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

Before

My life has a ‘before’.

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

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

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

Davey was a planner – always thinking about the next good time, the next tailgate, the next trip, the next get together.  There was a feeling of excitement and anticipation when he was around because there were good times coming.  Guess whose idea it was to have some fun with the leaning tower of Pisa when we toured Italy?

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

I miss Davey’s light in my life.

My struggle with the darkness, grief and pain this last 3 years has been tough.  I have often felt the gloom hanging over me, my longing for ‘before’ crowding out any joy of today.

It’s been a battle.  God has given me strength and has increased my faith through these awful days.  He has given me a lot of family and framily (friends who are family) including my Blue framily who have loved me and brought their own special light into my life.

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

One of my big lessons is about gratitude.

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

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

God gave us a precious gift for 34 years.

And I am extremely grateful.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Battle Scars

It’s a constant battle.

My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  My heart was crushed and my life exploded.

I never use the word ‘healing’ in this journey because that sounds to me like all the pain and grieving heals up and fades away.  That’s simply not true in my life.  The hole Davey’s death left in my life is actually growing larger because he is missing more and more moments and times and events where he should have been…..where he would have been.  That hole is not ‘healing’.  I’m just getting used to it.

I acknowledge that I have accumulated many battle scars since May 2016.  These are places in my life which were torn apart when Davey was killed.  These are the aspects of this tragedy where I have fought and I have cried and I have prayed – and I have moved forward.  I’ve got the scars to prove it.

The Swirl

For the first several months after Davey’s death, thoughts would swirl through my head – not making sense.  My brain was in such shock that it didn’t know how to file all the overwhelming feelings and new, horrible facts that were blowing like a tornado through my life. I have never experienced that before.  Gradually, I learned to stop the swirl.  When it would start, I made my mind focus on something good in my life and concentrate on that.  Gradually, my thoughts would calm down to where my brain could start filing ideas and reactions and feelings in the right places.  This battle brought peace back into my life – one step at a time.  Now, I can see the swirl in people’s eyes when I meet someone who has experienced a recent tragedy.  Been there, done that.  I have fought that fight and it makes me more compassionate for others who are dealing with ‘the swirl’.

Fallen but not forgotten.

Losing someone you love in a law enforcement line of duty death is so different from other deaths.  It’s very public and there are crowds of people involved at all levels.  With Davey, our whole city grieved.  Our Blue Family across the country grieved.  Every May, we have several memorials where all fallen officers are recognized and remembered.  Police Week in Washington, DC is a huge memorial for all of the heroes we have lost.  Participating in these memorials is right and good.  It’s also a battle as waves of emotions and memories are fueled by these events.  The long list of all the things that have been lost is highlighted in bright flashing lights during these memorials.  This battle creates multiple levels of scars because it happens again…..and again….and again….and again.

The Future.

I grieve over all of Davey’s lost plans and dreams.  My heart breaks a little bit more every time the thought of a dream that has been snatched away comes up and slaps me in the face.  It feels like a slap because it. will. never. be.  And it’s a stab into the parts of my heart that are broken.  I have met people who have gotten stuck in this spot.  They have chosen to give up the good that is coming when they decide to stay in the past, focused on what they have lost.  It’s tempting to do that and avoid the battle of figuring out how to move forward.  But I refuse to live in the past.  I submit to God’s plans for the future.  I trust that he has a purpose for all of this and I will move forward, knowing there are more battles yet to come.

The battles are real.  They are tough.  They hurt.  But figuring them out and winning is worth it.

Miss you , Davey.

#8144loveyou

I Have Realized

Somewhere on this painful journey since my son was killed in the line of duty, I realized that I needed to turn my head….

and focus my eyes to the future.

I will never stop grieving so, with tears rolling down my face, I had to pick up the pieces of my heart that were smashed and broken on May 18, 2016 and move forward.

Because I’m still living….

and there is more life happening.  There is much more ‘life’ coming my way.  And this is true of all of my family, friends and Davey’s squad – everyone who felt some of the light in their world go out on May 18, 2016 still has a life to live.  God has a purpose for why we are still breathing.

I only have to look at my two little fatherless grandchildren to be reminded that their whole lives are in front of them.  They have just begun.  And I want to be a fun and positive part of their future.

I look at my daughter and her family and I know that we have many great times filled with precious moments ahead.

Seeing my friends and all of the awesome Blue Family members who have become so important to us, helps me remember that the future holds countless opportunities for special times which make priceless memories.

So I’m challenged to figure out how to move positively into the future.  I’m not leaving Davey behind – I’m taking him and all of my cherished memories with me. He loved people and he loved to have fun.  He would want that for all of us.

Davey will always be a part of what is happening – even in the future.  Because he is a part of us.

And we will never forget.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

You Remind Me of……

I have a lot of great memories of Davey.

My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2016.  He lived his life large and full-out – creating a lot of great memories along the way.

He is no longer here……but those good times have not gone away.  They still live in the hearts and minds of everyone who loved him.

I am often reminded of Davey as I go through my days.  When my husband sits down with my grandson and starts talking sports, my mind flashes back to memories of my husband and son talking sports – many unending conversations about all kinds of sports.  My son knew all kinds of stats and kept up on trades and names and all the latest.  Last year, I was watching a Diamondbacks game with Davey’s son, Micah, who was 7 years-old at the time when a player hit a homerun.  Micah immediately said, “That’s his 20th homerun this year.”  Right after he said this, the announcer on the TV said, “That’s his 20th homerun this year.”

You remind me of………

My grandson looks a lot like Davey so I often see Davey out of the corner of my eye when it’s really Micah.  He also acts like Davey – making fun of everyday things and always ready to dance a little or sing a little if it’s going to add some fun into his life.  Just the other day, he was talking to me about something and first he did it with an Australian accent, then an English accent and then a ‘Monster’ accent.

You remind me of……..

We travelled to a lot of different places as Davey grew up and got into the habit of always looking for a baseball, basketball or football game to go to in the city we were visiting.  Davey continued to travel as an adult and there was usually ‘a game’ involved – where ever he went.  My daughter lives in Denver and when we recently visited her, one of her first questions to my husband was, “Do you want to go to a Rockies game?”

You remind me of …….

A woman in my Thursday morning Bible study group shared that she had bought a Bible suited for her grandson so he could start reading the Bible stories and understand the truths included in them.  My mind instantly wandered to all the hours my husband and I spent reading the Bible stories to our children before they went to bed every night.  I’ve had several people tell me they were amazed by Davey at church camp, Sunday school and Vacation Bible school – he knew the answer to every question.

You remind me of…..

My husband and I regularly have the chance to get together with various members of Davey’s squad family.  As his squad members talk about their jobs and what they are doing now, I am once again impressed by the dedication and the commitment it takes to do what they do. Their courage and perseverance in making this city a better place to live helps me remember how proud I am that Davey was and still is a part of what is right and good and honorable in my world.

You remind me of………

These awesome memories swirl through my mind, creating smiles as tears run down my face.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

So Much Is Lost

I try very hard not to focus on everything that was lost when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 16, 2016.  I try to be grateful for everything I had before his death and also grateful for everything I have now.

But May is a very hard time not to think about all I have lost.  May is filled with Fallen Officer memorials, Police Week and his End of Watch.    I can’t help but wish that the last 3 years were just a nightmare that I could wake up from instead a nightmare that I have had to live through.  It’s impossible not to mourn for all that will never be.

I’ve experienced several deaths in my immediate family of people I loved that were older – my mother, my father and my oldest brother.  Davey’s death has been much harder because he was so young.  When he died, so did all of his future and all of his dreams.

His ‘could haves’,

‘would haves’,

and ‘should haves’ are all snatched away……from him and from all of the rest of us who loved him.

Davey was such an awesome son!  He was always there for our family- caring for us and loving us.  He was supposed to be there for his dad and I as we grow older – being Mr Responsible and making jokes about old people.  He was supposed to be our daughter’s forever friend – concerned about her and being her family after Dave and I are gone.

Davey was a great husband and father.  My two little fatherless grandchildren are the most painful part of this tragedy for me.  Davey only had the chance to be a father for 5 years and he was already an expert – loving them and setting high expectations for their character.  He should be here for their first days of kindergarten, their high school and college graduations, their weddings and his eventual grandchildren.  All of that has been stolen from him.

Davey loved people and they knew it.  He had more friends than anybody else I’ve ever known.  People automatically gravitated to him because they could tell that he liked them. He enjoyed inviting people over to his house -making great memories of happy times.  He was constantly planning the next good time and recruiting all kinds of people to be a part of it.

Davey’s love for people extended to the communities he served.  He told me several times that he worked in the highest crime areas of Phoenix because he wanted to put people in jail who needed to be off the streets so those communities would be safer.

This city lost a lot when he was killed.

Now his love for people lives on in the David Glasser Foundation.  And we have awesome memories of his 34 years here on earth. That will have to be enough.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

The New Faces

I’ll just lay it out there – May is a really tough month.

If you’ve lost a police officer whom you loved in the the line of duty, you know what I mean.  For me, May used to be a good time of celebrating Mother’s Day and the anniversary of the day my husband and I got married.  That all changed in 2016.  My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2016.   Mother’s Day 2016 is the last time I spent significant time with Davey because the next day I got on a plane to Pennsylvania.  My father-in-law had just passed away and I flew out to join my husband for the funeral.  We got back to Phoenix 5 days before Davey was killed.  This picture is the inside of my last Mother’s card from Davey and is now framed on my dresser.

My husband and I had been married for 35 years on May 23, 2016.  Obviously, it was barely mentioned four days after Davey died.

Now May is a month of remembering the son we loved so much and all of the others that have fallen.  It’s a month of commemorating their courage and sacrifice.  It’s a painful month of inevitable tears as we grieve for all that is lost.

This all adds up to a May that is filled with a difficult ride on a rollercoaster of emotions.

I never even heard of Police Week until Davey was killed.  Now its one of the most important weeks of May with many activities surrounding the Peace Officers Memorial Service on the lawn of the capitol building on May 15.  Two years ago my husband and I along with my daughter-in-law, Davey’s two little children and Davey’s squad attended Police Week in Washington as first year survivors.  Some of that week is blur to me.  It was painful and it highlighted all we have lost but it also good and right to honor and remember Davey together.

There it is – the bittersweet of all the memorials we attend.  It hurts but it’s good.  It’s right.

My husband and I are planning to go back to Washington, DC next year to see the museum that has opened up and participate as past year survivors.  I’m expecting that it will be a little easier next time.  I’ve gotten more used to the hole.  It’s interesting to me that the topic of whether or not we are going to the next Police Week is a regular source of discussion among those of us who have lost an officer.  It’s another thing we all share.

May is also the month of local peace officer memorials here in Phoenix.  We attended the Arizona State Peace Officers Memorial this past week – the third one since Davey died.  And I was painfully aware of the new faces.  Three new families joined our group in 2018 because we lost an officer who was their husband, their son, their dad, their brother.

A piece of my broken heart breaks again for them.  I wish that nobody else had to have their worlds blown apart like we did.  I wish they did not have to go through the struggle and grief that we have gone through….that we are still going through.  Tears roll down my face as I think about the fact that they have just started down this very difficult road that has no end here on earth.

Like us, they will drag their broken dreams to these memorials every year – experiencing the good and the bad of remembering.

Please bless these new faces, Father God.  Give them peace.  Give them strength for this long, hard journey.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

The Hole

When my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, he left a big hole.

A bomb went off in the lives of everyone who loved him.

A bomb went off in the lives of his brothers and sisters in blue because another one of them was lost.

These bombs shattered parts of our world, parts that we will never get back.  There are important pieces missing.  There are places in our lives that are broken and can never be fixed.

There is a hole that will never go away.

In fact, that hole is growing.  The list of things that Davey is missing is getting longer.  The empty places where he should be in our lives are more and more evident.

The amount of things we lost when he was killed increases each day, each month, each year.

And it is very painful.

If you have been reading this blog, you know that I’ve said several times that the grief doesn’t fade, it doesn’t heal, it doesn’t grow less.  Don’t tell me time heals all wounds, its not true.

I’m just getting used to the fact that I have to live with this growing hole in my life.

As we approach the third anniversary of Davey’s death, the pain of the permanence of this situation can be overwhelming.  The Fallen Officer memorials that fill our calendars this time of year are bitter-sweet as we hear Davey’s name read again along with all of the other fallen officers in our city.  The fact that the anniversary of his death is right after Peace Officer Memorial Day on May 15 causes me to have several weeks of rollercoastering emotions.

The reality that I’m going to have to live the rest of my life on this earth without him makes tears stream down my face and haunts my nights.  It feels so wrong.

And the hole keeps growing.  We have birthdays, Christmas’ and new little members of our family……but Davey’s not here.

He will never be here again.  It really hurts when I focus on the hole.

So, once again, I turn my focus onto what I had before he was killed and I am very grateful to God for 34 awesome years with Davey.  And I turn my focus onto what I have now and I am very grateful to God for all the blessings he is showering on me today.

But I will always miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

He Woke Me Up

Easter is here – one of my favorite holidays!

And one of my favorite memories of Easter was when a small 5 year-old boy decided he wanted to go to the sunrise service his church was having.for the first time.  He REALLY wanted to go.  He bugged his mom until she said, “Okay, but we will only go if you get yourself up and dressed and come wake us up.”

And he did!

Imagine my surprise!  Yes, that little boy was my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.

On Easter, we celebrate the joy and light Jesus brought into our world when he rose and proved his power over death.  Jesus is our hope.  He was Davey’s hope and Davey knew that when he was 5 years-old.  He was excited about celebrating Easter and he wanted to do it outside watching the sun come up.

My daughter was just 6 months old at that time so I was not excited about getting up at 5 am unless I had to.  But Davey would not be talked or bribed out of it.  So I gave him an alarm clock and we set it the night before.  I showed him how to turn the alarm off, expecting that when the alarm went off and he saw how dark it was, he would just turn over and go back to sleep until it was time to get up for the normal church service.

Imagine my surprise the next morning when a little hand reached over the side of my bed in the dark and shook my arm.  There he was – all ready and smiling and excited about going to the sunrise service!  So my husband and I struggled out of bed and pulled on warm clothes.  I had to wake up the baby which is something I hated to do but a deal is a deal.

Davey got more and more excited as we drove to the park where the service was being held.  We dragged blankets and baby gear up the side of one hill and settled into our spot just as the sun started peaking over another hill in front of us and the music started.

It was an awesome service and we were hooked.  We went to sunrise service every year after that – we never missed it.

I realized something else that day – Davey could use an alarm clock, get up and get himself ready.  So, that’s what he started doing Monday through Friday.  It was great!  I’m not aware of very many 5 year-olds who get themselves up and walk out of their rooms in the morning dressed and ready for school but that’s what he did.

So today I celebrate the resurrection of my Savior.  And today I celebrate this precious memory of a special little boy who became an awesome young man.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou