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

He’s Coming With Us

It’s done.

My 2016 Family Yearbook is complete and the finished product will be showing up in my mailbox any day.  Thanks for taking this journey with me as I have had to figure out each step of the way.  I didn’t expect this to be such a soul-searching, emotion-packed process.  First, I sobbed through getting the front page done dedicating this book to my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.

Then I couldn’t touch for book for 3 years without struggling with the extreme pain and grief of the loss of Davey.

But, gradually my memories of 2016 have become more precious than painful to me.  As I finished the book, I realized I needed to change the title as well because Davey’s legacy has evolved the fall-out from this tragedy into a story about the power of love.  God’s love and the love we have for each other has re-named this journey and for that, I am very grateful.

So now I face getting to work on our 2017 Family Yearbook.

But it’s hard to start.

Because there is no way I’m going to make a family yearbook without Davey.

Not happening.

I know he will always be a part of us.  I see him in the faces and actions of both of his children.  His pictures are everywhere.  Who he was and who he is influences the lives of his family and friends today.  He lives in our hearts.  Davey’s legacy of love has changed us.

He has never left us.  He was a part of our lives in 2016 and he continues to be a part of our lives today.  So my plan is, as I fill the pages of our 2017 yearbook and all the books to come, I will include pictures of Davey through the years at Christmas, Davey at Easter, Davey on his birthday, Davey at the birth of his children and more.  I’m sure that these great memories will bring smiles to our faces as we realize that he is still a part of us.  I wasn’t doing family yearbooks when he was a kid so his early year photos will give a better picture of who he was to his children and grandchildren.

All of our family yearbooks are going to have pictures of Davey in them.

He’s coming with us.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

 

Today….

I wrote this about a year ago. I’m so very glad we didn’t delay having fun together. No regrets.

My Family Bleeds Blue

not tomorrow.

Looking back, before my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer was killed in the in line of duty, one of the things I’m very grateful for is the fact that we didn’t put things off until tomorrow.  We were – and still are – people who don’t wait until next year, or the next year or the next year to do fun things together.

We went.  We saw.  We did.  We had a great time.  And we have the awesome memories to prove it.

No regrets.

We discovered that there is never a perfect time – we just had to plan it and do it and it all worked out.  What sounded crazy at first – “Let’s all go to Italy next summer” – becomes possible with a good plan and the willingness to just go for it.  I have travelled a lot so I was…

View original post 380 more words

A New Definition

I didn’t see this coming.

When I started blogging about my 2016 Family Yearbook a couple of weeks ago, I shared with you that I had discovered I have turned a corner.  I had struggled for the last 3 years trying to document my family’s journey through 2016 but the grief and pain stopped me.  Time after time, with tears rolling down my face, I had to close the computer and walk away.

But that changed a couple of weeks ago.   When I sat down this time to try to get past the first page dedicating the book to my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, I found that the memories of the months right before and after his death have gradually become more precious than painful.

I realize now that this tough road we have been on is an extremely important part of the story of my family.  These memories and pictures and events need to be put into order so that my grandchildren and their children and their children will have a good picture of what happened to their family in 2016 – when the worst happened.

So I’ve been working hard and I am glad to say that our 2016 family yearbook is almost complete.  I just have to find a couple of more photographs that I know are out there, just not quite sure where they are. (This is one of my motivations for doing these books in the first place)

As I was reading through the yearbook, adjusting pictures and adding captions, I started looking at the title that I had given to this book 3 years ago – “2016- Defined by Tragedy, Touched by Love”.

That’s how I felt 3 years ago…..

My world had exploded.  The loss of Davey was overwhelming.  There was no end to the reminders of the dreams and plans that had died with him.  Waking up each day, hoping that it was all a nightmare and then discovering it wasn’t made my world a much darker and sad place.   This tragedy had stripped away my joy.

So the title fit –

then.

It doesn’t fit anymore.

Looking back over these last 3 years, I had to change it.

Here’s the new title –  “2016 – Touched by Tragedy, Defined by Love”

Davey’s last gift to us was “love you”.  He said it all the time instead of ‘good-bye”.  He knew what we have now discovered- that love changes things.  Love has given us light in the midst of the darkness.  Love has made the hole Davey left bearable.  Love has created new relationships tied to our mutual tragedy that will be very important to us for the rest of our lives.  Love has eased the despair and given us a new hope that our lives can be good again.

Thank you, Davey, for your legacy of love.

Miss you.

#8144loveyou

What Changed?

After reading my blog last week, did this question pop into your head?  What changed?

Why did my memories of what my family went through since my son, David Glasser, was killed in the line of duty of May 18, 2016 change from painful to precious?

It’s obvious to me.

Love changed everything.  God’s love and the love of others changed the road where I was dumped on May 18th from a dark and endless struggle to a tough but valuable journey.

After many years on this earth, I discovered several new things about love after Davey’s death.  God’s love has never shone brighter to me than when I was thrown down into a deep, black pit of grief.  I had never before experienced the supernatural strength of God’s perfect love for me.   I know I will never fully understand it but I feel it – every day.

Davey’s last words to all of us were “Love you” and, when we started following his example, something special happened.  It’s hard to be angry when, where ever you go, people are telling you they love you.  It’s hard to be bitter when you are surrounded by people who are not only telling you but they are also showing they love you.  It’s hard to feel alone when people are constantly reaching out their loving arms to hug you and tell you they love you.

It took time, but love gradually changed everything.  My first clue that love was affecting my journey was when God asked me to start writing this blog 6 months after Davey died.  I realized then that I had a unique story to tell.   My eyes were opened farther when I went to Police Week in Washington, DC as a first year survivor in 2017 where many mothers shared how bitter and extremely angry they were.  I was not feeling any of that – God’s love and the love of others was already making a big difference in my life.

Davey knew that love was the central ingredient of a full and fun life – even in the middle of the struggles this world brings us.

He gave me this last gift that has made all the difference.

Love you, Davey.  Miss you.

#8144loveyou

Precious

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 each member of my family a copy for Christmas.  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.

In November of 2016 I sat down to start our family yearbook 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 recently.

I opened up my computer a couple of weeks ago to log in and see if I could get past the first page of our family yearbook for 2016.  And, somehow, this time, 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 together to find a new normal.

I realized that I have turned a corner on this road of loss.  My memories have now become more precious than painful.  

There are still tears but the pictures taken before Davey’s death in 2016 are priceless because – we didn’t know it then – but these were our last moments with him.  Every picture after his death is also important because they chronicle our journey together as we started down this very tough road without Davey.

Adding pages to these books adds cost and, in the past, that has helped me limit how many pictures I include in a book.  Not this book.  This book is going have every picture that is important to the story of our family in 2016.  I’ve been working on it for weeks and I’m not done yet because I keep remembering great pictures of special moments that I still need to add. I’m including my favorite blog of that year as well – It Has Been Decided.

When they sit down with this book, my grandchildren and great grandchildren will have a great view into our family’s journey through the toughest year of our history.

That makes me excited about completing our 2016 book.

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

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

 

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.  It’s hard to move when my heart is shattered.  Everything seems to be ‘less’ than what it was ‘before’.  I have good times….until I’m reminded about all that is missing.

At the beginning of this journey, 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 quickly 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 the place that honor takes 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 was and is one of them.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou