His Legacy of Love

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.

Because ‘Love you’ has lifted us up out of a place of deep, dark grief many times these last three years.

‘Love you’ has challenged us to grow even more genuine in our relationships.  We care more deeply and our lives have become interwoven in a solid foundation of love and support.

‘Love you’ has reminded us that we are still here – our watch hasn’t ended yet.  There is work to be done.  Relationships to be built.  People to love.

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

And now we 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

#8144loveyou

 

My Life Sentence

I have been given a life sentence.

For the rest of my time here on earth, my life will have a big hole in it.  This hole has been getting larger as each year passes since my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on Mary 18, 2016.  He is missing more and more important events and milestones of his family and our family.  He’s not here for first days of school and a new year of flag football.  He doesn’t get the chance to play with tiny new members of our family and birthday parties continue to happen without him.

My life sentence has no end on this planet.  Every hour, every day, every week, every year – he is gone.

I have awesome memories of him, great pictures and  two unbelievably precious grandchildren that remind me of him.  But he’s not here.

And he will not be here.

Usually I try not to think about the fact that, 20 years from now, he will still be gone.  I guess that’s the reality of a life sentence – it doesn’t change.  There is no hope of parole.  There is no break.

I try to focus on all of the blessings I had before Davey was killed and all of the blessings I have now.  But….sometimes… the hole is just too big.  The black hole of grief looms in front of me, making this never-ending path of loss extremely hard to navigate.

This life sentence on earth is a struggle.

So what’s my motivation for getting up in the morning?

Davey is gone but there are so many people still here.  God has shown me that he has a purpose for me here on earth.  There are still a lot of things he wants me to do.  God is very obviously walking beside me down this tough road, giving me strength for the climb and wisdom for the blind curves.

I have also been given the eternal life sentence of being loved and cared for by my good Father God.  This life sentence has already started and it will never end.  There is no grief or loss in my relationship with God.  Nothing can ever separate me from his love.

Davey is no longer experiencing any of these earthly struggles or pain.  He’s in a perfect place with his Father God.

And I will be there, too, someday when my purpose on earth is done.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

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.

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 and Kristen grow old together.

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 the reality that I now live in.

– 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 has been the David Glasser Foundation which is all about spreading caring and love in very practical and tangible ways to people who need to understand that our Police Officers are the good guys – they are part of the solution, not the problem.  The foundation is creating non-policing opportunities for our Law Enforcement officers to show how much they care about the kids and their community in one of the highest crime areas of Phoenix.  Because of all the work of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors, we are starting to see the walls come down.  We are beginning to see interactions that build trust.  And respect.  The foundation with Davey’s name on it is helping to improve the health of the community where Davey was killed. .

Is this our miracle?

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

I Hate Sirens……..Because I Know

The sound of sirens makes my stomach churn.

It means members of my Blue Family are rushing to take care of business.  They are putting themselves at risk – not knowing what they are walking into.  Just like my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, didn’t know it would be his last call when he stepped out of his police car on May 18, 2016.

Sirens are a signal that all is not well in my world.

Sirens in the middle of the night are the worst.  When its pitch black and good people are asleep, those with darkness in their souls like to crawl out to do their evil deeds.

And so I pray.

I pray for my brothers and sisters in Blue.  I ask my Father God for wisdom for them.  I ask for courage.  I ask for protection.  And I ask that justice will be served as my Blue Family  works to push back some of the evil in my community.

Sometimes these sirens are firefighters speeding through the streets with their sirens and lights.  These first responders are partnering with our Blue family in order to bring order to chaos and help people who are hurt.  I pray for them as the sirens wail through the dark night.

All the while, my stomach churns.  And I pray.

You, my dear brothers and sisters in Blue, are a very unusual breed of people.   You race through the night, in a hurry to take care of the crimes being committed by hateful people.

You run toward the gunfire.

You step into the middle of messes.  You move forward into the danger and are a human shield for others – even when they don’t like you or respect you.  You deal with the drugged liars and cheaters of our world every day, all day.

Meanwhile, the sirens scream through the night and my stomach churns.  And I pray for my Blue Family in uniform, trying to push away the fear.

The fear of what could be happening.

Fear for your wives and husbands.

Fear for your children and your babies.

Fear for your fathers and your mothers.

Fear for your families and friends.

Because I know the danger that accompanies those sirens.

I know what can happen.

The phone call.

The trip to the hospital.

The doctor’s unbelievable words.

And the nightmare.

So I pray.

 

 

I’m Not a Screamer

Normally I am not a screamer.

But on this day, I screamed.  And I didn’t stop for a long time.

It was several months after my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.  I remember sitting, staring off into the distance with my mind swirling with pain and grief and anger and confusion.  I don’t know how long I sat there but I know I gradually realized that I had been sitting there a significant amount of time.  And I didn’t feel like what I was doing was helping me deal with my shattered life and my broken heart.

So I thought about an article on grief that I had wanted to read and I eventually found it in a pile.  I am usually an organized person but those few several months after Davey died were the most unorganized months of my life.  Nothing seemed to fit anywhere anymore so everything went into a pile.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you the title of this article or the author or where I found it.  This just shows you how well my brain was functioning back then.

One of the suggestions in the article for dealing with extreme grief was to try screaming.  After surviving a tragedy, we often have a lot of emotions that we keep all bottled up inside of us because everyone around us is also hurting and we don’t want to add to their struggle.

So we keep it inside where it tears us apart, roars in our ears and keeps us awake at night.

The article suggested that screaming might help me get out my emotions and feel better.  I was ready to try just about anything.

They mentioned finding a time when I was alone – for obvious reasons.  I also needed to find a place where I could scream and not end up with the neighbors calling the cops.

Wow- I definitely needed to avoid that scenario.

I went in my closet but it was too small.  Don’t ask my why but I wanted to lay face down somewhere and scream into the floor.

So I laid down on the living room rug, closed my eyes and started screaming.  And I kept screaming.  I had the biggest pity party of my life – screaming my head of as I went through every negative and painful thought and feeling that was rolling around in my head.

I screamed a long time.  When I finally stopped I was exhausted and I had a sore throat.

And I felt lighter.  It felt good.

I got up on the couch and decided that this needed to be a turning point for me.  From then on, I was going to focus on life, not death.  From then on, I was going to be grateful for all I had while Davey was alive and all I still had.  My life was not going to be about what I had lost.

Davey was gone but, for some reason, I was still here.  So I needed to figure out what purpose God still had for me here and do it.

I have cried a million tears between then and now but no more screaming.  The swirling in my head gradually stopped, the piles in my house found their place and I am slowly getting used to the hole – some days are harder than others.

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

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Happy Man Christmas!

Today is the day!

Man Christmas is traditionally the first day of professional football.  I know football officially started earlier this week but David Glasser, my son who was a Phoenix Police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2016, would be celebrating today.

He considered this to be the best day of the year for men who like football.  From their perspective, Christmas is good, football is better.  Of course, a lot of women like football, too, but I’m thinking that not very many of women would put football before Christmas.

Davey loved the Arizona Cardinals.   He was definitely not a fair weather fan – he was there, cheering them on year after year whether they were having a good year or not.  He had season tickets every year.  He knew all the stats and kept up with all the tweets.

Davey loved to tailgate before the games with all of his buddies.  There were lots of games of washers and corn hole.  Lots of food.  Lots of shots and beers.  It was a good time to blow off some steam with his friends since he was going into the 3-hour game where he didn’t drink any beer because the prices were too high.  Davey was always looking for the best deal.

If you sat next to Davey in a game, you were in for some extra entertainment.  He kept track of anybody sitting around him with the opposing team’s hat or shirt on.  He would regularly yell comments out to these fans of the other team as the game progressed – especially when the Cardinals were ahead.  They would also hear from him when they went out to get some food and when they got back with their food.  He and his buddies often had an extra ticket or two because someone from their pack couldn’t go.  They were very diligent in making sure that the people who were given those tickets would not be cheering for the opposing team.

It just wasn’t done.

I love this picture because it shows Davey’s pure delight in being at a game surrounded by Kristen and his friends.  It truly was one of his happy places.

So we gather to watch the Cardinals game today – some of us in the stadium and some of us at home.

And we remember……..

We remember our favorite Cardinals fan and celebrate his love for football.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou.

In the Dark

The fence is down.

I”m talking about the fence around the Phoenix Memorial Cemetery where my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, is buried.

I hope the management of the cemetery doesn’t read this blog because the truth is that the fence never kept anybody out anyway.  The cemetery opens at 8 am and they close the gates when the sun goes down.

But the closed gates don’t keep anybody out.  I know of several night visits by groups of Davey’s friends who jumped over the fence.  There are ripped pants to prove it.  You know who you are.

After talking with other people visiting this area of the cemetery where several fallen officers are buried, I have discovered that jumping over the fence for a night visit is not an unusual occurrence.

This doesn’t surprise me.  Darkness highlights the emptiness we feel.

The hole in our lives feels huge after the sun goes down.

As the night wraps around us, loneliness grows.  Sometimes we’re surrounded by people but our heart longs for that one person.  The person who is missing.

And their spot on this earth is at the cemetery……

this is where we said our last good-byes……

so we go over the fence.

Before the fence came down, it was in bad shape.  So I’m assuming the cemetery will be putting up a new one.

I hope it’s not a very high fence.

I guess it doesn’t matter.  On those difficult, lonely nights a fence won’t stop anybody.

Miss you, Davey

#8144loveyou

I Changed My Mind

Now I want to go back.

In the past, whenever I would be with people who were talking about how they’d like to go back to being 16 or 21 or 39, I would always say I didn’t want to go back.  Each age has its benefits and trials.  Each phase of my life has had its rewards and challenges.  I have never wanted to go back to redo or un-do things.

But I recently realized that I have changed my mind.  Now I want to go back – to any time before Davey was killed.   I would go through all the pain and grief since May 18, 2016 when he was killed in the line of duty if I could go back and relive my last hour with Davey.  Or just the last 10 minutes.  It would be worth it to see his smile one more time.  I just want to hear him laugh.

This picture of Davey was taken at his home about a month before he was killed.  I am so glad we took a bunch of family photos with him that day – they are all extremely precious to me.  When I got to his house that day, he had on some old, ragged, weird-colored clothes and he casually mentioned he was ready for the pictures.  He knew I always tried to do a little color coordinating when we took family photos and he probably put on his crazy clothes just to get a response from me.  I’ll never forget –  I gave him my ‘mom look’ and he laughed.  I knew he was joking so I didn’t have to say anything.  He changed his clothes without another word said – I’m sure he had it all planned out what he was really going to wear.  He just liked to joke around and have fun.  I really miss that.

I want to go back.  I would not  un-do anything – I just want to do it again.

But I know I can’t go back.  And in a group of people who are talking about going back, I probably wouldn’t bring this up because it hits the empty hole in my heart.  The hole that hurts.  The hole that makes it hard to smile sometimes.  It’s the hole that aches at times as I watch his children play sports – he would have been so proud of them.  He would have been spending a lot of time practicing with them and helping them improve – he was a great coach.

My head knows I can’t go back but my heart wants to.

My head knows that the only direction I can go is forward.  All of the great things happening with the David Glasser Foundation have been helping to make moving forward easier.  Being able to continue the work Davey started with the kids and families in Laveen helps the future look brighter.  Witnessing the great things taking place through the efforts of everyone who volunteers for the foundation and supports the foundation brings a purpose and light into my life.  Seeing kids’ lives being positively changed because of the work of the foundation brings joy.

But I would still go back….in a heartbeat.

Miss you, Davey.

Wrestling Well

It’s one of my goals – to wrestle well.

Wrestling – that’s what it feels like trying to deal with all the emotions and realities of this unfamiliar road I find myself on.

I know it’s healthy to feel the grief and the loss of the death of my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty May 18, 2016.  I don’t want to stuff it in or ignore it – that’s going to cause problems.  So I wrestle with it.   In my life before Davey’s death, I was not an emotional person.  Now I have had to get used to the fact that my eyes fill with tears many times a day and it doesn’t take much for me to be reaching for a tissue.   I can’t get through a worship service at church without tears rolling down my face because my Father God has been so important to me as I’ve struggled with this strange life I’ve been dropped into.

Now my tears lie right under my smile.

I also want to make sure my mind is dealing with the issues of grief and loss instead of ignoring them or getting stuck on them.  It’s obvious that writing this blog has helped me as I have worked through different aspects of my reality of being left behind.  If you have been reading these blogs, you just saw me spend several weeks processing how to move forward with my family yearbooks now that 3 years have passed and I can finally touch the pictures of the year Davey was killed without an emotional avalanche.

I have done a lot of wrestling.  God really helped me early on in this journey to identify my new priorities.  Many parts of my old life had shattered.  A lot of my dreams for the future had been stripped away.  So – here I am.  What’s most important to me now?  What’s the next step?  God has been answering my questions as I stay close to him and trust him with everything.

Davey is gone but I’m still here.  Why am I still here?  I know that many parents of fallen officers share the feeling with me that we wish it had been us.  We wish we were the ones that were killed so our sons and daughters could still be here with their children.  It would be an easy choice for us.  But we didn’t get the option to choose and now we’re are in this new place we never wanted to be……..

wrestling.

So much has changed.  Too much has changed.  But I can’t go back, I must go forward.  I have to figure out how to deal positively with the struggle.

I look to my Father God for answers because I know he has a purpose for this journey.  I know he loves me and wants the best for me.   I also know that he loves Davey and wants the best for him.  So – somehow – this is the best.  I will probably never understand that.

I’m still wrestling.

Miss you, Davey

#8144loveyou

 

Here I am Again

I never thought this would be me……..

visiting the cemetery every week to clean the gravestone of my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty May 18, 2016.

But here I am again-

praying for all of us that are left behind.  I don’t talk to Davey when I’m here because I believe that his spirit is at home with his heavenly Father.  I talk to God who is here, right beside us, – loving us and caring for us.  God wants all of us who are broken-hearted to reach out to him for peace and strength and comfort.

There are several fallen officers buried right around Davey so I often walk around straightening blue line flags and praying for all the families, friends and co-workers who are sharing this very tough road of pain and loss with me.  Some days I am overwhelmed by the mountain of the plans and dreams which were stripped away from all of us.  Other days I am reminded of the honor these men deserve because of their sacrificial commitment to what is right and good in our country.

We all have to figure how to navigate this rocky road of grief and we all do it differently.  The first year after Davey was killed, visiting the cemetery was extremely hard for me but I felt the need to make sure his ‘spot’ was as clean as it can be because the cemetery management told me this area with the fallen officers is the most visited place in the cemetery.  The sun just seemed to be extra harsh there so we planted a tree right by Davey’s spot.  If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know the first tree died.  That’s appropriate, isn’t it?  But the second tree is looking good and is actually starting to provide some shade which is a big relief in the Phoenix summer.

Each week, as I step into the shade of Davey’s tree, it feels like a breath of God’s comfort in this desolate place.

I have also starting hanging things from the tree that have special meaning for me.  It wasn’t too long ago that I hung the wind chime given to us from the Donate Life organization on the tree.  I had to wait until the tree grew strong enough to hold it because it’s a heavy wind chime.   When I attached the windchime onto one of the larger branches, it felt like I had also waited until I had grown strong enough to honor this part of Davey’s death.

I was recently travelling through Germany, picking up little things to give people back home, when I saw a metal tree ornament with a heart on it and realized I wanted to bring something back for Davey’s tree.  It just felt right.  Davey loved to travel and our family got the chance to take a lot of trips together.  Great memories.

So now this heart hangs next to the windchime on Davey’s tree and I plan to add more things from future travels.

One of the realities of the cemetery is that it’s open to the public and the cemetery management also cleans up all the ‘extra’ things a couple of times of year.  Everything I have put out there becomes dirty and old from the weather and many things have blown away and disappeared through the last 3 years.

At first that really bothered me.  Each small loss reminded me of the huge loss in my life that Davey’s spot represents.

Now I have learned to hold all the ‘stuff’ out there loosely, while holding my love and memories of Davey close to my heart.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou