So, it’s those first three notes that stop me every time.
The last time it happened was on Wednesday. I was running out of the loo in a fully booked clinic after a mid-patient wee, when I heard those notes call out on the radio. As I heard them, they held me to the spot. Made me sink my feet as roots into the ground. Despite having loads of other things I was supposed to be doing – I couldn’t move. So I listened. To every, single note that followed through the song.
In doing so, held in it’s stillness, I heared every note of the lonely, solitary call of “The Last Post.”
No-one in my immediate family ever went to war. Yet somehow, every time I hear those first three lonely notes call out into the world, I’m struck silent. It not only stops me for the whole of the lonely song, but also for the minute of silence that follows.
My Pop never went to war. He lived out his working life in innercity Melbourne. It was a time when in working class Carlton, butchers outnumbered cafes. My Pop smoked cigarettes, drank beer with his mates and was loved as fiercely as any family could love a man. I never knew my Pop. He got a bit crook when my own Dad was just shy of growing up. Back then, a bit crook covered everything from a cough to cancer. My Pop had both. That very demon disease that continues to haunt my loves today.
I don’t think of my Pop very often. Not because I don’t love him, but I’ve never seen even a photo of him. He lives only as a creation in my mind. I don’t think we could look alike. I’m all arms and legs, more like my mum than my dad. To me my Pop is really tall and his hair is big and red. He has a broad chest and an even bigger smile. He hugs you so hard he’s just short of squashing you.
He’s a man that’s not afraid to tell you that he loves with all his heart.
I stood outside that loo at work on Wednesday, silently listening to the bugle’s call, when I suddenly thought of my Pop. With the thought came a ferocious sense of loss. Loss of not knowing a man who created my Dad’s world. Loss of not understanding why the good have to die too young. Loss of missing out on rib breaking cuddles that I was never able to feel or grandparents days I had always had to miss. In those three lonely notes my head whirled with grief for all that was wrong and all that was unfair. All that I had lost in him even though I had never had him.
Until my heart stepped in.
In a breath, I felt my Pop in my chest. He breathed into me and out with me. I sensed his strength in my lungs. I felt his tickle along my arms. I knew his place in my heart.
Think heart openers, backbends and met meditation.
You don’t have to be at war to get lost in what you don’t understand. The Last Post asks of us to stop and remember them. Those who fought for “us”. Those who fought for “them”. And for me, those who didn’t get the chance to fight at all. What we can take from Remembrance Day and from all the atrocities that have happened this week, is that we hold each of our family within us. They breath in us, they feel in us, they hope in us. This time more than any, we are asked to remember that we are one. To remember that not only is there a part of “them” in us – there’s part of “us” in them. This is not a time to pray for peace.
This is a time to be it.