I was there, when my best friend, my light and my anchor was crying, holding a folded flag in his tiny hands, his eyes weren't watering. He didn’t shed one single tear, but I knew he was crying inside with his heart tearing apart. But he just clamped his teeth shut, jaw hardening.
Six year old me can only hold on tighter into my mom’s hand and tried my best, tried very hard, to be strong for the boy in front of me.
He never cried. Not even when I pushed him into a tree, accidentally tore open his knee. Not even when I stole his favorite toy and lost it in the garden outside his house. He never got mad too, no matter what I do. Only stare at me for a moment, then sighed heavily, shaking his head.
He was mature, it wasn't normal for a kid. Thinking like an adult. Unlike me, the reckless baby in the house.
I tripped, I cried.
A single hair out of line, I cried.
My dress was stained, I cried.
Crying was common occurence for me but when I don't see him for a day, I wailed like a banshee. I will scream my heart out until finally my mom give up and called his baby sitter to drop by our house.
But now, seeing him so broken, so hurt that he couldn’t even hold his tears, even a child like me knew how deeply wounded he was. Why wouldn’t he? He didn’t have a father anymore, he was completely alone now.
Who would be there for him?
Who would be his hero?
My mom pulled me to her side, to comfort me. But I didn’t want to be comforted, even though my heart was breaking into pieces, I wanted to stand tall and proud. Like that little boy in front me. Like Jace.
I wanted to be his strength.
So I pushed her hand away, because it was not fair for him to be alone while I am snuggling away with my mother, a mother he didn’t even have.
I have to be strong, for the both of us.
He clenched the flag tighter and stood proud, like a rock in a storm. Too strong for a six year old. He should've cry, but I knew he won’t. He was just that strong and brave.
He didn't dare to let any weakness show. To dissapoint anyone. He won't dare dissapoint us but that little fact hurts too.
The officer in front of him whispered something to him, but he just tightened his jaw harder and nodded stiffly, sniffling. The officer stood up and gave another speech, putting his arms around Jace's small body.
“Today, we buried another comrade, not because he died in weakness on a losing side. No, but because he sacrificed himself, for his team. And because of this young man’s father,” the officer squeezed Jace’s shoulder in support, “He prevented ten people from dying and leaving their family.
“To Alexander Mason. Our hero.”
That day I promised, I will be there for him, no matter what. I will stand by him. To be his shoulder to cry on, to be his shield, to be his protector, anything that he wanted me to be. I will be there for him, every run his little legs may made.
Our eyes met from across the green field. The weather was too sunny but the air was full of sorrow.
He mouthed something, "Will you promise me?"