I’m Thankful

Last Thursday was my son’s birthday.  He would have been 39 years-old.  

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

He’s not here to celebrate with us but I still celebrate because I’m thankful for every day that he was on this earth.  

The common-held idea that good people die young is very appropriate in this situation.  Davey was one of the good guys and it’s hard to live with the big hole his death has left in my life.  I am frequently reminded of the painful gap between what is and what should be.  His future was something I used to really looked forward to.  His dreams became my dreams for him as he grew and matured into a man with integrity who cared about the people in his community and city.

I will never forget, on his first day of life, there was an Air Quality Alert going on for the city of Phoenix.  As I held my newborn son in my arms, I looked out at the foggy sky through my hospital window and wondered if it was wise it was to bring a child into a world where the air we breathe is polluted.

Since then, I have found that there are far worse things than air pollution.  The evil that lives in the hearts of people who prowl our neighborhoods is what is really dangerous.  The anger and rebellion and lack of respect that defines the lives of some of the people driving down our streets is much more lethal than the air.  Lately we’ve been watching this anger and evil exploding all over our country.  Unfortunately, it will only get worse until our elected  officials and the people of our country give our law enforcement officers the respect they deserve, staff our law enforcement agencies correctly, pay our law enforcement officers well and give the officers the tools they need to do their jobs right.

Why haven’t we learned this lesson yet?

I couldn’t have known 39 years ago that my son would decide to part of the solution to the problems in our culture and in our city.  Davey loved being a Police Officer because it put him right up close and personal with the people choosing evil and unsafe behaviors.  And it put good people behind his gun and behind his back, away from the danger.

I’m proud of being a part of the Blue Family which stands for courage, honor and sacrifice.

Davey stood tall for all three.

Miss you, Davey.  Love you!

 

#8144loveyou

Forever 34

It’s been it’s a struggle to move forward from May 18, 2016.  That’s the day my world blew up.  That’s the day my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.

I am blessed with a great group of family, friends and my Blue Family.  I’m learning how to live with only memories of Davey.

It’s not easy to do.

It doesn’t feel right.

A lot of grief.

The empty hole in my life is very evident.

But I have no other choice.

I thank God for no regrets and a ton of great memories.

Davey’s birthday is this Thursday, November 19th.  He would have been 39 this year.  We had so many fun on his birthday every year!  His 20th birthday landed on a home Cardinals game – the early years of the Cardinals.  We all had a blast tailgating.  Beer pong was still an approved activity then so there were lots of ping pong balls flying everywhere.  Good times!

asu

Davey often had an ASU vs UofA  Football Watch party the day after Thanksgiving if the big rivalry game was being not being played in town. If the game was in town he was usually tailgating somewhere close to the stadium.  Davey loved ASU and he loved the rivalry.  He graduated from ASU along with most of our family except we have one Wildcat…..and he loved to razz her about it …constantly 🙂

Everybody would come to these Football parties and we would have a great time laughing and playing all day.  Cornhole.  Washers.  Watching the game.  Drinking some Coors Light. (Davey’s favorite).   It’s hard now.  We miss him.  We miss his laugh and his joking and his big smile of delight when he was surrounded by his friends and family.

Right after Thanksgiving comes Christmas.   One of my favorite decorations for Christmas is over 30 pictures of my ‘Christmas Kids’ – one for every year since Davey was 4.  In the early pictures, he and his sister are sitting on Santa’s lap.  A couple of years later, Davey is standing in the picture because he refused to sit on Santa’s lap any longer.  And it’s not too many years later that Davey made sure Santa didn’t get in the picture at all anymore.

It’s been awesome to watch my two children grow up through these pictures and then, gradually, the group grew as they both married and we added my two very special grand darlings. Now I have four very special grand darlings.  Davey will never meet the littlest two on this side of heaven.

My grand darlings continue to grow fast.  I know if I blink, they will be graduating high school and then college, getting married and having their own little darlings.  The rest of us will be adding lines and wrinkles and spots and gray hairs as our years progress.

davey-squareBut Davey will stay forever 34…..

Fallen, but never forgotten.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

It’s Still Beating

Thank you to Donate Life and Joey Gase who are remembering and honoring Davey today by putting his picture on Joey’s race car for his last NASCAR race of this season today in Phoenix.  We celebrate together this opportunity we all have to donate life to other people.  Davey’s final wish on this earth was to be an organ donor.  Here is his story –

He had the heart of a warrior and

somewhere –

his heart is still beating.

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

Davey was only 34 years-old and in excellent physical condition when he was killed by a shot to his head.  The actual process of him donating wasn’t easy for me emotionally.  It was hard to say goodbye and walk out of the hospital when drugs were still making his heart beat and machines were making his lungs breath.  But he wanted it, so it happened.

As a result, a whole crowd of people are still walking on this earth because they received Davey’s life-giving organs.

And someone got the Heart of a Warrior.

It’s still beating.

This heart beats for justice.

It beats for integrity and honor.

It beats for courage and personal sacrifice.

And it beats strongly for loving God and loving each other.

I believe that each of us has our own Warrior’s Heart.  God gave us things we are passionate about – things that make our hearts beat faster.  We’re all different so these passions are different as well.

The issues that we really care about are the areas where we are supposed to stand up and do something helpful, something positive.

How do I make a difference in this world?

How do you make a difference?

One very easy way we can make a difference is sign up to be an organ donor like Davey.  I’ve done that.  Have you?  Members of my family have received organs from other donors so we know what a huge blessing it is to people and their families.

Other ways to make a difference aren’t as easy but we need to figure out how to use our passions and our energy to have a positive effect on our world.  Don’t just talk about it – do it.  What do you get riled up about?  What angers you?  What frustrates you?  That is where your passion lies.  But we can’t let the anger and frustration take over – we have to use this energy for good.  To help.

One of the failures in our current culture is too many people are spending their precious time and resources standing against and protesting against things.

But what are they standing for?  Their time and resources could be used to help people – used to make something good and positive happen.

It’s a choice.

I choose to help others look to God, especially in the darkness.  I choose to stand for justice and freedom in our country by standing for the Thin Blue Line between the evil and innocent.

My Warrior’s Heart beats for loving God and loving others.

What does your Warrior’s Heart beat for?

What are you doing about it?

MIss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Another Piece

And another….

and then another.

When will it stop?

As tears roll down my face, I realize the answer to that question is never.

My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  The immediate shock and pain of this tragedy was huge, steam-rolling through my life, smashing everything in its path.  It took months before my brain could organize thoughts again without swirling into a cloud of grief. 

My husband and I lived 1 1/2 miles from Davey’s family at the time of his death and we saw him on an almost daily basis.  He was an extreme extrovert so he was always stopping by with his son to just say hi or pick up his dad to go to the Home Depot or Best Buy.

The emptiness and darkness of each day after his death was excruciating.  The hole is my life was unbelievably tough to deal with.  God was the only thing holding me together during the tsunami of Davey’s death.  His death was so different to me from the deaths of my mother and father and oldest brother because he was always supposed to be in my life.  I was supposed to leave this earth before Davey.  His whole future was ripped away by this tragedy, leaving huge gaps in mine.

People will say that the first year after someone dies is the worst.  The first year after Davey’s death was really tough but I felt the second year was even worse because the permanence of having to live without him became a reality.  

What I didn’t know was how painful it would be to keep losing pieces of my life with Davey as time goes by.  It’s been 4 1/2 years and the losing hasn’t stopped.

This week we lost Milo who had been Davey’s dog.  After Davey’s death, Milo became a service dog at the Phoenix Police Communication Center, loving and helping people as part of Davey’s legacy. It was so great that Milo was still a part of the Blue Family in Phoenix!  And then this week he passed away.

Another piece is lost.

So painful.

It feels like losing a piece of Davey and I don’t want to lose any more pieces. 

But I know I will.  It’s inevitable.  

A couple of the things I have learned that work well for me when the grief is overwhelming and my broken heart is bleeding is to stay as close to God as I possible can.  His love and strength comforts me.  I also find that focusing on the 34 awesome years we had with Davey and remembering all the blessings I have in my life right now helps me move back into a positive place.

It helps but it doesn’t change the fact that it hurts everytime I lose a piece of my life with Davey,

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

 

He’s Not Here…

but he’s not gone.

My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2016.

He’s not here but he continues to live on in the lives of the people he touched.  And he touched a lot of people.

Davey loved people.  He loved talking to people and people were drawn to him because of it.  He was a collector of friends and he had a lot of them – from all over the city.  I’ve seen him get in a long line at the concession stand at one of the many sports games he attended and, by the time he got up to the order window, he had made a new friend of the guy in front of him or in back of him in line.  That guy would show up at the next Cardinal’s tailgate party and be automatically accepted into the crowd of Davey’s buddies.

Davey’s love and acceptance changed us.  We belonged when we were with him.  It was a special gift he had that sprang from his general love for people.

His influence on our lives is far from gone.  His “love you’ echoes in our ears, reminding us to love others every day of our lives – even people we don’t know.  I love this picture of a sign someone made –

It has been challenging me to figure out how show more love to people I don’t know –

On freeways – letting cars enter ahead of me even if I have to slow down to make that happen.

Grocery stores –  checking the people behind me to see if they have significantly less items that I do so I can let them go ahead of me.  I’ve also started letting moms with a ton of kids go ahead of me knowing that waiting in line with all those kids cannot be a fun thing to do.

Doors – I’ve become more aware of people behind me going in and out of doors so I can hold the door for them.

Smiles – having to wear masks in public has really made going out much less personal and pleasant.  This world has become a very lonely place – especially for single people.  So I try to catch people’s eyes if they are looking at me and smile.  I make sure to say ‘hi” if they keep looking at me.

Prayers – I pray for people I pass whose cars are broken down on the side of road.  I pray for the police officers and people involved when I see an accident.  I pray for the people who are in the ambulance with its lights on as it passes me.

I would like to hear some of the ways you show love to people you don’t know.  This world can be a very dark place right now and showing love can help shine some light on the people around us.

As a police officer, Davey showed love and care for people he didn’t know all day, every day.  This is what police officers do.  Davey also did this in his personal life, role-modeling for us how to love people even when we don’t know them.

Davey’s not here, but he’s not gone.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

It’s a Choice

When tragedy strikes, we are forced to choose a path.

When my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, each of us affected by it were forced to make a choice.

When the sun came up on May 19, 2016 and Davey was dead, I had a decision to make.  Was I going to choose a path of bitterness?  Would I be defined as a victim of what was done to me for the rest of my life?  Would my life get stuck on this event?

Or would I choose life?  Would I figure out how to move forward?  Would I deal with the tears and the grief and the hole in my life in light of the fact that I was still here.  I still have a purpose.

When tragedy strikes, we are forced to choose.  Each day we make a choice.  The good news is, if we make a wrong choice one day, we can change it the next.  We have this choice each day until our final breath.

My decision was very easy when I thought of what Davey would want me to do.  He loved life.  He loved people.  He loved God.  And he lived his life full speed ahead – every day.

There is no question about which choice would honor his legacy.  There is no doubt what he would say if we had the chance to ask.

He would say live life to its fullest.  Love people.  Love God.  Never stop growing and giving and having fun.  Live a life of no regrets.  Forgive and move on so you can avoid bitterness and a victim mentality.  Value integrity and honor.  Make your life count by caring for and helping others.

These are the choices that will honor Davey and honor what he lived and died for.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

I Don’t Know What to Say

It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has just lost someone they love. It is extremely hard to know what to say to someone who has just experienced a tragedy that has blown their lives apart.

I’ve lived through the heart-smashing, life-shattering tragedy when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016. I’ve learned many things about grief and grieving people. I’ve been there and I’m still there.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here – everybody is different and reacts to situations according to their emotional personality. Before Davey’s death, I would have said I was a non-emotional person. Now I find that I am much more emotional with tears filling my eyes regularly when something touches the hurting pieces of my broken heart.

Last week I blogged about having to give a lot of grace to people around me right after Davey was killed, understanding that most people don’t know what to say to those who are left behind after tragedy strikes.  I was asked if I could share practical do’s and don’ts I’ve learned from my experience.  If you are also a survivor, your reaction and experience with these situations could be the opposite of mine. This is my perspective and I hope it helps someone out there understand what to say – and more importantly, what not to say – to people like me when we are grieving.

I have learned that we all process grief differently and at different speeds. The first time I see a person who has experienced loss, I don’t know where they are in this process so I usually say a very simple “I’m sorry” and include a good memory I have of the person who has passed. Then I stop talking.  After they reply, I will say something encouraging – for me, this is usually that I’m praying for them and their family.

Some of the things people said to me right after Davey’s death that hurt were –

“He’s in a better place”. I’m a Christ-follower and I believe this is true but I wasn’t ready to hear it right away. God and I had to do a couple of rounds on this one before I got there. This statement is now one of those that I wait to see if the person grieving says it before will I talk about it.  

Other comments that are in the same category are – “God wanted him in heaven”, ” He’s out of this mess”, “The good die young” . Our Blue family has a phrase I heard quite a bit – “If not Dave, then who?” That was painful to hear at first as well because my automatic answer was, “why did it have to be anybody?” I didn’t find any of these helpful until later when I had more time to process the pain and the loss.

“Time heals all wounds” is inaccurate and not helpful. It makes it sound like this will all ‘heal’ and go away. It doesn’t go away. I’ve got a hole in my heart that isn’t going to disappear this side of heaven. I’ve gradually gotten more used to Davey not being here but the hole is still there.

Some people were curious and immediately started asking questions and talking about details of Davey’s death. This was painful to me to the point that I just started ignoring their questions. I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t know how I felt about it yet, and I didn’t appreciate the curiosity. It felt intrusive.

This is a good general rule – let the grieving person guide the conversation.  What are they comfortable talking about? I have found that if the loss just happened, the less I say, the better.   And, please, if you know me and have said any of these things to me, don’t worry about it.  We’ve moved on.  It’s hard to know what to say.  We’re all learning.

One thing I found helpful right away and it continues to comfort me is when someone tells me they are praying for us. Love this! Davey’s death caused a tsunami of pain and loss to crash over our lives leaving far-reaching ripples even now – 4 1/2 years later. Knowing people from all over are reaching up to God asking for his care and intervention for us is awesome.

In the first week after Davey’s death, hundreds of people said to me, “Please let me know if I can do anything”.   I’m the type of person who will ask for help and I found out that some people really meant what they said and went way above and beyond when I asked them to do something for us. Other people were not available to help when I asked so they shouldn’t have said they would – it was just one more thing that hurt.

Many friends provided food for us which was extremely helpful since family and close friends flew in and life was super hectic. Our church family set up a food train for husband and me and our framily (family and friends who are family) set up a food train for our daughter-in-law. We shared all the food and it was extremely helpful since we didn’t have time or energy to shop or cook.

We realized one of the difficult things about receiving food through a food train after a big tragedy is the fact that we just couldn’t talk to all of these people who were delivering food. We were just too emotionally drained. So we set up a cooler outside our door with a Thank You note on it and the food was left inside the cooler. If a friend was dropping off food, they would text us to say the food was there so we could go out and say hi – or not – depending on how we were feeling.

I also learned if you want to do something, then do it. You don’t have to ask in order to do something that is helpful. A group from one of the places we worked drop off laundry baskets full of paper supplies like paper plates, tissues, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper. It was such a great idea! They didn’t ask – they just did it. This was extremely useful with all the family and friends who were in and out of our house that first week.

I also received several personal bouquets of flowers at my home. I love flowers so having these extra bits of color and beauty around my house was helpful to me. It also reminded me how much people cared without having to try to talk to them through the swirling of grief in my brain.

Right after Davey was killed, I realize now that I was living in a fog, with a cloud of pain hanging over me.  Some of my conversations were erratic and I did some strange things.  Looking back, I am very grateful to all the people who gave me a lot of grace and love until I could start to process the loss and think more rationally.  So, while I said before that I had to give other’s grace for what they were saying to me, the people around me had to do the same for me.  Thank you.

The final words Davey said to all of us were “love you”.  These words were a gift that have guided those of us left behind during the fall-out of his death. These words changed my journey on this road of grief as I witnessed the truly magical power of love in the darkest time of my life. 

Thank you, Davey.  Miss you.

#8144loveyou

A Tough 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 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.

Personally, 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, framily, 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 gradually started seeing the 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 the loss.

I’ve learned to give people a lot of grace when they are grieving.  People say weird things and they can do very hurtful things when they are in a cloud of loss.  I had to give people a lot of grace when I was lost in the 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 also learned that there are a lot of 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.  Somehow, we all need to figure out how to move forward – because we are still here and have a purpose.

For me, the answer has been to stay as close to God as I possibly can.  He has been my Rock as the 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.

#8144loveyou

Feeling it……

left behind.

The list of things that I’ve done that I thought I would never do has grown very long since May 19, 2016.  A couple of years ago it felt very strange to be buying a plot in the cemetery next to my son. David Glasser was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2016.  Now that Davey had a plot, it felt right to have a spot next to him for my husband and my cremated remains when that day comes.

We also planted a tree next to our spot.  That first summer of visiting cemetery and cleaning Davey’s spot was brutal.  Hot and horrible.  I felt I really needed a tree out there to provide some shade.  So we bought some more plots and planted one.

And the tree died.  Why was I not surprised?  A dead tree fit right in with the pain and loss I was feeling.

The good news is that the second tree we planted is thriving and starting to provide some much needed shade.  I used to wonder why I felt such a strong need for a tree….until I saw the movie, “The Shack”.  Have you seen it?  Now I know why I wanted a tree.

Spoiler alert – in the movie, they planted the seed of a tree on top of his daughter’s grave.  When they watered it with the father’s tears, it miraculously immediately grew into a big, beautiful, green tree.

Awesome!  Life!  In a place where we remember those who have died.  I’m so glad we have a tree by our spot.

My husband and I have moved to Denver but we recently visited Phoenix and stopped by Davey’s spot to clean it.  He’s not there but it’s a great place for remembering.  While I cleaned, I prayed.  I prayed for our family, our extended ‘family’ which includes his squad and I pray for the families of the other fallen officers who are buried close to Davey.  There have been so many tears in this place.

Looking around the cemetery, I was reminded of all the people I love who are already in heaven.

I really miss my mom.  She was so much fun and such an amazing Christian woman!  My father was a good Christian man who died when I was 21 years-old so I never got to know him as an adult.  My stepfather was also a good man who married my mother on her 70th birthday.  He was a fantastic grandfather to my children.   My oldest brother was 13 years older than me and went to heaven a couple of years ago.  He was the one who walked me down the aisle.  They are all in heaven.

I have been blessed with a strong, Christian background so my grandparents are all in heaven along with a large number of my aunts, uncles and cousins.

And now my son.

He is there.  And there are times when I have an overwhelming feeling of being left behind.  Don’t worry.  There’s no need to call a hotline 🙂  I’ll be here until God decides differently.

But there are days when I am homesick.  Home is where my Father God is.  Home – where there are no viruses, disappointments or problems.  No grief.  No pain.  Home – the number of people I love who are already home is growing.

It is our home because Jesus redeemed our lives.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He is the Way to heaven.  He is the Truth here on earth.  And the Life he gives us doesn’t end here.

If you haven’t made the choice to trust in Jesus, there is no better time than now.  Tomorrow may be too late.

Davey and I would really like for you to join us someday in heaven…

He is already there.

Miss you, Davey.

 

#8144loveyou

May 19, 2016

When the worst happened.

Someone I loved deeply and planned to have in my life for a very long time went to work…..

and never returned.  It is my worst nightmare.

My son, Dave Glasser, was a Phoenix Police officer for 12 years.  So I know about the small cloud of anxiety that hangs over Police Officers and their families every day.  Hoping..

and praying..

that today is not the day they don’t come back.

daveys-shield

Because my son didn’t come back.

And my world exploded.

For 4 1/2 years I’ve been picking up the pieces of my life and figuring out how they fit together around this very large hole in my heart.  I know God has a purpose for what happened and one part of that purpose is me sharing some of this journey with you.  It’s a very tough road filled with huge mountains and big potholes and constant blind curves.  It’s paved with grief and pain, flooded with tears.

Unfortunately, there are way too many people on this road with me – you know what’s it’s like when your son, daughter, husband or friend doesn’t come back.

One of the good things about this nightmare has been my Blue Family.  The amount of care and love and encouragement we have received has been phenomenal.  Unbelievable.  And it started immediately.  I remember my first conversation with my boss after Davey was killed and he reminded me of the Employee Assistance Program provided by the company I worked for.  I told him I didn’t need it because the Phoenix Police Department had an Employee Assistance Team ‘on steroids’ led by Dave Osborne.  We were totally taken care of.

Since then, I cannot tell you how many police officers have talked to me personally and said, “Let me know if you ever need anything.  I mean it. Here’s my cell number.”  And they’ve shown up when they are needed or whenever they know they can help.  When we’ve asked for police volunteers for a David Glasser Foundation event, a crowd of officers always steps forward to prove that they aren’t just saying they will be there for us, they mean it.  Davey’s squad has been amazing in their love and support even as they have been working through their pain.  The Phoenix Police Department has been awesome in their support of us and of the foundation – always willing to do whatever they can to help.

My family actually does bleed blue.  The courage and love and honor that embodies a great Police Officer runs through of the veins of many of my Blue Family members.  Others of us in the ‘family’ have hearts of blue because we love and encourage and pray for our members who wear the uniform.

If either of these describe you, thanks for being a part of my Blue Family.

It’s not an easy family to be a part of.

The worst can happen.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou