Title: More Than a Name on The Wall
Author: Madame President
Disclaimers: I don't own the characters, and the lyrics are from the song "More
Than a Name on a Wall" by the Statler Brothers, although I have altered them
very slightly.
Feedback: I would love to hear what you think, especially because this is my
first attempt at a songfic.
Spoilers: Anything through 2C.
Summary: Toby reflects on a special afternoon he spent with Mrs. Landingham.

More Than a Name on The Wall

He stood a few feet from the grave, close enough to peer in as the coffin was
lowered to it's resting place six feet below the soft spring dirt. It had been
several minutes since the last person drifted away, back into the world of the
living. There were meetings to attend, press conferences to prepare for. Yet,
he stood there, immobile and unwilling to leave.
The loud clang of the crane as it began its ascent back to the surface caused
him to think of the last time that he had been in a cemetery. Ironically, it
had been with her. The memory flooded back as tears began to flood his eyes.
She had sat so silently, only moving as her body tensed to each report sounded
from the guns of the guard. The man being buried that time had meant nothing to
her other than the chance to say goodbye to her sons through the son of a mother
she did not know.
After the veteran had been buried and his brother returned to his place under
the overpass, he had asked her if she was ready to go back to the White House.
She responded that there was one more place she needed to visit, so he drove
her.
As they walked along the cold, snow-covered path, he wondered what they
were doing here. From behind the hill emerged the reflective black marble
monument, a silent reminder of a war that many despised, and many died for. She
led him without speaking to a panel on the wall, labeled 1970. She stopped and
knelt down. He offered her his arm, and she gladly accepted it. Rubbing the
cold stone, she wiped away the snow that had accumulated.

I followed her the distance
As she walked up to The Wall
With her hand she touched the marble
As the tears began to fall

Watching her intently, he finally noticed what lay beneath her hand.
There were two names: Andrew and Simon Landingham.
He mumbled an apology for not knowing, and she assured him that there was no
need to apologize. It was something she didn't discuss often. As far as she
knew, aside from the President, Leo, and Charlie whom she had told a few days
before when he inquired about her mood, no one else in the West Wing knew
anything about her private sorrow. She told him that every year at Christmas
she returned to The Wall. She reached into her pocket and pulled something out.
He watched her place the tissue paper over the section of the panel that
contained her sons' names. Lovingly she ran the charcoal over the paper, being
sure not to tear it or get it too wet. Slowly the names emerged, light at
first, and then becoming a darker shade of black. As she completed her task,
she talked to him, telling him that this was her special time with her boys now.
When she was finished she folded the paper with the same care that she had used
to trace their names, and put it back in her pocket.

She took out pen and paper
As to trace her memories
She looked up to Heaven,
And the words she said were these.

As she spoke he found slow tears rolling down his face. It was cold
out. There was a northeasterly wind off the Chesapeake. The tears threatened
to freeze, and he brushed them away, ashamed to have the older woman see him
cry. Her words cut through him, causing more tears to fall, faster and faster.
She was so sincere in her discussion with her God above. He found himself
almost believing that her prayers would be answered.

She said, "Lord, my boys were special,
And they meant so much to me.
And though I'd love to seem them
Just one more time, you see,
All I have are the memories and the moments to recall.
So, Lord could you tell them,
They're more than two names on a wall."

The older woman stood up with his assistance, and backed away slightly from The
Wall. She looked up at him, fresh tears in her eyes. She noticed the tears in
his, and with her slight frame pulled him to her, slipping her arm through his.
She told him about her boys, twins. She told him about trying to dress them
differently and involving them in different things, but they always wanted to be
the same, going to the same school, and majoring in the same thing. She told
him how their draft numbers had come up at the same time, and how although they
could have taken deferments, they chose to become medics, going where they were
needed.

She said, "They really missed the family,
Being so far away.
And they died for God and country,
In the war on Christmas Day.
I remember just two little boys,
Playing war when they were three.
Lord, this time I know,
They're not coming home to me."

She described how hard it had been to see the military chaplain come up on to
her front porch and knock that cold December day. She said her husband, Henry,
had tried to comfort her, but the thought of her boys in pain and needing their
mother overshadowed everything. She hadn't been there to comfort them, to tell
them it would be all right, to tell them that she loved them. They would never
know how much they had meant to her. Looking deep into his eyes she tried to
explain why they were here now.
She told him that here she felt close to them. She could talk to them,
and tell them that she loved them. She just hoped that they heard her. He said
he was certain they did. As if to make sure, she stepped forward and placed her
hand on the cold marble once again.

She said, "Lord, my boys were special,
And they meant so much to me.
And though I'd love to seem them,
But I know that just can't be.
So, I thank you for my memories,
And the moments to recall.
But, Lord, could you tell them,
They're more than two names on a wall."

He gently placed his hand on her shoulder and reminded her that they needed to
get back. She nodded in response and stepped away. Reaching once more into her
pocket she produced two small photographs and placed them in the area between
The Wall and its sidewalk. Two identical smiling faces stared back at the older
woman and her friend. He reached out and took her arm, leading her back to the
car, slowly and reverently. As they reached the car she turned once more,
uttering a final plea to Heaven.

"Lord, could you tell them, they're more than two names on a wall."

His mind returned to the present and his friend's grave. They had begun to
fill it in, and a light rain was starting to fall. He needed to get back to the
office. He had a meeting that he didn't understand, and a future he was unsure
about. So many things were puzzling to him, but he knew one thing for certain.
She was with her boys and could finally tell them that they were more than just
names to her. He looked at the stone that had been placed when her husband died
a few years before. Her name had been etched, leaving only the date to be
added. He lifted his eyes to the sky and spoke, hoping that whomever or
whatever was listening could hear him.
"You're more than a name, too, Delores," he whispered before turning his back
and walking away.

THE END

 

 

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