Leftover Dust

My dreams were crushed.

The vision of what my future here on earth was going to be blew apart.

All of the smiles and love and good times that I expected to have with my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, were ripped away on May 18, 2016 when he was shot and killed in the line of duty.

There are large places in my life that are filled with disappointments from all I have lost.  Actually, calling them disappointments is like calling a hurricane a little rainstorm.  I’m disappointed when my team doesn’t win, I’m disappointed when a friend doesn’t text me back – those are disappointments.

Davey’s death caused devastation. It was a crushing blow.

All that was left of my hopes and dreams of his future and my part in it was dust.  How do I deal with the dust?  What do I do with the small remnant of an extremely important part of my life?

I didn’t know.  I just knew I didn’t want to go down the angry and bitter road that I’ve seen some survivors go down.  I didn’t want to go the hopeless route, blaming others for my unhappiness.

I didn’t know what to do with the dust so I gave it to God.  I trusted that the Creator of all Things could do something with the dust …..and he has.  As I have watched, I am seeing him begin to create a new part of me in the empty space – something stronger, more compassionate, increasingly solid and based on his truth.  He has helped me refocus my eyes off of this world which is not my home and onto my next ‘forever home’.

God has given a purpose to my dust and is remolding me through the devastation that has happened in my life.  It’s very evident that he’s not done.  He is in the process of re-creating what my future looks like on this earth.

For now, that is enough.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

His Voice

I would recognize it anywhere.

Last week a memory came up on my Facebook page from 6 years ago.  Davey had made a video of his son sharing what he learned in Children’s Church that Sunday.  Adding arm gestures, 4 year-old Micah said, “God loves me.”  Watching the video, I was just starting to smile when I heard Davey’s voice come onto the video, encouraging Micah.

I wasn’t prepared.

The tears started instantly.

I would recognize that voice anywhere.

My son, David Glasser was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016. 

Over 5 years ago. 

At times like these, it feels like yesterday.  If you knew Davey or were at his funeral, you know he is in heaven today.  He put his faith in Jesus and he wasn’t shy about sharing that with other people.

God leaves out a lot of details in the Bible about how heaven works.  He mentions streets of gold, mansions and crowns but I think he used those descriptions because those are things we can relate to and understand.  I think heaven is going to be indescribably better than that.

God gives us a glimpse of what our bodies might be like in heaven when we read about Jesus after his resurrection.  Jesus ate, he walked through walls, and he just ‘appeared’ places.  People didn’t recognize him right away….. but then they did a double-take and knew who he was.

We have each been uniquely designed by our Father God and we reflect different aspects of who he is.  I believe we will take the good parts of that ‘personality’ into heaven with us.

I believe that – someday when I get to my ‘forever home’ in heaven – I will hear his voice again.  Davey’s voice.  I might not recognize him right away but I will instantly know who he is because of that voice.

Davey is there already.

Someday I’ll join him.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

Not the Right Answer

I’ll admit it – it’s been over 5 years and I’m still having trouble asking God for safety.

Some days, when I hear people around me include in their prayers a request that God keep certain people safe, a cynical voice in my head says, “Yeah, good luck with that.”

I have prayed regularly for the safety of my children since the day they were born.  I doubled my prayers for safety when my son, David Glasser, became a Phoenix Police Officer. Then, on May 18, 2016, Davey was killed in the line of duty. God did not keep him safe.  So what was the purpose of all of those prayers?

I am totally convinced that God is good. I know that he loves me and has the best plans for me. I realize that God’s perspective is completely different from mine and he is always right.

My head knows that God listens to my prayers and responds.  He often changes my attitude while I am praying.  He gives me insights and answers.  He also gives me comfort and peace.

My head knows that this world is not a safe place.  I am not safe here.  You are not safe here.  Davey was not safe here.

My head understands that God protected Davey here on earth for 34 1/2 years.  I will never know all of the illnesses, incidents and accidents where God kept Davey safe during his years on earth.  I had heard about several very close calls Davey had on the job before he was killed.  God protected him then.

My head knows that now God has taken Davey home where he is truly safe.  It could be said that God answered my prayers.

But my heart doesn’t like that answer.  It’s not the answer I wanted.  It’s the most painful and heart-shattering answer I’ve ever gotten.

I’m sure I will understand it after I get to my ‘forever home’.

Until then,

I continue to struggle with asking God for safety.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

After

My life has an ‘after’.

My world blew up when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.   Many of my expectations and dreams for what my future was going to be were snatched away.   Now there is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ – a major dividing line in my life.

I talked about ‘before’ in my last blog.   I think it is ironic that thinking about ‘before’ is not without its struggles because it reminds me of all that is lost.  There used to be a light in my life that is has dimmed and a wholeness in my life that is now gone.

‘After’ is clearly the loser in the comparison of the two halves of my life.  I never expected to feel this level of grief or pain.  My father, mother and oldest brother have all passed away but I didn’t know until now that experiencing the death of a child could feel this horrible.

‘After’ is an extremely tough place to be.  Everything seems to be ‘less’ than what it was ‘before’.  I have good times….until I’m reminded about all that is missing.

Right after Davey was killed, it felt like l was dropped into the middle of a deep dark jungle – extremely harsh, lots of traps, sometimes struggling just to take my next step, and not really wanting to move forward because Davey wasn’t going to be there.  The shock was so great and the grief was so heavy that it was a challenge to get up and face the mountain of pain that each day brought.

I am so grateful that God has been there to walk beside me each step, taking me through the jungle and helping me to start seeing the light again.  I have learned many life-changing lessons on this journey so far.  Here are a few:

  • Love really does change things.  Davey said “love you’ to everyone he cared about instead of ‘good-bye” and all of us who loved him were blessed by this when he was suddenly gone.   So we all started following his role-model and it changed this very tough road we’re on.  Loving each other and saying it out loud helped us in ways that are hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it.  “Love you” was Davey’s final gift to us all.
  • I have an entirely different view now of the courage it takes to be a Police Officer. They face unbelievable things every day and they do it because they care. That kind of caring runs deep within the hearts of Police Officers, making them go out each day to face the worst our city and our neighborhoods have to offer. And so many people don’t even appreciate it.
  • Obviously, I have taken a very personal journey into the sacrifice that Police Officers make for the people in their communities.  They regularly sacrifice other things in their lives in order to do their jobs well and be part of what’s going right in our city.  Some officers, like my son, sacrifice everything – that’s the risk they all take each day as they step out of their front door to do their job.
  • I also have a new understanding of how important honor is in the life of a Police Officer.  There is honor in always taking the high road – being the voice of reason and caring – when they are out on the streets of our city, working to keep all of us safe.  There is honor in the traditions and ceremonies that happen in the lives of our Police Officers.  There is honor in remembering our fallen heroes.

Love, courage, sacrifice and honor are woven together into the souls of Police Officers, making them able to stand for what is right even when they are face-to-face with evil.  They are special.  They are ‘the good guys’.

And I’m proud that Davey is one of them.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

Before

My life has a ‘before’.

Before my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, my world was a different place.

It was a place where my family was whole.  When I think back to ‘before’, there is a special light that shows up in my memories and that light has now disappeared.

My husband and I lived 1 1/2 miles from Davey and his family the last 6 years of his life so I could expect to see him or at least talk with him almost every day.  He would regularly drop by unannounced for something – anything.  He loved people so he was always in search of people to talk to, people to hang out with.  Most of the time Davey had his son, Micah, with him when he dropped by and he wanted his dad to come along wherever they were going – Home Depot, Best Buy, where ever.  His then five year-old son, Micah, called Best Buy ‘daddy’s store’ so that gives you an idea of how often they went there.

Davey was a planner – always thinking about the next good time, the next tailgate, the next trip, the next get together. There was a feeling of excitement and anticipation when he was around because there were good times coming. He fell in love with tailgating at the Cardinals games when he was young and beer pong was his game of choice until it was outlawed.

He was open and friendly, gathering friends wherever he went.

I miss Davey’s light in my life.

My struggle with the darkness, grief and pain this last 5 years has been tough.  There are times when I feel the gloom hanging over me, my longing for ‘before’ crowding out any joy of today.

It’s been a battle.  God has given me strength and has increased my faith through these awful days.  He has placed a lot of people around me who love me and have brought their own special light into my life.

I have started to see some of the lessons God is teaching me through this terrible journey.

One of my big lessons is about gratitude.

I. am. so. grateful. for. the. 34. years. we. had. Davey.

Words cannot express how grateful I am.  I have realized, when I focus on my gratitude for how awesome Davey was and all the great times we spent together, some of Davey’s light seeps back into my life.  Memories become warm and good instead of painful.  When I am grateful for the time we had with Davey, my world seems less empty and much less sad.

God gave us a precious gift for 34 years.

And I am extremely grateful.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

Hidden Landmines

“Do you have any children?”

It’s a natural, ‘getting to know you’ question asked pretty early on in our first conversations with people. My husband and I moved out of Arizona to the Denver area at the beginning of the pandemic so we have a lot of these ‘meeting new people’ conversations.

I used to be the first person to ask the children question when talking to someone I was just getting to know because I loved to talk about my kids. Now I wait to see if the other person is going to bring it up.

This topic is like stepping on a landmine when I meet people who don’t know about the tragedy that blew my life apart 5 years ago when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.

Yes, I want people to know me and I want them to know about Davey and his life.  It’s just a tough thing to bring up in the middle of a conversation with someone I barely know.  Depending on the emotions rolling through my heart that day, talking about Davey can start the tears rolling down my face.  That’s a real conversation stopper.

So I usually start talking about my daughter and how we are so blessed to live close to her and her family. Depending on how the conversation is going, I make decisions on how much I’m going to share about Davey.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk about Davey and all the great things about him.  But sometimes on some days, there are very strong emotions tied to this subject.   When emotions make the situation feel awkward, I start talking about my beautiful grand darlings – two grandsons and two grand daughters.  They always help me smile.

This experience has taught me a couple of things about ‘getting to know you conversations’.  They are not as superficial as they seem.  Most people have various bruised and tender spots in their lives that can be difficult to talk about.  We can’t avoid the landmines because they are often a central part of our lives that need to be included in who we are.  So we share the hurt and we share the emotion and we share the awkwardness.

And – in the end – we know each other a little better.

That’s a good thing.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

It’s Permanent

There is a cost.

There is a commitment.

Love leaves a mark.

The cost is being more concerned about another person than you are about yourself.  What I want is not the most important thing when I love someone.

Commitment means loving this person even when they are unlovable.  Sometimes it means offering help and other times it means drawing helpful boundaries.

Loving someone well takes a lot of energy and patience, wisdom and understanding.  Loving people well is a lot of work.  And it leaves a mark.

I have discovered that this mark doesn’t go away after someone we love dies.  This mark is permanent and never leaves us.

David Glasser, my son, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  The mark he left on us was an unusual kind of love.  It was an outspoken love – a love that broke down some of the walls that we have built as adults.  He said ‘love you’ often and you knew he meant it by how he included you and had fun with you and was loyal to you.  You knew there was a commitment being made when he said ‘love you”,

It wasn’t just something he said.

The mark Davey has left on us is big.  We have discovered how large of an impact he made on our lives as we continue to love one another with an outspoken love like he taught us.   Saying it and showing it.

The cost of loving people out loud is giving up some of our ‘separateness’ and privacy. The cost is taking our eyes off of ourselves long enough to see someone else that needs a hug or a hand.  The cost is letting others love us, knowing that this love will leave a mark.  It will change us.

The commitment is not giving up even when its tough or strange or even a little weird.  Yes, weird.  If you’ve been really trying to love others, you know what I mean.  The commitment is setting love as a priority and letting go of other things that we always used to think were important.

If I were to draw a picture of the mark Davey has left on us, it would not be a heart.  It would be a magic wand.  Because I have discovered since Davey’s death that loving people out loud has magical qualities which cannot be explained.

Love changes things.  It has a supernatural power that comes straight from God.  Love brings light into the darkness.  Love soothes pain and sadness and loneliness.

Love really can change the world.

Thank you for the permanent mark of love you have left on our lives, Davey.

Miss you.

My Nightmare

It happened again this week. While talking with someone I just met, the subject came up and I said my son, David Glasser, had been killed in the line of duty 5 years ago.

5 years ago.

Sometimes the pain feels like yesterday. It’s very hard. And saying it makes it more real.

For weeks after Davey’s death, I would wake up every morning hoping that it was all just a bad dream.

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Praying that it was all a nightmare that I could wake up from.

Every morning I would open my eyes and look around my bedroom – hoping I wouldn’t see the frame on my dresser which holds the last Mother’s Day card I’ll ever get from Davey.  The one he signed “I love you”.

Every morning I would hope I wouldn’t see the box with his picture and a flag and his metal of honor that stood on the counter in my kitchen.

Every morning I hoped I wouldn’t see the memorial handed out at his funeral which I posted in our living room. He had such a great smile!

Every morning I wished that this would be the day that his tall, lanky frame would come back through my front door.

But I saw the card and the flag box and the memorial and Davey never walked through my door again.

Because it wasn’t just a very bad dream.

The worst happened.

The nightmare is real.

 There’s a big gaping hole in our lives.  We can’t go back to our old lives because Davey is not there. It’s like a dimmer switch has been turned down on the light and laughter and joy in our world.

If you knew him, feel it, too.

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I don’t know how people can deal with tragedy like this without faith in God. I believe that Davey is in heaven with his Father God.  With my Father God.  He’s there with my mother, father, stepfather, brother and many more of my family and friends who have gone home before him.  I believe that God is in the process of bringing good out of the evil that was done.  I believe that I’ve been left behind because God has a part for me in his plan.

Davey walked into my dream a couple of months after he was killed.  I was sitting at the table with my daughter-in-law and my little granddaughter.  It felt like a regular ‘time to color’ or ‘let’s eat’.  Then Davey walked in and sat down.  He gave us a big smile.  He didn’t say anything.  He just smiled at all of us.

I looked around the table at his ‘girls’ and blinked.

Maybe everything else really was all just a dream!!

It felt so real.  The explosion of hope in my heart was so strong that it woke me up.

And the nightmare was back.  Sometimes I just want to live in that dream.

But Davey’s  big smile stays with me.  He’s happy.  He is in a place with no sadness, pain or nightmares.  The battle between good and evil that he committed his adult life to here on earth is over for him.  Where he is, the good guys have won.  Davey has won.

On the day that is already determined for me, I will see him again.  It will not be a dream, it will be my new, eternal reality.

What about you?

I know Davey would like to see you again, too.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

When the Answer is No

I asked.

I begged.

The night after my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was shot and was laying in a hospital bed attached to machines while his brain waves gradually disappeared, I felt a level of hopelessness that I had never experienced before.  The pain of the reality of what was happening continued to escalate as each hour passed through that long, dark night.

I was desperate to see God move – he needed to do something.  So I went down to the hospital chapel all by myself, I walked up to the altar and laid face down on the cold tile.   And I begged God for a miracle.

It was becoming increasingly obvious that Davey needed a big miracle. So I begged.  I have no idea how long I laid there, pleading with God.

At this same time, my husband, Dave, was walking up and down the crowded hallway outside of Davey’s hospital room, asking everyone to pray for a miracle.

There were also three waiting rooms downstairs in the hospital filled with people – many of them praying with us, asking for a miracle.

Every hospital hallway I walked down was filled with people – most of them praying with us, asking for a miracle.

I texted my closest friends and asked them to pray with us for a miracle.

In my mind, I see all of those prayers combining into a huge hand reaching up out of the roof of the hospital, stretching up to heaven, asking our God who holds life and death in his hands to reach down and touch Davey.

We asked.

We begged.

A few hours later we received our answer.

And the answer was no.

No more smiles and jokes from Davey.

No more fun and games with Davey.

No to watching my grandchildren grow up with their father’s arms around them.

No to watching Davey live out his goals and dreams.

So many no’s.

There’s a reason why we all listened to Hilary Scott sing “Thy Will” at Davey’s funeral.  Because we asked for a miracle for Davey and God said no.  He has a different plan than we do.

Every day I am reminded that God has a very different plan than mine.  Standing on the rock of God’s love and trusting that he has many great tomorrows waiting for me, I move forward……

– not knowing where this is going.

– not happy about having to live the rest of my life here on earth without Davey.

– not understanding why I have to travel this path.

I move forward, taking my broken heart with me.  I listen and watch as God reveals his plan, one step at a time.

And one of those steps forward has been the David Glasser Foundation which is all about supporting non-policing opportunities for our Law Enforcement officer volunteers to show how much they care about kids and their families.  People – and especially the next generation –  need to understand that Police Officers are the good guys, here to help and sincerely caring that families have safe neighborhoods to live in.  The foundation with Davey’s name on it has become part of the solution to improve the health of our communities. 

Is this our miracle?

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

Standing Tall

He noticed it.

He talked about it.

He took pictures of it all the time.

David Glasser, my son, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty May 18, 2016.  He lived in Goodyear which is on the far west side of Phoenix so he was often on the I-10 driving east  – going to work, to the Cardinal’s games, to ASU games, to Diamondback games, shopping, seeing friends – lots of reasons to get on the freeway going east.

And every time – without fail – Davey would make sure to notice the gigantic American flag at Camping World just south of the freeway.  If anyone was in the car with him, he would always make a comment, ” Wow, the wind is just right today.  The flag looks great.”, “The flag is looking pretty worn out – they will probably be replacing it soon.” and “Look!  A new flag!”.  If his kids were in the car, no matter how small they were, he would ask them, “Where’s the big flag?” and they would eagerly point it out, happy to play along in this ritual with Dad.

Davey loved how great the flag looked as it flew over Phoenix – the city he was committed to protect and serve.  He was proud of being one of the good guys – a part of what’s right about America.  This picture of his favorite flag was found on Davey’s phone after he was killed.  He took it 2 days before his death.

After Davey was killed, Camping World somehow found out about his love for their flag.  So they presented the huge flag that was flying when Davey died to the Phoenix Police Department and they presented more normal-sized flags to Davey’s wife and kids.  Thank you, Camping World!  What a great way to honor him!

The huge flag eventually was given to the Phoenix Police Explorers group which is made up of both high school and college students from all over the valley.  The students give about 3000 hours service to their communities every year and they have helped out at David Glasser Foundation events several times.  The Explorers took the flag with them on their summer trip that year up to Colorado and created their own ceremony to remember and honor Davey.

Tears stream down my face as I look at this picture of these young men and women standing at the foot of the Rocky Mountains with the flag Davey loved stretched out between them while the National Anthem was sung by one of the students.   With young people like these, there is hope for America.  They are in the process of becoming the brave people who fight for freedom that our National Anthem speaks of.

I was told that it was especially fitting because the flag was very worn and tattered on the end.

It’s tough on a flag to stand tall through the sun and wind and dust storms in Phoenix.

It was tough for Davey as he stood tall for justice and safety for the people of Phoenix.

And it’s still tough – every day – for our Law Enforcement Officers who stand tall in the thin blue line between the evil and the innocent – protecting our freedom to live safely in our communities.

When we see the American flag flying high over us – where ever we live – let us remember those at home and abroad who have given their lives to serve and protect us.  And let us remember those who are still sacrificing and protecting our freedom and keeping us safe each day.

Davey loved the flag and what it stands for.

Everytime I drive past a beautiful big flag waving in the wind I think of him……..and smile.

Miss you, Davey.

Miss you.