It was odd to be in a room of people who seemed to look up to her dad like he was some kind of hero. A part of her wanted to see him through their eyes just for a moment. She tried to picture him as this gallant man in uniform who saved the lives of many in his sacrifice.
But she did not care how many people he had saved. She just wanted him back. She knew that it was an exceedingly selfish thought, but she felt as though now there was an void in her chest which only her father could occupy.
She did not know any of the people in this room. She was sure that many of them had been in that room, and seen the exact moment when the light vanished out from behind his eyes like a star. A dead star, except this time there was no supernova, and he was simply gone.
That was what they saw him as, the hero. They said that they felt ‘sorry’ for her, for the loss of her parent, but of course they didn’t understand. They didn’t understand her agony that cut like a blade or the dull ache of true grief, they were just thankful to be alive. They didn’t understand what was going on in her head, what images crept into her head when she cried at night.
She wished that she could understand them, but she just didn’t. They had made a martyr of him, just like everyone who heard the story. All of the news anchors who had interviewed her, pretending sympathy but only caring about what she could add to their story, to build up the image of him as a man who left a family behind to save strangers lives.
But it didn’t matter. She had been told so many times by stranger and relative alike that he would have been so proud of her, how gracefully she had handled this. But they couldn’t possibly know, because the time she was supposed to have with him had been stolen in a moment with the flash of a gun. She would never get to see him again, get to know him as an adult, have him walk her down the aisle and hand her away.
She was left only with the memories she still had of him, and a piece of granite with his name on it.