The funeral was on Saturday and I was struck by the sheer number of emergency services personnel in dress uniform, the polished emergency vehicles from multiple counties, the enormity of the American flag hanging between two ladder trucks, the filled-to-capacity parking lot, the flawless orchestration of many firefighter-cum-parking attendants, and the wave-after-wave of attendees from all walks of life flowing out of vehicles and into the auditorium. All this before we'd even parked our car.
Inside was a more predictable, but nevertheless painful, procession of events. Guest books and soothing music. Receiving lines and displays of personal effects. Lots and lots and lots of mourners. We signed in, greeted some friends, and found seats among other friends.
I will not detail the entire service, but it was truly beautiful and honoring. There were testimonials, slideshows, service traditions, and more. And toward the end there were bagpipes.
In truth, when I heard there would be bagpipes, I knew I would appreciate the tradition of the music, but that I wasn't necessarily looking forward to it anymore than I would, say, a beginning band performance.
But then, I had never heard THESE bagpipes for THIS purpose.
They played Amazing Grace and they hit perfect notes and they harmonized perfectly and the drums rolled a perfect light thunder and they crescendoed and they decrescendoed... until the listener realized... I realized that the primary fading notes were traveling farther and farther away, much as Jason, who carried an important melody for all of us, had also gone away.
I cannot adequately describe the service no more than I can wholly describe grief. I hope Jason knew in life how valued and loved he was. I hope everyone can know how valued and loved they are.
[The video above was not taken by me, but was shared on Facebook. It was taken after the service, at a pub gathering in Jason's honor. While it's not the haunting version from the service, it shows the talents of Eastside Firefighters Pipes and Drums.]