The New Faces

I’ll just lay it out there – May is a really tough month.

If you’ve lost a police officer whom you loved in the the line of duty, you know what I mean.  For me, May used to be a good time of celebrating Mother’s Day and the anniversary of the day my husband and I got married.  That all changed in 2016.  My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2016.   Mother’s Day 2016 is the last time I spent significant time with Davey because the next day I got on a plane to Pennsylvania.  My father-in-law had just passed away and I flew out to join my husband for the funeral.  We got back to Phoenix 5 days before Davey was killed.  This picture is the inside of my last Mother’s card from Davey and is now framed on my dresser.

My husband and I had been married for 35 years on May 23, 2016.  Obviously, it was barely mentioned four days after Davey died.

Now May is a month of remembering the son we loved so much and all of the others that have fallen.  It’s a month of commemorating their courage and sacrifice.  It’s a painful month of inevitable tears as we grieve for all that is lost.

This all adds up to a May that is filled with a difficult ride on a rollercoaster of emotions.

I never even heard of Police Week until Davey was killed.  Now its one of the most important weeks of May with many activities surrounding the Peace Officers Memorial Service on the lawn of the capitol building on May 15.  Two years ago my husband and I along with my daughter-in-law, Davey’s two little children and Davey’s squad attended Police Week in Washington as first year survivors.  Some of that week is blur to me.  It was painful and it highlighted all we have lost but it also good and right to honor and remember Davey together.

There it is – the bittersweet of all the memorials we attend.  It hurts but it’s good.  It’s right.

My husband and I are planning to go back to Washington, DC next year to see the museum that has opened up and participate as past year survivors.  I’m expecting that it will be a little easier next time.  I’ve gotten more used to the hole.  It’s interesting to me that the topic of whether or not we are going to the next Police Week is a regular source of discussion among those of us who have lost an officer.  It’s another thing we all share.

May is also the month of local peace officer memorials here in Phoenix.  We attended the Arizona State Peace Officers Memorial this past week – the third one since Davey died.  And I was painfully aware of the new faces.  Three new families joined our group in 2018 because we lost an officer who was their husband, their son, their dad, their brother.

A piece of my broken heart breaks again for them.  I wish that nobody else had to have their worlds blown apart like we did.  I wish they did not have to go through the struggle and grief that we have gone through….that we are still going through.  Tears roll down my face as I think about the fact that they have just started down this very difficult road that has no end here on earth.

Like us, they will drag their broken dreams to these memorials every year – experiencing the good and the bad of remembering.

Please bless these new faces, Father God.  Give them peace.  Give them strength for this long, hard journey.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

The Hole

When my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, he left a big hole.

A bomb went off in the lives of everyone who loved him.

A bomb went off in the lives of his brothers and sisters in blue because another one of them was lost.

These bombs shattered parts of our world, parts that we will never get back.  There are important pieces missing.  There are places in our lives that are broken and can never be fixed.

There is a hole that will never go away.

In fact, that hole is growing.  The list of things that Davey is missing is getting longer.  The empty places where he should be in our lives are more and more evident.

The amount of things we lost when he was killed increases each day, each month, each year.

And it is very painful.

If you have been reading this blog, you know that I’ve said several times that the grief doesn’t fade, it doesn’t heal, it doesn’t grow less.  Don’t tell me time heals all wounds, its not true.

I’m just getting used to the fact that I have to live with this growing hole in my life.

As we approach the third anniversary of Davey’s death, the pain of the permanence of this situation can be overwhelming.  The Fallen Officer memorials that fill our calendars this time of year are bitter-sweet as we hear Davey’s name read again along with all of the other fallen officers in our city.  The fact that the anniversary of his death is right after Peace Officer Memorial Day on May 15 causes me to have several weeks of rollercoastering emotions.

The reality that I’m going to have to live the rest of my life on this earth without him makes tears stream down my face and haunts my nights.  It feels so wrong.

And the hole keeps growing.  We have birthdays, Christmas’ and new little members of our family……but Davey’s not here.

He will never be here again.  It really hurts when I focus on the hole.

So, once again, I turn my focus onto what I had before he was killed and I am very grateful to God for 34 awesome years with Davey.  And I turn my focus onto what I have now and I am very grateful to God for all the blessings he is showering on me today.

But I will always miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

He Woke Me Up

Easter is here – one of my favorite holidays!

And one of my favorite memories of Easter was when a small 5 year-old boy decided he wanted to go to the sunrise service his church was having.for the first time.  He REALLY wanted to go.  He bugged his mom until she said, “Okay, but we will only go if you get yourself up and dressed and come wake us up.”

And he did!

Imagine my surprise!  Yes, that little boy was my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.

On Easter, we celebrate the joy and light Jesus brought into our world when he rose and proved his power over death.  Jesus is our hope.  He was Davey’s hope and Davey knew that when he was 5 years-old.  He was excited about celebrating Easter and he wanted to do it outside watching the sun come up.

My daughter was just 6 months old at that time so I was not excited about getting up at 5 am unless I had to.  But Davey would not be talked or bribed out of it.  So I gave him an alarm clock and we set it the night before.  I showed him how to turn the alarm off, expecting that when the alarm went off and he saw how dark it was, he would just turn over and go back to sleep until it was time to get up for the normal church service.

Imagine my surprise the next morning when a little hand reached over the side of my bed in the dark and shook my arm.  There he was – all ready and smiling and excited about going to the sunrise service!  So my husband and I struggled out of bed and pulled on warm clothes.  I had to wake up the baby which is something I hated to do but a deal is a deal.

Davey got more and more excited as we drove to the park where the service was being held.  We dragged blankets and baby gear up the side of one hill and settled into our spot just as the sun started peaking over another hill in front of us and the music started.

It was an awesome service and we were hooked.  We went to sunrise service every year after that – we never missed it.

I realized something else that day – Davey could use an alarm clock, get up and get himself ready.  So, that’s what he started doing Monday through Friday.  It was great!  I’m not aware of very many 5 year-olds who get themselves up and walk out of their rooms in the morning dressed and ready for school but that’s what he did.

So today I celebrate the resurrection of my Savior.  And today I celebrate this precious memory of a special little boy who became an awesome young man.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Don’t Get Stuck

That’s one of my main goals.  Don’t get stuck.

I have to figure out how to move forward – even when I don’t want to.

It’s not easy.  My world shattered when my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  Each day that followed was empty and the pain intensified each night. My mind wanted to focus on all of my broken dreams. The future I had expected was filled with fun and great times that were never going to happen.  What I had lost created a huge hole in every hour of every day.

And I wanted to stay there.  That felt like the place I was supposed to be…..

Until I looked at my little grand darlings, Davey’s son and daughter.  They have their whole lives to live and their lives cannot be all about what they have lost.  Their future is bright and full of possibilities and I need to be a positive, encouraging part of that future.

I also looked at the rest of my family.  We have all been left behind on this earth to accomplish what God has planned for us.  We have a purpose.  We’re not supposed to get lost in the dark places on this road and live there the rest of our short time on this planet.

So it became one of my goals – don’t get stuck.

It’s not easy, moving forward.  As the list of things Davey is missing grows, so does the sadness of not having him here.  As the years go by I lose more and more parts of him and it hurts.  There are days when I don’t want to go forward because it’s just too much of a struggle.

But it’s worth it.  I have met many people on this tough journey whose worlds have been blown apart by a tragedy…. and they are still living in that tragedy every day.  They are stuck.  They are angry and bitter and negative.  Honestly, they just are no fun to be around.  They have traded the good things of today for the pain of yesterday.  They have refused to rebuild their dreams for the future and they are mired down in the dark times of the past.

I know that getting stuck and living like that would be easy to do.  But I’m refusing to go there.  I have found that it really helps me to focus my mind on all the good things I had and all the good things I still have.  When my thoughts start to dwell on all of the good things I have lost, I have to stop myself.  None of that thinking is helpful.  That is the slippery slope that slides into the muck where people get stuck.

Being a part of the David Glasser Foundation has also helped me move forward.  Honoring Davey’s legacy and doing positive things in his name really helps the future look brighter.  There is still a lot of work to be done.  Not everyone wants to start a foundation, but I have suggested to other people who have experienced a huge loss to think about possible ways they could honor the memory of the person they lost and create a positive future.  College scholarships are a great option to remember someone who loved education and help someone else reach their educational goals.  Sports scholarships are also great to remember someone who loved sports and give other kids a chance at reaching their dreams.  One of my favorite things about the David Glasser Foundation Basketball league we had this past spring was the fact that we were able to give 10 scholarships to kids that would normally have not been able to be a part of league because of the registration costs.  Positive things like that can change the trajectory of the life of a child – especially if they live in a high-crime area.

Rebuilding a positive future.  That’s the goal.  That’s the struggle.

And it’s worth it.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

His Final Words

I was painfully reminded recently about how quickly our lives could end.  Another police officer in Phoenix, Paul Rutherford, was killed doing his job.  He was doing what he’s done many, many times before.  But this time, his life ended.

My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police officer who was killed almost 3 years ago.  He was doing his job just like he had done every day for 12 years.  But on May 18, 2016, his life ended.

The worst happened.

Those of us who were left behind will never be the same.  Our worlds blew up and the emotional fall-out continues.  Following Officer Rutherford’s death, I was reminded of all the pain as I looked into the hurting eyes of the ‘framily’ that is taking this tough journey with me.  Tears and an unforgettable hole.

It’s a struggle.  Some of my steps moving forward really hurt.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that the last thing Davey said to everyone that he cared about was “love you”.  He even said it to his squad members and waited until they said it back.  It has been such a blessing for us to have that last ‘love you’ echoing through our heads as we deal with the grief and loss of Davey’s death.

If you have been reading this blog, you also know that one of the things I wish Davey had done was write me a letter.  It would be something I could get out to read over and over again on the dark days when I need some encouragement.  Because of this, I have now written letters to everyone who is dear to me in my life and I plan to update them every ten years or so if I stay on this planet for a while longer.

I know Davey loved me.  He and I thought alike so we didn’t have to say a lot to communicate how we felt about each other.  Now, I would really love to have some of that written down in a letter.

So imagine my amazement when I was recently searching through our small document safe that holds our important ‘stuff’ and I found an envelope with Davey’s handwriting on the outside.  In the envelope is a list written in Davey’s handwriting.  The bottom of the page says, “Sunday School 1999.”

He was 18 years-old.

He had written what he thought his life would be like “40 years from now”.  He gave a couple of options of what he wanted as a career and one of them was ‘police officer’.  He described the woman he would marry, how many kids he wanted, and his desire to continue to grow his relationship with God and be active in a church family.

It’s amazing to me that I kept this.  It’s definitely a God-thing. I’m an anti-hoarder so I’m very selective of the things I choose to keep and the number of old things I’m willing to move and store goes down as the years progress.

I shared the list with my husband and Kristen because this is as close to a letter as we’re going to get.

I have discovered that this list encourages me.  It reminds me of Davey and sparks great memories of how his eyes would light up when he talked about his plans and dreams.

He didn’t have 40 more years.  But reading this list makes me so grateful that we took full advantage of the 16 more years he had at the point when he wrote this.  No regrets.  We had 34 awesome years with him here on earth and that’s going to have to be enough until we see him again in heaven.

Thank you for the letter, Davey.

Miss you.

#8144loveyou

Of Course They Did

Last week in this blog you read about the tree we planted a couple of years ago by Davey’s spot in the cemetery.  I mentioned that it was crooked – blown around by the fierce winds out on the edge of the city.

This week I received a call from the Phoenix Police Department asking me if they could straighten the tree.  Officer Paul Rutherford was buried right next to Davey so the tree was going to be in the center of his ceremony at the cemetery.   And the Phoenix PD wanted everything to look great so they wanted to straighten out the tree.

Of course they did!  That’s what they do, isn’t it?  They straighten out accidents on our freeways.  They straighten out situations in our neighborhoods. They help people straighten out their lives.  They are experts at straightening out things.

So, of course, I said yes to letting them straighten Davey’s tree.

And it looks great!

In this picture, Davey’s tree is standing tall and strong in front of Officer Rutherford’s squad as they say their final goodbyes to their brother in blue.  It’s almost like Davey is standing there, honoring his brother as well.  As usual, he’s right in the middle of what’s going on.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

This part of the cemetery is starting to feel like hallowed ground.  There are several fallen officers buried in this same area.  They remind us of the high level sacrifice demanded from Law Enforcement officers.  They remind us of the huge amount of courage it takes to wear the uniform of one of the ‘good guys’ in a culture that no longer respects ‘good guys’.  They remind us to show our love and support for all law enforcement officers as often as we get a chance.

We remember,

we honor,

we will never forget.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Strong Enough

I put the wind chime on his tree this week.

The wind chime was given to us by Donate Life America in memory of David Glasser, my son, a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty May 18, 2016.  He was young and in great health when he was killed and his wish was to be an organ donor.  So my daughter-in-law, Kristen, made sure that happened even though it’s not an emotionally easy thing to do.

Davey loved people.  He proved it by his choices in his life and he again proved it by his choices in death.  Because of his love, several people received life-changing organs and skin which gave them hope and a new tomorrow.  It was a new tomorrow that Davey never had.

If you’ve been following my story, you know that we planted a tree by his spot in the cemetery that first year after he died.  I felt that it was too stark out there and too empty……and way too hot in the summer.  I needed to have something positive and growing there.  Practically, I also needed some shade when I clean his grave markers.

The sad news is that our first tree died.  Wow!  Just tack that on to a long list of disappointments.

The good news is that the replacement tree is doing much better.  It’s a little crooked because the wind has been pushing the young tree around.  I kind of like it that way, it reminds me of how the death of my son has been pushing me around for almost 3 years.  I relate – I feel a little crooked, too.

The tree has been growing stronger.  I’ve been feeding it plant food, trying to get its roots to grow farther down into the sandy soil so it can withstand the dust storms and the rain storms that hit the cemetery with fierce power.

The tree looks like it has grown strong enough to hold the wind chime.  The wind chime itself is very heavy – designed to be outside.  I like how heavy it is – it represents a mixture of huge grief and huge life and huge love that fills my heart when I think of Davey.  The chiming reminds me that there are pieces of Davey still alive in this world and his love for people is still making a difference in many ways.

I think the tree is now strong enough to hold this wind chime and all it represents.

Unlike me.

There are days when I wonder if I have the strength to live these next twenty or thirty years on this planet without Davey.  Too much pain.  Too much loss.  The world has become a darker place…..emptier.  Memories are good – for a while.  But they don’t fill the hole.

Yes, there are days like that.  And I know the answer for me is to turn to God and let him be the foundation I stand on for the rest of my time on this planet.

There are other days when Davey’s spirit and love are very evident – they haven’t disappeared.  These are the days when I’m reminded by his son and his daughter how much fun we had with Davey and that he was such a great dad!  He would be so proud of both of them!   On these days, the memories are enough and its clear that those of us left behind still have a lot to accomplish on this earth.  There is a purpose for this very tough journey.

On these days I feel strong enough.

And the wind chime will be there to remind me every time I visit his spot that his life mattered….and it still matters.

Miss you, Davey

#8144loveyou

 

Yes

My broken heart hurts for the pain the Rutherford family is experiencing and all the struggles yet to come..

My Family Bleeds Blue

The answer is yes.

When I am asked if other law enforcement officers being killed in the line of duty brings it all back, the answer is always yes.  It brings back the horrible shock and loss of May 18, 2016 when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.

The recent line of duty death of State Trooper Tyler Edenhofer has been hard.  He was so young with so much ahead of him.  Such a tragedy.  He was killed very close to my old neighborhood here in Phoenix but, truthfully, all of our neighborhoods are at risk.  We need our Thin Blue Line.

I can’t stop thinking and praying for Trooper Edenhofer’s family and friends.  My broken heart hurts for the pain they are experiencing and the struggles yet to come.  I know they are waking up each morning hoping it was…

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Clean Feet

He was very clever with a quick wit.

I miss that.

I could count on Davey to bring a smile to my face at the most unexpected moments.  His mind instantly thought up humorous quips about what was happening around us.  He was a strategically complex thinker so various details all connected in his brain and came out as extremely funny and on-point comments.

I know you’re wondering what all that has to do with clean feet.

Our family travelled a lot together and one of my favorite trips was our 2 1/2 weeks in Italy after my daughter graduated from college.  We spent 3 days in Venice, 2 days in Florence and then 3 more days in Rome before heading to Naples for a night and then a 5-hour train ride down to Brindisi where we spent a week on the beaches of the Adriatic Sea.

Wow!  We never had a bad meal in Italy.  Great food!  The same could not be said of Italian bathrooms – specifically showers.  Anybody who is larger than average doesn’t fit into their tiny showers.  It’s like they took a teeny corner of the bathroom, attached two small pieces of glass to it and a shower head and called it a shower.  Those of us with broad shoulders could barely turn around in it and forget about reaching down for anything you might drop.  The girls of the family were super-happy when we stayed a night at a Holiday Inn in Naples because they had an American-sized shower – room to shave our legs!  Yeah!

Early in the trip, Davey started talking about the great footwasher he had in his bathroom.  Interesting!  My husband and I were in a room next door to his and Kristen’s and we didn’t have a footwasher in our bathroom.  Davey kept mentioning what a great job it did so I asked if I could see if before we moved on to the next city.

When he gave me one of his sneaky smiles, I knew something was up.  He had hooked me and he was enjoying it.  So I followed him into his bathroom and watched as he wedged his big size 13 foot into the bidet and flushed it.

Yes, the bidet.  If you don’t know what that is, you’ll have to look it up.  We don’t have them in the U.S.

Of course, Davey had a huge grin on his face the whole time he was explaining the many great features of this footwasher and how clean his feet were.

Of course, my husband thought it was an awesome idea so he had to do it, too.

Men!

On the other hand, clean feet are a really nice thing to have when you’re walking all over the cities of Italy.  Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.

Either way, it’s a great memory of a fun time.  I’m so glad we spend a lot of time with him when we could…..because we didn’t know his time was going to be so short.

Miss you, Davey

#8144loveyou

I See It

When you walk up to me…..

I see it in your eyes.

I know what you’re going to say before you say it – you have lost a child.  And you know enough of my story to know that I have lost a child.

I see your grief.  I see the emptiness.  I see the confusion and ‘swirling’ going on in your mind.

You have never felt this kind of pain before.  You have experienced the deaths of other people in your life but it was never as devastating as this.

You look at me and you wonder how I can walk around and smile like a normal person.   Your world has exploded and you don’t feel like you will ever have a reason to smile again.

You wonder if maybe I know a secret.

Until we started talking – and then you see how quickly my eyes fill with tears.  My broken heart lies right under the surface of my smile.  I feel your pain because it is my pain.  I feel your sadness because I live each day with that sadness.

My mind has started getting used to the huge hole in my life but my heart is shattered.  I have no secret remedy to this nightmare but I have learned some things through this loss that have helped me these last almost 3 years –

*Let the tears flow.  Cry when you want, don’t try to hide it.  I have stopped wearing mascara because I cry often.  That’s just how it is now.

*Don’t stuff the grief and pain down – feel it, deal with it.  Journalling is great because it forces us to slowly work through our thoughts and feelings.  Writing this blog has made me think through a ton of different issues and come to terms with them in my mind.  The fog in my brain gradually lifted as I gained clarity.

*Talk about it.  Find people in your life that have experienced huge loss and who don’t mind talking about it over and over and over.  Just keep talking about it even if you’re repeating the same things.  Something about this process helps organize our thoughts and gets issues out on the table.

*If you have been reading this blog, you know that my relationship with God has been the rock I have been clinging to through this storm.  I don’t know how people get through tragedies like this when they don’t have God.  When a child dies, the life of everyone close to them explodes –  no one is strong.  God was strong for me.  He has given me strength and peace and purpose on this journey.  If you don’t know God, he is the secret you’re searching for.

*Working with the David Glasser Foundation has helped me moved forward.  One of the devastating factors of Davey’s death and the death of any child is losing all of their future.  Davey had so much to give and do yet – things he will now never get a chance to do.  So helping kids and families in his name gives us a chance to do some of those things – it’s not all lost.  I have talked with other families who have started scholarships in the name of the child they lost which is the same concept.  It’s a way to redeem some of what should have been.

* Focusing on being grateful for 34 years with Davey helps me.  Focusing on all the blessings I have today helps me.  I don’t let myself focus on all I have lost because that doesn’t help me stay positive and move forward.

I hope sharing this helps you.

This is a very tough road we are on.  Knowing we’re not alone on this road makes it a little easier.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou