It’s a Crash Course

I’ve been taking a crash course on grief since May 18, 2016 when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.

I thought I had quite a bit of experience with grief before this happened since my father, mother, brother and grandparents have all passed away along with all of my aunts and uncles – all 30 of them.

None of that compares with Davey’s death.

My life blew up.  I totally understand why marriages fall apart when children die because each person in the marriage is affected differently and monumentally by the tragedy.  We can’t ‘be there’ for each other as much as we need because we’re each going through our own personal nightmare.  I give God all the credit for keeping my marriage safe as we worked our way through the first tough years after Davey’s death.  Yes, years.  Not weeks, not months… years.

After Davey was killed, of course our family, friends and Davey’s friends and squad members were grieving with us.  But it took me awhile to realize that the whole city of Phoenix as well as our big Blue Family all across the country were also grieving with us.  This was much bigger than just us. 

When a young person dies, we lose their whole future.  Everything they were going to do and be is ripped away.  All of the hopes and dreams for them are gone…..in a moment.  We all lost Davey – every smile, every joke, every good time.   All gone.  We each felt it and I saw widespread fall-out from the bomb that had hit all of us – job changes, divorces and counselling sessions.

When a police officer is murdered, our whole city loses because this was one of the ‘good guys’ who are working hard to push back the crime and danger on our streets.  This was a person who was already sacrificing their time with their family and their safety to be a part of what’s right in our world.  And now their life has been permanently snatched away by evil.

And we each react differently to that loss.

I’ve learned to give people who are grieving a lot of grace.  I know from personal experience that I was saying and doing weird things, living in a dark cloud of loss for much of that first year.  

I also realized that I had to give people a lot of grace when I was lost in that initial fog of Davey’s death because people around me would say unhelpful things and exhibit strange behaviors as they struggled to try to deal with their own grief while trying to support me in mine.  They were trying – they just weren’t always good at it.

I have learned that there are many ways to effectively grieve.  Each of us has our own personality so we experience loss in our own way.  I can’t tell you how you should grieve or how long you should feel this way.  I can’t tell you that counselling is the answer for you – it’s not the answer for all of us.  There is no one-size-fits-all magic answer.  There are various ways of getting help that are good to try if you feel like you’re getting stuck in the pain.  If one doesn’t work, try another.

I was reading recently about scream therapy for people who have experienced a recent tragedy. And then I remembered I had tried it. That’s another memory that had been lost in the fog. The idea is that screaming will help you get out a bunch of emotion that you can’t express with words and crying. You have to be careful to do it in a way that your neighbors won’t call the cops. So I laid face down on the floor of my house one day and screamed for about 5 minutes. I actually felt better afterwards but I never did it again.

Somehow, someway, we all need to figure out how to move forward – because we are still here and have a purpose.

For me, the main answer has been to stay as close to God as I possibly can.  He has been my Rock as this storm rages around me.  He has been my constant counsellor, comforter and guide down this difficult road.  This is a tough journey that will not end this side of heaven because Davey is gone,

and he’s not coming back.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

He’s Not Gone

I love pictures – especially pictures of my family.

Now that we all walk around every day with good cameras on our phones, those of us who love pictures have a lot of great ones of the events and activities of our lives.

But the pictures are on our phones.

Or they are on Facebook for those of us who are into that.  Or in our clouds – where ever that is.  Ten years from now, when my grandchildren want to look back on family history, where will they look?  Scroll through everybody’s phones? Maybe we’ll have an electronic process that’s easy and convenient by then.  We don’t have anything like that now.

This has motivated me to electronically create family yearbooks and give them to my family each year. I have a copy of the books for each grandchild as well – maybe that will be their twenty-first birthday gift. I love pictures, I have a creative side and I’m pretty good on the computer so making the books for everyone has been a joy…..

until 2016.

That was the year my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer was killed in the line of duty on May 18th.  My world exploded.  The story of our family turned dark and sad and painful.

About 6 months after Davey’s death, I sat down to start our family yearbook for that year and I attempted to make the first page – a dedication page to Davey.  It took me several weeks of struggling to complete just that first page because of my grief.  I would put a box of tissues next to me, determined to get past that first page but I just couldn’t.  Sobs made my hands shake and the anguish in my broken heart would overwhelm me.  Each time I tried, I had to stop.  The emotional fall-out of trying to put together the pictures of the tragedy that happened in our lives in 2016 would follow me around like a dark cloud for several days.

So I stopped working on the 2016 family yearbook.  Whenever I thought about it in 2017, I just ignored it.  Whenever I thought about it in 2018, I would log in and attempt to start working on it, but it hurt.

Too heart wrenching.

Too many tears.

I just couldn’t deal with documenting the year we lost Davey.  I thought about skipping 2016 and going on to 2017 but that was impossible.  There was no way I could skip 2016 – our world had totally changed, we had experienced the worst and we had all moved to a different place.  A 2017 yearbook wouldn’t make any sense without a 2016 book.

So each time I sat down to work on the 2016 book, I would end up staring at the dedication page with tears rolling down my face.  Then I would quit and close my computer.  I did this every 3 to 4 months….

until 2019.

After 3 years of trying and failing, I opened up my computer to see if I could get past Davey’s dedication page in our family yearbook for 2016 and, somehow, suddenly, it felt very right to be documenting my family’s extremely tough journey through that year.  I treasured the pictures and memories of the days before May 18th.  I loved fitting the pictures on the pages – remembering special moments of Davey’s last months.

And the pictures we took after May 18th actually filled some gaps in my memory caused by the fog of grief and the swirling in my head.  They are important memories of how we struggled and loved each other through the pain.

I realized that I had turned a corner on this road of loss.  With God walking closely beside me , my memories had now become more precious than painful.  

I just finished our Family Book for 2017.  I’m couple years behind but I’m confident now that I’m going to be able to get caught up. We had a super busy year in 2017 with memorials and Police Week.  So many people and organizations did great things to remember Davey and show that they cared about us. It felt great to review it all and remember the good times. Our 2017 family book is a really big book full of special memories.  And Davey is there with us.

And I’m so very grateful that my memories have become more precious than painful.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

Yes

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 during a burglary attempt.

Officer Ginarro New from the Phoenix Police Department was just killed in the line of duty. Davey’s department. I know the grief and sudden loss that is happening to his family – I’ve been there.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I post this blog every time an officer is killed in the line of duty in Phoenix and now where we live in Denver. I post this because I just can’t go on with life as normal without stopping to honor and remember the sacrifice of Officer New. I can’t stop thinking of and praying for his family, friends and co-workers.  I know and love a lot of Police Officers in Phoenix and I have witnessed the wave of pain and loss that is now moving through their department. My broken heart understands the pit of grief Officer New’s family has been dropped into and the struggles yet to come.  I know they are waking up each morning hoping it was all just a horrible nightmare…….and then letting the tears flow as they realize it wasn’t.  Their world has shattered…..

and it will never be the same.

I relive these feelings every time I hear of another officer being killed and, when it’s close, it’s worse.  The invisible cloud of grief in my house with Davey’s name on it becomes more evident whenever we lose another hero.

Too many people don’t understand that each death of a Law Enforcement Officer is a tragedy for all of us.  These are the courageous people who live in a thin blue line between the innocent and evil.  Police Officers stand between you and the people who want to make your neighborhood, your city, a dangerous place to live.  They put themselves in harm’s way each day for us.

When good guys lose, we all lose.

And we have all lost another hero.  Officer New was a man dedicated to making a positive difference in our world.  A man willing to stand up against what is wrong and help make it right.

Those of us left behind will remember and honor Officer New for his commitment and sacrifice. 

The Thin Blue Line just got a little thinner.

Davey – Miss you more today.

Love you.

Too Many

Take a look at this picture of the flower memorial we made at the National Peace Officers Memorial in Washington, DC on May 15th, 2017.  We were there honoring and remembering my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.

During the memorial in Washington, DC, each family came up – one by one – and put a red flower into the memorial in remembrance of the police officer they lost in the line of duty in 2016.

Do you see what I see?

There are too many red flowers.   Way too many.  They don’t even fit in the middle of the flower memorial where they are supposed to be.

Too many police officers lost.

Too many families’ lives blown apart.

Too many friends and squad members’ hearts broken.

You and I know that this situation has gotten a lot worse since 2016.  The numbers just keep going up.  Someone is going to have to redesign this flower memorial for Police Week in October this year.  There will be more red flowers than ever.   

What can be done? Our culture has shifted away from respect for law enforcement and shifting it back seems like such a monumental task. In an overwhelming situation like this, I like to apply the saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. “. I am a doer and achiever and this situation would be extremely frustrating for me except for one thing.

We’re doing something about it.

The year after Davey died, his wife and several of his friends were feeling this same frustration.  What can we do make a difference in this situation?  How can we help shift our culture back to having respect for police officers?

The David Glasser Foundation was created with the purpose of creating opportunities for Police Officers to have positive interactions with the people in the communities they serve.  99.99% of Police Officers are great people who care deeply about the people they serve.  When they get a chance to show how much they care in situations where they aren’t arresting people or giving people tickets, perceptions change.  The truth becomes evident.  

And the easiest people to influence are kids because they see through the lies and their experience is their reality.  So the David Glasser Foundation is focusing on sponsoring programs that provide positive interactions between kids and their families and Police Officers.

We’ve chosen kids sports as the vehicle for these interactions because Davey played several sports himself and was a huge sports fan.  Davey learned great things through sports –  like being a team player, responsibility, leadership, and perseverance. 

In the programs which the David Glasser Foundation sponsors, kids learn these great character qualities along with how to play the sport and they get many positive experiences with Police Officers.  It’s a win-win-win.

It feels right to do this as part of Davey’s legacy.  It feels right to be an active part of the movement to push back the disrespect and dishonor towards Police Officers.

Many people have already figured out their own part of helping to shift this perception and they are doing it.  Great job!  If you’re still wondering what you can to do help make a difference, you are welcome to join us at the David Glasser Foundation by donating either on our page on Facebook or at our website. 

Together, we can eat this elephant, one bite at a time.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

My Heart Breaks Again

It hurts.

It feels right.

It’s such a difficult thing to do.

It’s the perfect thing to do.

These are some of my conflicting emotions in the middle of the memorials we attend for our son, David Glasser who was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  A couple of weeks ago my husband and I watched the Phoenix Police Department’s Virtual Memorial and this same strange mixture of feelings swirled around in my head. 

Then we visited the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC last weekend.  It felt so right to be there, remembering and honoring Davey.  But I found the feelings of loss overwhelming as I sat there with the names of fallen officers surrounding me on every side.  Too many names.

My family is a part of a large group of surviving families.  It’s a tough crowd and we’ve got the scars to prove it.  There is grief right behind the smiles.  There is pain right behind the love.  Tears fill my eyes as I hear the names and see the pictures of the officers who have been added to the list of Phoenix’s fallen officers since Davey was killed.  My heart breaks again when I think of these new families who are going through the same nightmare we are.

Memorials are good –

and it’s hard.

As survivors, we share the grief and the pain of our losses which helps…..but it also brings it all back.

When Davey was killed, my family lost someone who was very special to us.  The rest of you lost one of the good guys – and we don’t have enough good guys to lose.  The darkness in our world starts winning when we lose the brave people who are pushing back.

One of the ways we can all push back the darkness is finding ways to honor and remember our fallen officers.   Many of you have Davey’s memorial decal on your car.  I love seeing them.  Thank you!  If you would like to put one on your car, they are available at the David Glasser Foundation website.

We can also join together to show our appreciation for the officers who are still working so hard on our streets and sacrificing to help keep our streets safe.

Having memorials is the right thing to do…..

for me as a survivor, it can also be a tough thing to do.  Remembering all I have lost makes my heart break again.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

The Waves

I’m sitting in Washington, DC. The Law Enforcement Officers Memorial surrounds me – name after name after name after name.

Including my son’s name – David Glasser. He was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.

I feel waves of grief rolling over these walls. The names represent sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and coworkers. Heroes who died serving the people in their communities. So many lives lost. So many other lives blown apart.

The waves of grief wash over me, reminding me of Davey’s funeral. More than 5 thousand people mourned his loss with me that day. I will never forget the feeling of the huge crowd of people sitting behind me and beside me – grieving. I could feel the waves of sorrow and pain pulsing through the huge crowd – I’ve never felt anything like that before or since.

Grief fills my broken heart again today.

But I love the memorial. It remembers and honors each fallen officer individually while representing the dedication and perseverance of all Law Enforcement Officers who have served and are still serving today. Such courage, integrity and selflessness. The best of the best.

It’s not how these Officers died that made them heroes. It is how they lived.

Being a part of the Thin Blue Line is an extremely tough thing to do – especially in today’s culture. It’s not for the weak and the whiners. Only the bold and determined with huge hearts need apply.

And get ready for the scars. The loss.

The reality.

The horrible reality of what it means be a member of the Thin Blue Line smacks me in the face as I walk by the walls here in Washington, DC., reading the names and praying for their family and friends. New walls have been added to the memorial since my last visit. The blank walls are ominous predictors of the tragedies to come. Tragedies like mine.

I believe God has a special place in heaven for these heroes who gave their lives to push back evil for people they didn’t even know.

Davey is in that special place. I know that God decided before he was born that Davey would leave the struggle of this life early to receive his reward.

It’s just so hard being left behind with my shattered heart. Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

Bittersweet

I would like to write a nice, ‘feel good’ blog for Mother’s Day.  But it isn’t happening.

What’s happening is a rollercoaster of bittersweet emotions on this Mother’s Day.  Some of the issue for me is the fact that my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed on May 18, 2016 – right after Mother’s Day.   So the horror of that day has overshadowed my Mother’s Day ever since.  The permanent, painful changes in my life emphasize the hole in my heart – especially on this day.

The last Mother’s Day I had with Davey was just 10 days before he was shot and killed.  I was told later that he had the opportunity for some off-duty work that day but he turned it down, saying he wanted to spend the day with the ‘mothers’ in his life.  That doesn’t surprise me – that’s who he was.  He had his priorities straight.

Davey also knew I was alone that day because my husband had taken an emergency flight to Pennsylvania.  My husband’s father had just died.  Yes, my father-in-law passed away two weeks before our son was killed.  Have you ever felt the crushing impact of multiple bombs going off in your life?

When I remember that Mother’s Day, all I can think about is sitting outside at lunch with Davey.  I remember what it felt like to hang out with him – to laugh and have fun.  I remember how different my world felt with him in it.

My Mother’s Day will never be the same.  There is an important person missing.

But then I remember how thankful I am to have my daughter and four gorgeous grand darlings –  each one of them is such a blessing in my life!  When I focus on them, Mother’s Day starts to sparkle again.  All the possibilities!  All the new memories to make!  Watching my grand darlings grow into their own personalities and strengths is awesome.  Watching Davey’s children mature has the added joy of seeing glimpses of him as they exhibit traits they inherited from their dad.

If you have experienced the loss of a child, you know the rollercoaster that I’m describing.  Dark days and then the light shines through.  Things going smooth….until they don’t.  Several days without tears and then a day when it’s hard to stop the waterfall.

Mother’s day – it’s bitter sweet when you have lost a child.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

Love You

One of the bright lights in my world went out on May 18, 2016.  That’s the horrible day when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was shot and killed in the line of duty.

He was a bright light in your world, too, even if you never met him.

I may confuse you with End of Watch dates.  His official date is May 19th but those of us who were with him in the hospital know that he left us on May 18th.  Feel free to use whichever date works for you.

I’m grateful for the medicine and machines that preserved his body on May 18th so that we had some time to say goodbye.  They also made it possible for Davey to fulfill his final wish – he was able to donate multiple organs saving the lives of several more people even after his own death.

Because that’s what heroes do.

He was one of the good guys.  He cared about our community and he committed his life to defending all that is good and right in our world.  He was proud to be part of the thin blue line that stands between the evil ones and the innocent in our country.  He lived a life of integrity and honor while blending in fun and loving life in a unique way that only Davey could do.

His heart was big and open.  Some of you know that because he added you to his group of friends during your first conversation with him. Others of us have known about his big heart for a long time because he loved us well his entire life.

Davey leaves a legacy of love.

He loved God.  He loved his wife and two small children.  He loved his immediate and extended family.   He loved his Blue Family.  He loved his friends.

He loved sports – all of them.  He was obsessed with the Cardinals and in love with the Diamondbacks as well as all ASU sports.

At Davey’s funeral, his best friend on his squad, James Byrd shared the fact that Davey said ‘Love You’ to his squad members every time he left them.  That surprised me. As his mom, I heard Davey telling us that he loved us all the time.  But I didn’t know he had extended this habit to work.

Davey not only told his squad members he loved them several times a day – he also insisted that the squad members say ‘Love you’ back to him.  AND he insisted that they say ‘Love you’ to each other before they left.

Davey knew.

He knew how close they all were to never seeing each other again.  He knew how quickly something could happen and he didn’t want anyone to ever question that he loved them.  He knew it was very important so he badgered his squad members to get into the habit as well.

Now we are all very happy that he did. I am very happy he did.

‘Love you’ has lifted me up out of a place of deep, dark grief many times these last almost 5 years.

‘Love you’ has challenged me to grow even more genuine in my relationships.  I care more deeply and understand to a deep level in my soul how short my time is here on earth.

‘Love you’ reminds me that I’m still here for a purpose – my watch hasn’t ended yet.  There is work to be done.  Relationships to be built.  People to love.

“Love you’ has helped me survive the worst.  My Father God has used these two words and all of the things that go with them to give me more faith and more strength and more courage than I had before.

And now I continue to figure out how to move forward, living out Davey’s legacy of love.

He would have wanted it that way.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

It’s Coming

May is coming quickly and it’s a tough month for me. My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty in May 2016. His official End of Watch is May 19 but, if you’ve read my blogs you know I often use May 18th because he was gone by the time I saw him in the hospital. Machines kept his body functioning until the next day so we could say goodbye and he could fulfill his wish of being an organ donor. But the awesome son, husband, father, brother and friend that we all knew was not in that hospital bed.

May 18th will forever be the worst day of my life. We always do something to commemorate May 19th which works for me because the worst day – May 18th – is behind me by then.

And, of course, my Blue Family knows that May 15th is Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Day. So 4 days before Davey’s official E.O.W we are remembering and honoring all of our fallen heroes. So many men and women have died serving their communities. Too many families are going through the nightmare we are going through. So many lives blown apart.

I’m sure you can start to understand why May is a specially hard month for me.

The good news is that this is all followed by my wedding anniversary with Dave, my husband, on May 23. Forty years. We were supposed to be celebrating this year on a cruise through the Greek Isles but you know what happened to that plan. I’m grateful that our anniversary is at the end of May. It is a light at the end of the tunnel by giving us something positive to celebrate. It is an accomplishment to be proud of, especially because together we have survived the worst thing that can happen to a parent. It reminds us that our marriage has been one of our anchors in the continuing storm of missing Davey.

This year my husband and I are going to Washington, DC and plan to spend several hours at the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on May 15. I know Police Week has moved to October this year and I’m happy about that for the first year survivors from last year and this year. They need Police Week.

I just need to spend a couple of hours on the 15th in the afternoon by my son’s name at the memorial. 38 – W:30. That’s where I’ll be. If you are in town, please stop in, I would love to meet you. Thomas Yoxall – I’ll be looking for you.

One of the main things that has helped me keep moving forward through the roller coaster of pain and grief that has defined my life these last almost 5 years is getting as close to God as I possibly can. God remains my Rock as he shows me how to survive with a heart that was smashed on May 18, 2016. I spend many hours each week with my Bible open on my lap, listening and talking to God.

The number of those hours with my Father will be going way up in May.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.

A Hero’s Heartbeat

Heroes recognize each other.

They sense it when they have read about or met another person who has the same level of commitment to the greater good as they do.  These heroes are willing to put themselves at risk in order to help or protect others.

Of course, none of them would call themselves heroes.  But we do.  Because looking at their lives, we see something special.  We see a level of love and courage and sacrifice in their lives that we just don’t see in our own lives.

My son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, loved Pat’s Run. He signed up for next year’s run as soon as this year’s run was over.  He recruited groups of friends and family every year to run beside him.  And as soon as Micah, his son, was old enough Micah was running in the kid’s run – with Davey right beside him.

Now I realize Davey loved to honor the memory of Pat Tillman because Davey had the heart of hero beating inside of him.

He shared Pat’s burning need to be more,

and give more

and protect more. 

Davey recognized these things in Pat’s life because he had the same passions inside of him.

To us, Pat’s run has now become a remembrance of all those who served others selflessly and lost their lives.  Davey’s squad members proudly carry the Blue Line Flag as a way to dedicate their run to their brothers and sisters in the Thin Blue Line who gave their lives protecting their communities.  It’s a virtual run again this year but hopefully next year crowds of people with #42 on their shirts will be back running on the streets of our cities, remembering and honoring a hero.  Our team will be running to remember and honor all heroes.

As a soldier, Pat Tillman put himself at risk to serve his country.  As a Police Officer, Davey put himself at risk every day to serve the people in his city.

And they both lost their lives because of the heart of a hero that beat inside of them.

Miss you, Davey.

Love you.