Morguie Chats With C J : What Does It All Mean?
Death knows no holiday, the old saying goes, but tonight it managed to take a few hours off…and so on this late evening, C J finds herself downstairs in the old mortuary, scrubbing away her anger and outrage…the day’s news is just too much to bear. The mouse cannot sleep, either. Of course, he’s a comfort to C J in times of worry and upset. He pops through the opening in the baseboard, and skitters out onto the tiled floor, where C J has pulled away the prep-room tables and is applying great pressure to the scrub-brush over the ceramic and grout…
Morguie: “Hey…you are going to scrub the color right off of that tile if you keep going, you know…”
C J: “Yeah, I guess so…I know, let’s take a break…”
She and the mouse went outside, and sat on the steps. C J took out a cigarette, lit it, and looked up at the blackness of the heavens. A sliver of the moon barely visible amongst the passing clouds, she noted an autumn chill in the night air. It was definitely October.
Morguie: “C J? Why is the government messing with people? Like the dead soldiers’ families?”
C J: “ Mouse, if I knew the real reason I sure as hell wouldn’t be down here scrubbing an already cleaned floor…”
Morguie: “I heard that the President and Congress weren’t going to pay those families of the troops killed in action their death benefits…is that really true?”
C J: “Yes, Mouse, I am afraid it is true.”
Morguie: “Well, gosh, how much IS a death benefit if you are killed in action?”
C J: “It’s only $100,000.00 Mouse.”
Morguie’s eyes widened…that would buy a LOT of crackers…”Wow! That’s A LOT!”
C J’s face darkened. She stopped before she could unleash her true wrath upon the rodent. He was, after all, just an animal. He couldn’t possibly know what $100,000.00 meant in this situation. So she took in a long draw off the cigarette and crushed it out, while mentally putting together what she wanted to tell the mouse about the money…
C J: “Morguie? The benefits include $100,000 to each family; a 12-month basic allowance for housing, usually given in a lump sum to survivors commensurate with the rank of the service member; and burial benefits.
Let me see if I can say it in an even more understandable way for you, Mouse. Let’s say that there is a family named Jones. Mr. Jones is actually an Army Sgt. He has a wife and two little kids and one on the way. Sgt. Jones is sent overseas to fight the war in Afghanistan and has to leave Mrs. Jones and the kids over here. “
Morguie: “Wow. That must be really hard for them to be without their dad…and Mrs. Jones is going to have a baby? Yikes!”
C J: “Well, Mousie, this is just a story…I made up the Jones family here…”
Morguie: “I know. But, I think I get it, kind of…that this government thing is happening to real people in real families just like them…”
C J: “ But Mouse, you said a few minutes ago about what a bunch of money you thought that ‘death benefit’ was…I want to just say this: Let’s say Sgt. Jones is on a combat mission and is killed in action. The U.S. government sends his family what basically amounts to a life insurance policy settlement. It’s something…
$100,000.00 is NOTHING when you realize that Sgt. Jones will never be able to walk through the door of his home and into his loving family’s arms again;
it’s NOTHING when you realize that Sgt. Jones’ unborn baby will never know him;
it’s NOTHING when you realize Sgt. Jones’ children will have to grow up, learn to drive, walk down the aisle, or have their own children WITHOUT HIM to share those special moments in life with them;
And that money could never hold his wife close, dry her tears, or tell her that everything will work out fine…”
Morguie: “So, what’s it all about?”
C J: “It is supposed to be aid to our precious fallen soldiers’ families, to help them with the everyday, all-the-time life-still-goes-on worries…so that they may take the time they need to grieve their irreplaceable, priceless, precious loved one…one who stood up to defend ALL OF US, and gave up his own life in doing so. “
Morguie: “You’re right. $100,000.00 is nothing at all.”
©2013, C.S. Thompson.