After arriving at the funeral home, Katherine Cathey pressed her pregnant belly to her husband’s casket, moaning softly. Two days after she was notified of Jim’s death in Iraq, she found out they would have a boy. Born on December 23, 2005, he was named James Jeffrey Cathey, Jr.
Since James Cathey was killed in a massive explosion, his body was delicately wrapped in a shroud by military morticians, then his Marine uniform was laid atop his body. Since Katherine Cathey decided not to view her husband’s body, Maj. Steve Beck took her hand, and pressed it down on the uniform. “He’s here,” he said quietly. “Feel right here.”
The night before the burial of her husband’s body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of ‘Cat,’ and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. “I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,” she said. “I think that’s what he would have wanted.”
The 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography went to Todd Heisler and The Rocky Mountain News for this photographic series.
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