Every door is different. Some are ornately hand-carved hardwood, some are hollow tin. Some are protected by elaborate security systems, some by flapping screens. The doors are all that stand between a family and the message.
For Major Steve Beck, it starts with a knock or a ring of the doorbell—a simple act, really, with the power to shatter a soul.
Five years ago, the then 40-year-old Marine officer was catapulted into a duty he never trained for, an assignment that starts with a long walk to a stranger's porch and an outstretched hand sheathed in a soft white glove.
While every door is different, the scenes inside are almost always the same. "The curtains pull away. They come to the door. And they know. They always know," Beck says. "You can almost see the blood run out of their body and their heart hit the floor. It's not the blood as much as their soul. Something sinks. I've never seen that except when someone dies. And I've seen a lot of death.
"They're falling—either literally or figuratively—and you have to catch them. In this business, I can't save his life. All I can do is catch the family while they're falling."