Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Jacket

I have Tim’s school bag. The strap is torn from the impact and heavy from his school books.  I don’t know exactly what happened to his jacket that he was wearing.  It was my jacket which was my platoon jacket from when I was in the Police Academy – my name and class number and platoon designation of “A”.  Over the years it became a ratty thing that Tim took to wearing.  I offered to buy a replica of it but he refused.  He continued to wear it; he told me he wore it because he was proud of me and it made him feel safe. When I see the pictures of him wearing it, I think how many times I had sewn a hole or two over the years.


I think his mother said her sister took it when it was released from the investigation.  I know it was blood soaked and would be something too painful to keep.  I start crying and then get pissed at myself thinking I should have just bought him a new copy of the jacket…all it had was my last name and my class and platoon number. 

Another grieving father had pointed out that I had bought a copy of the jacket; it would not have been the same because it was not mine.  He continued by pointing out Tim wanted me near him and that I had, in a way, wrapped my arms around my son when he left this world.  I was encouraged to look at it as a gift I bestowed on my son.  I had thought of it.  I thought of how in literature, religion, and mythology clothing was used as a gift to offer some form of protection, conversion, or transition.

J.R.R. Tolkien used clothing as a gift in The Fellowship of the Ring.  On his quest to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, Frodo is given, by Bilbo, dwarven  coat of mail of Mithril – metal lighter and stronger than steel.  The mail saved Frodo from a spear and an arrow, while the Fellowship battled Orcs, in the Dwarven mountain kingdom of Moria.  Later Galadriel, the Lady of the Woods, gave Frodo an Elven cloak that camouflaged him as a boulder as he neared the completion of his dangerous quest.

J.K. Rowling uses a cloak of invisibility through her Harry Potter novels.  Harry Potter received a cloak of invisibility which was instrumental in the battle against Lord Voldemort.  Harry’s father James, just before his death at the hands of Voldemort, had lent the cloak to Dumbledore.  During Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, Dumbledore gave it, as a Christmas present, to the young wizard in training.

Saint Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier, in about the year 334, was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens in Gaul (now Amiens, France), and met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his military cloak in half to share with the man. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me." When he woke his cloak restored to wholeness.

So looking back, with the input from another grieving father, looking from the outside-in, I can agree that perhaps I was in a sense doing all I could to protect or comfort my son at the time of his death.