G is for Gratitude
George’s mother had a favorite Scripture verse: “A thankful heart has a continual feast.” George wonders sometimes if it took her as long as it has taken him to understand what that means. He had his moments as a younger man, of course, appreciating a hot shower, the richness of homemade cake and good beer, the elegant curves of a woman’s body. He supposes that feeling could be called thankfulness.
But it’s taken years for him to discover that his mother was talking about something much deeper.
That sank in during the first year of the program. SG-1 dialed in from P3X-866, and instead of his three grief-stricken soldiers, four laughing, joking, living people strolled out of the event horizon.
Doctor Jackson looked worn out, but he smiled at the spontaneous applause that erupted from the men on duty in the ‘Gate room. Carter was beaming, Teal’c . . . nearly so.
Colonel O’Neill looked like the world’s weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
General George Hammond, commander of the base, leader of these people, couldn’t even move for a few seconds. He’d seen too many people fail to return; though he had allowed them to return to the planet, he hadn’t expected a retrieval. Whether brought about by God or simply by the bravery of his men, it seemed that miracles were becoming a fact of life.
He decided to factor them in from now on.
Commanding the SGC is just another post, at first. Watching the world change around him on a daily basis makes the small joys of daily routine that much sweeter. Bitter base coffee, sunshine at the entrance to the mountain, the laughter of his granddaughters, the respect of his teams–everything seems painted in more vivid colors than he’s ever experienced.
Such awareness makes the losses that much sharper.
“There’s truly nothing more you can do?” He knew it was unfair to ask, to make Janet Fraiser repeat the news that had her shoulders drawn tight with frustration.
“Nothing, sir.” She cleared her throat. Met his gaze. “Major Carter still wants to try the Goa’uld healing device, but I’m skeptical. Daniel...his body...he just doesn’t have the strength.”
George had seen radiation poisoning once before in his life, and he had never wanted to see it again. Doesn’t have the strength meant that Doctor Jackson was coming apart at the seams. “Let her try,” he said.
Janet nodded. They’d seen too many unexpected reversals in this place to rule anything out. George put a hand on her shoulder. “Is there anything I can do?”
She swallowed hard, closed her eyes for a moment. When she looked at him again, the moment had passed. “Keep the Colonel from doing anything stupid?” she suggested, and managed a lopsided smile.
“I’ll do my best,” he promised.
George has always been a practical man. But he defies anyone to see what he has seen and not find themselves in a constant state of wonder. It has to be put aside, to deal with threats to his base or his people or his planet, but once the crisis passes he finds himself marveling at nanites, at blended personalities, at life that remains healthy only as long as they can sing the right melodies.
He read Issac Asimov’s stories when he was at the Academy. The reality is much more awe-inspiring.
He never would have left that wonder willingly. It took orders from the President to pull George Hammond out of the SGC. On the flight to Washington he wondered if it was time for the grandfather to win out over the explorer, for his family of blood to finally trump that of rank and responsibility.
He was given one more active assignment, truly on the front lines of Earth’s defenses. It could have been a last stand, a truly final moment. Instead he got a literal blaze of glory: those astonishing glowing jellyfish wiping Anubis from the sky.
“That was SG-1!” It was a proclamation, and a tribute, and for all he knew then, a farewell to Jack O’Neill. And to all those moments of wonder and awe and exultation.
Turns out it was less easy to let go than he thought.
Normalcy won out in the end. His life is made up now of sunlight on his head and hands, warm garden earth between his fingers, books by the fire at night and dinner with his children and grandchildren.
He’s not out of the loop entirely. Thanks to Jack (who visits more often than he should and doles out information with far too free a hand), George knows that the war for Earth is far from over. That it may be moving from orbital bombing to the battleground of the soul.
It’s been a long time since George Hammond prayed at length. Anything more than a quick request for aid or guidance took up time he needed to process information and make decisions. Now he has plenty of time, as he gardens, makes breakfast, stares up at the stars at night. He prays for many things: for the protection of his family (both blood and rank), for clarity of mind in those fighting this war, for the destruction of these new false gods.
However the prayer begins, the ending is always the same: Thank You.