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Fri, Jan. 13th, 2006, 06:23 pm
potus_malloy: Gratitude

OOC: And the last part is done, following the first post and the interlude. Anything I said in the other entries applies. I procrastinated on working on this one, that's why it's so late. Anyway, hope to talk to all of you soon.

In the motorcade on the way to the National Cathedral, Ben is quiet. He keeps Evelyn’s hand in his as he stares out into the darkness of the District. Almost midnight. The cars ahead and behind him are not only filled with the Secret Service, but also with members of his staff who look more awake than he feels. Must be the coffee, because he’s fairly certain they aren’t getting much more sleep than he is.

December has been a month beyond busy; he doesn’t have high hopes for January.

The limousine moves smoothly through the streets and they’re at the cathedral before long. Washington National Cathedral’s offer of an interfaith service appealed to the President, in that he could share it with various friends, colleagues, and supporters. Malloy opened up this midnight service to any and all White House staff who wished to attend. There would be a few Senators and members of Congress, and the Mayor of D.C. eagerly accepted an invitation. He’d handwritten a note to St. Matthew’s, thanking them for their kind invitation but that he would be unable to accept their offer. Instead, the President invited the Monsignor to the White House and let his secretary wrestle with the details.

He’ll wind up at St. Matthew’s again, even if it isn’t until the Red Mass in the fall. He can’t worry about whether he’s offended the Catholics for not accepting an invitation he in no way solicited. There may be a separation between church and state, he thinks wryly as the motorcade pulls up to the cathedral, but they both have their politics just the same.

He steps from the car, closing his coat against the cold, and holds out his hand to assist Eve from the limo as well. Then they’re moving inside under the direction of agents. Stepping inside the National Cathedral, one is overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. It seems even larger now with such a small group of people in comparison. The President stops to greet a few people before moving on to the front pew.

A brief genuflection, the Sign of the Cross… Ben is beginning to think that this wasn’t such a good idea. It’s a lot easier to analyze your shaky relationship with organized religion – let alone God! – when it isn’t right in front of your face. He sits back against the hard wood of the bench and only relaxes because his wife is next to him and there’s music, a choir singing beautifully. He looks around at familiar faces, lets his eyes rest on an unfamiliar altar.

You wanted this, Ben, he reminds himself. You wanted to be here, even if you weren’t quite sure why.

He still isn’t sure, but he’s got a few good ideas. Besides the compulsion derived from years of going to church as a boy, besides the fact that it makes for good press coverage… it’s humbling. He feels humbled by both Cathedrals and the honor they’ve shown him and by the respect and consideration of his staff, by helping him not only with the plans for this evening but also throughout the year.

He turns to Evelyn and smiles.

And for now, he forgets all about whether or not he should be here, whether or not he’s doing all he can for the country, for his family, for his staff. For now, he lets the music and the incense and the holiday season wash over him, and he's grateful.

Tue, Jan. 17th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)

Kate sits quietly in the car, looking out the window. She feels fully awake and aware for the first time in several days, but she remains reserved as the motorcade moves through the city. Staring out the window she feels tired inside, regardless of her rested body. Her father's recent illness has taken its toll on her, and she holds a fear of losing him buried deep in her stomach. She looks forward to the service, however, hoping it will help her build the strength she needs for the coming months.

The motorcade stops and a secret service agent opens Kate's door. She steps out and follows the president inside, marveling at the beautiful cathedral. As they are led to their seats she glances around and feels comforted by the familiar surroundings, though she's never been there before. Stained glass and polished stone and a choir singing a familiar song. Kate would not, by most, be considered a religious woman, she has always prefered to keep that part of herself private. But the service, even though it is interfaith, fills her with a relief she can barely handle and she can feel her chest tighten with a sob she'll hold in until she's home.

She looks toward the president, seated in the pew in front of her, and sees him relax for the first time in probably weeks. She marvels at where she is as she kneels for a particular prayer, though she is not requiered to do so. She marvels at what she's gained and who she works for, and as she places her forehead down into her folded hands, she smiles and feels a hot tear escape her eyes, but brushes it away before anyone sees.

Though no one but Kate will ever know it, God has again pulled her up and given her the strength to move ahead.