I just watched the state funeral of President Gerald Ford on the television. All throughout I was (sorry to say) bored. A bit sad, but I wasnâ€™t exactly conscious when he was president so I never really formed much of an opinion.
I listened to the speakers praising him. I watched the three wreaths being placed. I got ready to change the channel when Mrs. Ford stood up and was walked forward â€“ first by Cheney, then by her son (I think).Â She was so frail, and blindly moving where they told her. The day must have been utterly exhausting. Just two steps up to stand near the casket and then she was reaching out, placing her hands on one corner. She bowed her head as if praying, or breaking down, the weight of it all suddenly too much to bear, just then. The studied, controlled face of a long-time politicianâ€™s wife finally broke. Just for a minute. But it was enough. Because when her hands reached out, I was stricken by grief. And I wept. (Bawled like a woman in emotional pain, to tell the truth). I was struck, literally, by how much she loved him. She will miss him deeply. He was her friend, her confidant. They went through hell together and loved one another all throughout.
The sound of the cameras clicking was a horror. A thousand beetles crawling across a marble floor. Each one preserving her moment of transcendent grief for all time.
I didnâ€™t know the man, but I recognize his wifeâ€™s pain.
Thank you for sharing him with us, Mrs. Ford.