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His funeral was held outside, though it was winter and the bitter cold could not be ignored.
With solemn faces and constant stream of tears, the people there, draped in black, stood before his casket. And there, in a uniform, which was properly devoid of blood, and primped to look as handsome as he was in life, was his limp body.
"His memory will be forever immortal. He was a solider, a friend-a brother. And to everyone who knew him, he was loved by all. And no one shall ever forget-the bravery that this man showed on the blood-soaked land of Germany. And we will always remember that his courage was a virtue that saved countless lives. For that, he risked his own. And gave his own. B-but we rejoice him. Jonathan Stewert. The name that will continue to earn praise even now-now that he has left this world. "
The man who spoke at the podium was his brother, with eyes that were swollen and a voice that was cracked and weak. He gave a final look onto his audience of sorrowful friends and loved ones. Although his hand wobbled and he struggled to move himself, with cane in hand, he looked down upon his sibling and tears flowed freely from his red eyes.
There was a deep silence then, only interrupted by sniffles and cries. Until the respectful quiet was broken completely with the strong voice of the next person to step in front of the dark crowd.
"My son. My son-is dead. Because of this war. Because of unforgivable hatred. Yes, he served this country. And yes, he was brave. But my boy was much more than a solider who sacrificed himself. He was kind, and intelligent, and compassionate. And I loved him. There are no words to describe how painful it is to lose a child, and I can easily point a finger at the German army for taking him away from this world. I can blame Hitler and all of his injustice. But I know that Jonathan would just have wanted me-to say simply, that I love him and though he is no longer here, his mark is on my soul forever."
The woman crossed her heart with two fingers, her face was worn and aged, and when she stared with a collected look down at her son, there was no hint of emotion.
"Mother," he began with a cautious voice. "I miss you. And everyone-misses you, too. You need help. I know that you're stubborn, and will likely refuse to admit it, but because Jon has passed away, you need some support-"
"Daniel, please. Leave me be. I do not need your pity," the aged woman said with a frown.
She clasped her hands together and continued to gaze inadvertently at her kitchen wall.
"Mother-" he began, again, in a whisper. "Can't you just listen to me for once! I'm trying to help you!" Her son reproached bitterly, his voice now raised in volume.
And she reacted with a sharp twist of her neck and a new animosity in her eyes.
"No! I don't want to hear it! From any of you! Get out and leave me be! I do not want to be lectured in my own home! I have heard enough! Leave now!"
Her son, with his pale face and deep blue eyes that reflected her own, a plaid dress shirt and a leather hat, wrenched in one shaking hand, and the other around a thin wooden cane that he leaned against.
And after minutes of nothing, he spoke again. The man had a deep sadness in his voice that revealed that he was weak.
"Ma', I need you to-to be there for me. I love you. And I need someone to help me through this. I miss Jon. I was there when he died, and I'm there again-every night. But no one can save me from nightmares. I need help. That's what a family consists of-people who help one another. This is hard for me, too."
He dragged himself to her as she sat adamantly in her seat, arms crossed and unmoving. His body trembled as he did so, each step becoming a greater challenge. The cane rattled on the floor as it unwillingly shook. The woman turned away from her son and shook her head slightly as if in annoyance.
The man lowered himself to the floor beside her, and looked pleadingly onto her.
She jutted her chin and though he could not see, her bottom lip quivered, weak like his body.
And then, with his useless hand, he reached out for hers, and was surprised to find that she did not shift away in abhorrence. Instead, she tightened her grip. Then, she turned to look at her living son. With his undeniable frailness. And those blue eyes sparkled with tears. She cried, then. And wrapped her thin arms protectively around her son.
It was the single instance in sixteen years that she had shone any emotion.