By seven forty-five I made my way to the lobby. John Madigan, Trevor Summerfield, Lindsey Browning, (AFSP staff) were already there. As soon as she saw me, Lindsey gave me a print out of my bio to include in the folders for the NY Senators and Congresswoman. I was pleased with the efficiency of the organizers. Like a mother hen, John Madigan circled around making sure everybody was alright, ready and prepared.
By eight o’clock we boarded the bus and left for The Hill.
The butterflies in my stomach had nothing to do with the fact that I had yet to prepare my presentation. Like packing, I leave these things to the last-minute. No, my tummy was aflutter with purpose, with the sense of mission I’d felt ever since I saw my beautiful son lying in his coffin. If you too had seen him, you would understand why I think of him as a Fallen Knight. My Fallen Knight had thrown me the gauntlet, and here I was, four months after his death, fully engaged in peaceful combat.
And yet it was the waters of sadness that kept me afloat. Glancing out of the bus windows as we drove past the Lincoln Memorial, I imagined the conversation Andrew and I would have had after reading Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol, we would have been pointing out Masonic Washington all around us. I know that we would have, and he would have also come up with the extra snippets he always had about all sorts of subjects.
But he was not sitting on the bus next to me, even though I knew he was there in spirit;
I am here because of you Andrew. I mentally told him. I am here because I cannot let your death be the end of you. I am here because you will never be yesterday’s news story.
“Reagan wanted to face West for his inauguration,” John’s voice brought me back to the present and I saw that we had arrived.
Over the hill and far away, the lines from a song from Andrew’s favorite band, Nightwish, came to my mind as I climbed out of the bus.
After individual and group photos, we dispersed to our various appointments. Mine, with Nita Lowey at the Rayburn Building, was not until twelve, yet I decided not to go on the tour of The Capitol kindly arranged by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come?” Elizabeth kept asking. “There is plenty of time you know”
“I know, but I don’t feel like it,” I said, as we walked away from The Capitol towards Rayburn.
“But what will you do all that time? Our first appointment is not going to be for another two and a half hours,” she reminded me.
“I’ll sit in the cafeteria, have a cup of coffee, go through the papers and prepare my part of the presentation.”
Elizabeth had a cup of tea, sat with me for a while, then left to join the small group meeting in Nancy Pelosi’s office.
I got myself a cup of coffee, a huge apple fritter, settled down to study my brief and before I knew it, it was eleven-forty. I had enough time to go to the bathroom before making my way to the Congresswoman’s office…
See you tomorrow