Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rest In Peace, Colonel Bill

He was my hero.

Nurse Nancy said it to me on the phone this afternoon.
I was about to say the same thing to her.

When bullets began to fly, he ran toward them.
He was bleeding.  His head had intersected with a 9mm shell.  
He was 75 years old.
He tackled the shooter.

One year later, at the same grocery store, at the same time of day, we survivors and citizen heroes and families and friends gathered to celebrate the creation of Americans for Responsible Solutions, Gabby Giffords' and Mark Kelly's attempt to right the world.  There was a big crowd, and there was visible security.  Before the ceremony began, as the media readied itself,  my achy hip took refuge on a chair next to Col. Bill's wife.  

"Where's TBG?" she wondered.
"Where's Col. Bill?" I replied.

We scanned the crowd, and then felt gentle taps on our shoulders.
TBG had gone around the crowd clockwise.  Col Bill had gone the other direction.  They hadn't planned on bumping into one another but that's exactly what happened at the half-way point.  Neither one was looking where he was going.  Each one was making sure that there were no threats in the vicinity.  Sure, there were security guards, but they weren't our husbands.  They were bound and determined to be aware and observant and to keep us safe.

It was like that every time I was with him.  
He could never hear Christina-Taylor's name without tearing up.
He wept for the loss and for the powerlessness and for the senselessness.
He wept for her parents and for me and for all of us.

Until the very end, though, for the most part his eyes were sparkling.
He was proud of his son and his wife and modestly beamed at the beautiful award with the powerful words from the U.S Army.... which thinks he was a hero, too.

He was a man who took his anger to the public domain.
He was tireless in his efforts to educate legislators about responsible gun controls.
He was a powerful spokesman, this gentle soldier who felt a personal responsibility for all of us who were there that day. 

Our gatherings will be just a little bit empty, now that he's gone.
He was part of the glue which binds us.
I'm going to enjoy imagining him ... his hugs.... his smiling eyes....stuck to my shoulder.

Rest in Peace, Colonel Bill.
You will be missed.


  1. My sincere condolences. The world has indeed lost a great person. May you all find comfort and peace in the knowledge of his friendship and care for you.

  2. I saw that he had died and I was so very sad. He lived a meaningful life and the world will not be the same without him.

    Sending massive hugs and love your way.

    Megan xxx

  3. Such a brave man. Bravery has no age. It is an ageless and selfless love that wells up and acts. May none of us every have to call up such bravery again.

  4. My beautiful husband, Bill. I am reading this on his birthday and hardly able to see through my tears. Thank you for your wonderful remembrance of this most lovely man.

    1. We all loved him, Sallie. His grace and his strength will continue to sustain me.... though I will miss him terribly. Thank you for sharing him with us <3


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