Troy's funeral was held in Madrid on Saturday, January 5th.
There were Fire and Rescue trucks parked outside in his honor. The same ones that were at his house the night he died.
We (the family) got there early to look at everything and get comfortable. Since he was cremated there was no body so we had a display set up with his artwork, his fireman's gear and (of course) Gary and Mary the snails were there. He had hand carved the Madrid fire department crest and that was sitting outside the church on the front steps. I had never seen it before and was struck once again at what a great artist he is (was). I was always annoyed with him that he didn't do more with his art so I especially enjoyed seeing some of his pieces on display.
There was also a TV set up playing the DVD that the funeral home had made from the pictures we gave them. The kids picked out the songs to go on it as well: Sweet Child O Mine (GNR), Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash), Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond) and one other that I don't know. For the music before and after the service we had Metallica's Unforgiven II and Freebird....and if those songs seem random, well you didn't know my brother.
It was a cold day but Toni and I stood outside while most of the people came in. Since we didn't live in Madrid most of the people had never seen or met us so there were lots of "Those are the sisters..." whispered as the crowd walked by us. Troy's best friend Mike was standing outside with us. It was very comforting to have him there. He has vowed to be our stand in brother for the rest of our lives. Anything we would want or need Troy to be a part of, Mike will be there in his place. He was so angry though. He is one of the people who I hope the most can let go of the hurt and anger and let him move on. In time...
Troy had just become certified as a Fireman in December. He was so proud and excited. When I was home and we had our hang out night at his house the second thing he showed me (the first being the picture of his polyp) was his certification. It meant so much to him and he was so proud. He was also in the National Guard so there was the military presence as well as the firemen.
My mom and stepdad sat with Debbie and the kids and across the pew I sat between Toni and Cory. My dad and stepmom sat behind us.
I must admit that we got a bit giddy at one point while people were filing in and we were seated. I remember breaking into a fit of giggles and Toni and I wondering if it was possible to get kicked out of your own brother's funeral for inappropriate behavior. We never found out -although I can confirm that it is OK to headbang to Metallica at your brother's funeral ...in case anyone ever needs that bit of info.
The sermon began and it was nice. Carla had mentioned some of the stories we had given her (the polyp, Gary the snail, Troys thing for wearing Santa hats...). The fireman were very impressive looking in their dress uniforms and they sat right in front of us. Debbie was given a folded flag from the National Guardsmen which was cool and I think Troy would have dug.
Then, it was time for last call. For those of you who have never had Emergency Worker's in your life- all emergency workers have pagers that go off and will explain what event is happening where and who is being called out and who is responding to the emergency. As a show of deep honor and respect there is a last call sent out over the pagers for the fallen.
Troy's gear was sitting right in front of me- his coat, boots and radio...all ready to go for him to jump into and race off to whatever emergency needed him.
The sermon ended and Carla announced it was time for Troy's last call. There were dozens of radios on in the room and they all beeped at once and the voice over the airways announced that this was the last call for fallen Fireman Troy Herrick....every radio, including the one clipped to my brother's firecoat.
If there is one moment that I look back on and hold onto it is that moment. It was the single worst moment of my life, those words, that last call was a red hot knife being plunged into my soul, and yet I was so fucking proud of him all in the same few seconds. For some reason I hadn't even thought about his radio being on and when I saw the red light on his radio light up and heard his last call on his own radio it destroyed me. Any emotions I had been holding back, any thoughts of "I can get through this OK" were gone. In that single moment it was more true that ever that Troy was dead and this was goodbye. This was Last Call for him.
After the service there was a lunch downstairs. It was your typical church basement buffet. I saw so many people who offered their sympathies. My sisters friend Diane, Troy's friend Eric and his wife Shelly, some relatives who knew me but I had never met and my friends. Julie, Kim and Missy had come and got me the night before and we went out for dinner and drinks at that Mexican place. They are my oldest and dearest friends and I will never be able to thank them or tell them how much it meant to me that they were there. Missy, who is also fireman, wore her dress uniform and that just meant the world to me and was oddly important. I guess it was because I knew she understood what that meant on a whole other level. It was important to me that they were there and they were, as they always have been and I know always will be. Thank you guys, I love you more than you know.
People began to leave and we went upstairs to sort out the flowers. My office had sent some very pretty flowers which was very nice considering again I had only worked there a few days at this point (have been there over a year now- in no small part because of the kindness and patience they showed me these few days and the weeks to follow). I gave those flowers to my Grandma which she liked. I took a single rose...hard to pack anything else.
After the funeral we went home and changed. Then we did what any other family does after they had a funeral for their brother...we went out and got tattoo's.
If you have seen my myspace pics then you have seen the pics of this day. My brother had designed his own tat and had it on his arm. It was his initials in a circle and he did it in all red so it looked like his arm was branded. Toni and Holli got his design tattooed on their wrists- Holli added "daddy" under hers and Toni added "brother" under hers. I changed mine up just a bit- I made the circle part of mine into a "C" - for Cory and had it colored in purple which is Toni and I's favorite color. So mine represents all my siblings. My cousin Wendi also got his TH symbol as did his friend Dennis. Mike got a gargoyle sitting on top of a stone TH- his first tattoo at age 43. Gary and Mary the snail also got tat's and Mary got pierced (I am so not kidding).
We went back to the hotel and there were a ton of people there but by now I was so drained all I wanted to do was sleep so I went back to my Dad's and passed out.
My brother wasn't perfect, he was no saint and there was so much he wanted to do with his life but he gave me a great niece and nephew and a lifetime of memories.
This is the Last Call for my brother...Troy Harold Herrick.
Rest in peace bro, loveyoubye.