures barely leave their hands well except to get after one another …
“Oh okay Lizzy you go have some fun”.
That night I would have the shock of my life, for a distant friend of Travis would stop by. After I hung up with Lizzy. Matt phoned and said that Lizzy had called him, and it sounded like I could use someone. I said I did.
I rushed inside the best I could in the somewhat stupor shape I was in, brushed my teeth and fixed my face and hair for it was just horrid.
I had mentioned to Lizzy earlier that week that I wanted to pack the china cabinet that still held Travis’s ashes and photos with other mementos, but I needed help packing them for the move, for I felt like I was packing him away. All I could say if someone asked me at that point would be to:
When I hear silence all I want is to hear ur voice/laugh/ur heartbeat… when i see ur pic all i want is u in mortal form.. when i try to sleep at night all I want is u too say hush my love it’s gonna be alright and wrap me in ur strong arms … they say time will heal … but my heart is still heavy … my muscles ache and my heart/soul/eyes r still waiting for u to come
I cannot believe it — I am already halfway through this current term and need to register for next term classes as I am packing. I felt like saying “c’mon life give me anther fucken ball and I will hit it right out of the atmosphere, like I haven’t had enough for a while.
The move went decently enough, never know I had so much shit, until I started to pack a three bedroom house myself, I was fortune, for I had help from Travis’s brothers and family. It was odd; since Travis had passed the brothers appeared to be somewhat humane towards me. Yet, perhaps it was because of the girls and the responsibility they felt. It can be sad that it takes a death for family to feel that.
I reached out one more time through Facebook,
Would like to take the time to thank each and every individual that has stood by our family in this time of sorrow. We appreciate it. Even though Travis’s body has been laid to rest, the memories of him will never die nor fade away.
Even though these have been beyond trying days I am very deeply appreciated of every text/calls …. my door is open to anyone/everyone that wants to share memories and or even cry….. We all know Travis…yet we all carry a different piece of him…..
There was no response, my phone didn’t ring or text. I was alone in this canyon, I was my own guide.
It was early September now; the girls and I moved to a house that we had hoped to call home. But there was a flaw. The house was located near the lake, where there was a special moment that I held dear and near to my soul. Within five hundred feet where I would lay my head down at night was also the same place where Travis confessed his love he had for me.
When we had started to date we had to do it in secrets of his family for the crudeness that was shown, my parents were happy that their daughter was happy. One day, I had enough once again for what I was hearing through the grape vine; never know so much of one until you speak with the town gossip, so in retaliation I penned these words
seriously — want to know how i truly feel — okay here it goes — every muscle in my body hurts and aches -from the top of my head to the soles on my feet- I can’t sleep — my girls are always up to no good (always getting into mischief and making messes – but hey that’s kids for you — right?)– i had to move for the safety of my family only a little after a month after my husband was killed — my world is shattered yet I’m still trudging on — i hit a bottle after bottle after bottle for one night cried my eyes out laying on the garage floor for i found a helmet that my husband had worn that we put together with those “stupid” stickers on it — i smelled it and it still smelled like him — every day is battle that i feel as though i am losing — yet i still trudge on — each day i feel as though something else is about to be taken from me — so this is how i feel — it is so flippen u know what — it’s so fucken irritating how you try to be so good and remain so fen positive and u still end up paying the price for someone else — it is so fucked up that now every time i have to explain to someone new that yes my husband is deceased — I don’t want pity –i want to be able to talk about him and have the ability to give them the understanding that Travis was an incredible man -I want to share stories with others that knew him as well- what else is fucked up — each day my girls are numerous times saying “daddy in heaven” and sometimes they do it out in public — of course heads turn — and yes i say “yes daddy is in heaven but what else is daddy” — they pipe up and say “daddy a hero “– so yes — i may appear to be “ok” — but lets take a deeper look then just the shallow outer appearance — lets look into the eyes and see the hurt the pain — lets listen to my heart that aches/and is broken — i seriously just want to give the fucken middle finger to the “time will heal” bs… but hey lets go back to where I normally pipe up with each negative comment and say well at least — (for yes, i can be quite levelheaded) and say that yes we moved to a place that is nicer — yea – guess what — about 500 ft. from where I sit now is the place where Travis first told me he loved me — 500 ft from where i sit now we planned our 1st move together — 500 ft from where i sit we would spend so much time together just sitting and gazing out at the water. Watching — talking– getting to know one another on a more deeper level — so with this battle inside my heart the battle inside my mind — the battle that I fight for my girls — the battle i fight just to get by — no one will truly comprehend – no one (ok perhaps a few will ) can understand thoroughly how mentally/emotionally/physically exhausting each day is- and that is another fucked up concept — so that is how i truly feel — i feel — i feel fucken old – sept 6, 2011
You know…it has been 9 weeks…yeah…i cannot believe it .. it feels like just yesterday when the news came of how you would not be coming home to us..ur wife…ur daughters….each time i ponder about how we will go on without you here it breaks my heart…each time i think about how it was you who would walk down the aisle to give our beautiful daughters away on the day they will wed i cry …. how we were going to make our children’s futures and childhood better then ours … and now …. or how when our daughters give us grandbabies … or how we would talk about our girls going into sports and how we were both gonna try and be there to cheer them on …. or how you wanted to advance everything you know …. or how we were gonna redo our vows …. each time these and more thoughts cross my mind not only am i wanting to cry but i become angry love…. I don’t understand how someone as strong and unbreakable as you … someone that was trying to create such a positive and healthy role model for their children can be taken… and how someone that is a disgusting piece of human flesh can still walk around disgracing the community they live in … babe just remember i love u …. and god damn no words can express how much i really miss u — ur essence — ur touch — ur soul -ur mind – ur hugs – ur everything — i miss hearing ur voice as read to the children — i miss talking with you — i miss seeing u at the end of the day and u telling me everything that had happened — i miss cooking/baking for u — i miss taking care of u — i miss ur spontaneous and adventurous spirit — i miss cuddling with you — you made me feel so safe — i miss .. i miss .. u….. i miss seeing you holding the girls — i miss ur laugh — i miss us …. i even miss us taking each others toothbrushes -( but hey u started it )- i miss ur little quirks and i miss our ability to compromise on anything — i am exhausted without u — i miss helping u on anything that u needed — i would say let me know if u need anything up in heaven cause i would try to send something but u wouldn’t — ur soul was pure — all i want is one last day with u but … i know that can not happen — i miss hearing i love u coming form u — u were so gentle yet so invincible —- u were perfect and we were perfect together —
I am tired, Beloved,
of chafing my heart against
the want of you;
squeezing it into little ink drops,
And posting it.
Your Green Eyed Vamp, (col .. I can still remember how you picked that one)