This is My Path

I never wanted to be here….

Since my son, David, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, there are many things I don’t like about my current circumstances.  Topping the list are my two fatherless grandchildren.  Davey was such a great dad!  His death has left a huge hole in their lives that will never be filled.

I could go on and on about all of the things I don’t like about this situation.  I have an endless list in my brain of things I would change if I could –

if I was God.

Which I’m not.

And that reminds me that God could change my situation if he wanted to.  He has total control – and I mean total.  I’ve been following his directions – listening and obeying – so I know that I am here because this is God’s plan for me.   This is my purpose.  This is the path he has given me.

I need to find contentment here.

I am convicted about this as I read the historical account of the Israelites in Egypt as they travel through the desert.  God provided food for them every day without fail.  ‘Every family had just what they needed.’  But the Israelites struggled with this all through their journey – they wanted more, they wanted something different.  They never found contentment even though God provided – every day.

I don’t want to be like them so I’m going to trust that God knew what he was doing when He put me on this path.  I will remember that God is providing strength and love and purpose for my life every day.

Somehow, I must find contentment in these circumstances – this is where God wants me to be.

That’s not going to be easy.

Miss you, Davey.

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.

A Tough Question

It never used to be a tough question….but it is,

now.

When someone who doesn’t know me asks me, “Do you have any children?” my brain now goes through a whole series of decisions.  My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  So my answer to this question has drastically changed.

It used to be my favorite question to answer but now it’s become complicated.  Do I want to get into the whole story?  I have to get into some of it.  How much of it do I want to share?  I love talking about Davey but I don’t like to share a lot of details about his death with strangers.  I never know which emotional buttons will be triggered and having tears roll down my face is not a great ice breaker as I’m getting to know people.

“Do you have any children?” should be an easy question to answer but it has become a difficult one for me.  If my emotions are running high, I’ll just talk about my daughter and son-in-law and daughter-in-law and then jump into all the great things about my grand darlings.  That usually distracts people and they don’t ask anything about my son.  Some people are naturally curious and like to know details – details I don’t want to get into.   These are situations where I say, “It’s tough to talk about.” and leave it at that.

I have no problem talking about Davey with people who knew him.  We share stories and smile.  We remember good times together.  Some of the stories still bring the tears but they are good tears from great memories of an awesome person.

My heart yearns to go back to when Davey was here.  My brain knows I can’t but my heart feels the hole, the huge empty spot in my life.  This is the place where my tears come from.  This is the place that is often touched when I’m asked, “Do you have any children?”

I met one father who said he had a daughter in Phoenix, a son in New York and another son in heaven.  Interesting.  I like it.  Because it’s current.  Davey is in heaven right now.

I think I’ll start using that answer because it doesn’t touch the big empty spot in my heart.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

What Could We Do?

What could we do with $1,000?

We were recently asked this question when applying for a grant to help fund the David Glasser Foundation Sports programs.

This is our answer –

With a grant of $1000 we can change the lives of 10 kids.  These kids live in one of the highest crime areas of Phoenix.  One or both of their parents are in jail so they live with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or friends.  They come to the first day of school with no backpacks and no supplies because the people they are staying with are struggling just to keep shoes on all of these growing kids.  These are the ‘extra kids’.  These are our kids.
Our ‘extra kids’ work hard at school, always doing their homework and assignments.   They  behave in class, wanting to learn as much as they can, and they try to help other kids learn, too.  They don’t understand why some of the kids are messing around and pretending to be sick so they don’t have to come to school.  Don’t they understand that they need to be smart in order to get ahead in the world and get out of this neighborhood where so many bad things happen?
Our ‘extra kids’ often feel like they don’t belong anywhere.  They see the flyers around school for the David Glasser Foundation Basketball league but they could never ask the people they live with to spend that kind of money on them.   These kids love basketball – they love all sports and want to grow their skills in any and all of them.  They hear some of the other kids at school talking about the league’s Wednesday basketball practices where the coaches really make them work them hard but its fun.  The kids that are part of the league also talk about other things they learn – like respect, dependability, and teamwork.
Our ‘extra kids’ know that the league is named after a Police Officer who was killed in their neighborhood while he was working to help make it a safer place to live.  They understand that David Glasser made a difference.  Our kids dream of making a difference in this world as well, they just aren’t sure how that is ever going to happen.  There are days that they are very discouraged by their situations and they don’t know if all of their hard work is worth it because nothing seems to be getting better.
But that all changed the day they received a scholarship letter from the David Glasser Basketball League!  The letter said they were chosen to receive a full scholarship for the league because of their excellent behavior and participation in their classes.  They were being awarded for their consistently positive contribution to their school community.  Their hard work was paying off!  They were in!  This is what they had been dreaming of.
Now they belonged.  Now they were being challenged to be the best basketball player they could be as well as the best person they could be.   Their team felt very special – different from just a regular team.   Was that because their league was named after a man who really cared about their neighborhood and proved it by his actions?
Their head coaches, who were their PE teachers, gave them a high-five every day when they saw them.  Their coaches really saw them and were interested in them –  often mentioning a great play they made in the game last Saturday.
They are no longer just  ‘extra kids’.  Now they are part of the David Glasser Basketball league and on their way to making a difference in their community.
#8144loveyou

 

I Wish

I wish I had had a role model in my Junior and Senior years of high school of a young person who loved people and loved their city enough to risk their life to help keep it safe.  Someone who, at a young age, decided to be an active part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I’m sure there were people around like that when I was in high school but I never heard about them.

This is one of the reasons I spoke with the Moon Valley High School’s Police Science Class this week.  I wanted to tell them about my son, David Glasser, a Moon Valley HS graduate who became a Phoenix Police Officer and was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  They needed to know that he, and other young people like him, start making choices in high school that put them on the path to make a real difference in our community.

A big difference.

Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen – these high schoolers are not too young to decide to become part of the solution.  Thank you to Steve Wams, their instructor, for giving me an opportunity to speak to these kids and for being their role-model every day in class.  High Schoolers have so much potential and so many possibilities ahead of them.  Choices surround them – good and bad.

Their choices – and our choices – help determine the road we travel through this life.  The road I now find myself on is very challenging but I’m determined to learn what I can as I experience the bumps, bruises and twists of this journey.

That’s another reason I spoke with the class.  I’ve learned some life-changing lessons since May 2016.  Before Davey’s death, when I looked down the road to the future, Davey was always there.  When I look to the future now, it looks extremely different.  Great memories and his legacy is still here but, every day, I miss his smiling face, his jokes, his constant planning to have fun and the flow of love that came from him.

I’m so glad he said that last ‘love you’ to me – it has made this struggle easier to bear.

Having been on this planet many decades, you would think I would know all about love.  Right?  Wrong.  The things I have learned about love these last 2 1/2 years surprise me.  I never expected them.  I’ve been a Christ-follower my whole life and I have seriously studied love and God’s love.  But I’ve never experienced the supernatural power of people loving people until Davey died and we all joined together to continue his legacy of love.  When we rise up together over our self-centeredness, magic happens.  When we join our hearts in spite of our differences, love changes things.

It’s one of the things I was excited to get to share with the kids on the Police Science class at Moon Valley.  Actually, the Fire Science class also packed into the room so we had wall-to-wall kids who heard that they could really improve this world they live in when they choose to love.

Davey did it.  Others have done it.  Now it’s their choice.

And it’s our choice.

What do we choose?

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Where’s Your Net?

We all need one – a network of people around us who support and love us and pray for us.

I’ve got a strong one.  My network is filled with family and friends – old and new – who care about me and want the best for me. Thank you!  You encourage me and love me.  You listen to me and forgive me.  You try to understand me, try to be patient with me and do a good job of putting up with me when I need it.  You make me smile and you make me laugh.  You bring happy tears to my eyes as you hug me and tell me you love me for the thousandth time.

Love you!

Growing up, I never realized the importance of Framily.  Framily are friends who are as close or even closer to you than family.  Looking back, I can see that my parents had a few friends who were framily to them, but my mother was the youngest of sixteen children so we were mainly surrounded by tons of aunts and uncles and cousins.  Hundreds of them.  Time for framily was limited.

After getting out of the Army, I drove all of my belongs down to Phoenix where I had never visited and knew no one.  I was in search of the sun.  After growing up in the Iowa winters with mountains of snow and months of frozen noses and a summer that was defined by 3 weeks of painful humidity, I wasn’t going to stay there.  Needless to say, I’ve gotten lots of sunshine these past 38 years.

I knew nobody when I came to Phoenix but I had learned from moving around in the military that there are good people wherever I went.  I started attending ASU where I knew I would get to meet a lot of people.  I made some friends, fell in love and married my husband.  I still keep in touch with several friends who were in my life from back then.

Many of my treasured framily come from being active in Christ’s Community Church in Glendale for 28 years. Church is a great place to find a framily.  I have very important relationships that began there and bloomed through the years.  Our children were brought up in that spiritual family and several of their church friends became their own framily.  My children’s framilies are still a priority in their lives.  Davey’s framily from that time are an integral part of the support network for his wife and children.  Several of them are at the core of creating and running the David Glasser Foundation.

In the last 2 1/2 years, members of my Blue Family have also become framily – especially Davey’s squad and their wives.   We have gone through hell together and that creates a unique bond that we will always share.  As a framily, we are supporting each other and working together to continue Davey’s legacy of love through the David Glasser Foundation.

In the craziness that defines our culture today, ya’ gotta have a net.  Do you have one?

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

 

When He Does Not

This is a tough one.  It has taken me awhile to come to ‘a good place’ on this topic.  It has taken me even longer to be willing to share it.

God could have saved my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  God is everywhere and he knows everything and he can do anything.

Nothing is impossible for him.

So, no matter what any doctor said, God could have saved Davey.

That night in the hospital, my husband and I walked up and down the hall outside of Davey’s room praying for a miracle and asking everyone we saw to pray for a miracle.  It was our only hope.

When Davey’s brain waves disappeared early the next morning,  we understood that we were not going to get that miracle.  Extremely heartbreaking.  Too hard.  Our lives blown apart.  Overwhelming grief and pain.  Such a sudden, big, sad hole in our lives.

I wanted to ask why but I already understood that the answer was not to ask “why’ but to trust God.  I already knew the historical account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who role-modelled this thousands of years ago.  Right before King Nebuchadnezzar was about to throw them into a blazing furnace because they would not worship him, the three men testified to the king and the watching crowd that their God was able to save them.  “But even if he does not, ” they stated, they weren’t going to worship the king.  They trusted God to either save them or let them die – whichever accomplished God’s purposes here on earth.

They were declaring that – even if God did not give them a miracle – they were going to trust him.  In their story, they received a miracle and walked out of the blaze without a scratch on them.

That’s not my story.  We did not get a miracle.  I will probably never totally understand the purpose of this terrible tragedy this side of heaven.

But I will trust God and move forward in obedience until the day he calls me home.

Jesus told all of us that in this world we will have many trials and sorrows……and this one is at the top of my list.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou.

It’s the Most Difficult Time of the Year

The struggle is very real.  It’s not the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ for many of us.

I never gave much thought about how difficult Christmas can be for some people…..until 2 years ago.

David Glasser, my son who was a Phoenix police officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  And nothing will ever be the same.

Christmas is now a bitter-sweet time for me and my family.  The hole that Davey left in our lives is big and it is growing bigger as the years and the things he has missed add up.  He had such a huge and fun personality that his loss has created craters of pain in my heart.  This causes my emotions to go up and down without any notice of impending tears.  I was not normally an emotional person before Davey’s death but now I am resigned to the fact that, especially during this Christmas season, I rarely get through a day without at least a sheen of tears in my eyes from something that reminds me of what we have lost.  Other situations bring much more tears as different aspects of Christmas prick the broken pieces of my heart.

Then there are days when the joy of memories of Davey during Christmas flood my life and I am so grateful for the 34 1/2 years we had him here.  I am reminded of the young boy who loved Christmas who grew up to be a young man who still loved all the fun of Christmas.  His last couple of Christmases were filled with parties and special times with his young children.  Of course he was asked to host his squad’s Christmas party – he was the party person with a party house.

It makes me smile to remember the many, many great Christmases we had with Davey.

And then tears roll down my face with the knowledge that there will be no more.

I think Christmas is an especially hard time because we are all expected to be happy.  We’re supposed to be looking forward to the jolly times we will have during the Christmas season.  I am.  But I am also very aware that a very special person who filled my life with love and smiles will not be here this Christmas….or ever again.

And I now understand that it is not all fun for a lot of us during Christmas.  I have become more sensitive to the pain in my family, friends and neighbors eyes who are experiencing grief and loss this Christmas.  Our smiles are a little more forced and tempered by a cloud of remembering better times.  Before.

All of this can add up to Christmas being one of the most difficult times of the year.for many of us.

That’s sad, isn’t it.  What can we do about it?

We can live up to Davey’s legacy and love each other well – especially during this time of year.

Miss you, Davey

#8144loveyou

It’s Supernatural

I’m sure I’ll be saying this the rest of my life so don’t be surprised if you hear this from me again.  I’m still a little amazed by how much I have learned about love these last 2 1/2 years since David Glasser, my son who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.

I’ve been on earth quite awhile and I’m a believer, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend, so I thought I knew a quite a about love.  But I had never before experienced the ‘magic’ that can happen when people love each other in the middle of a tragedy that has blown all of our lives apart.

It has convinced me that love is the answer.   Love is supernatural.

I’m surprised that there is so much more to love that I thought.  I’ve studied love – our love for each other and God’s love.  One of the books I read, “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman helped me learn how to improve in how I show love to my husband, my children and other important people in my life.  If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out on some very helpful information.

We have different ‘love languages’.  I had figured out my love language all on my own early in my marriage.  My husband was great at saying, “I love you” but I often didn’t feel very loved when he didn’t help me with the laundry or cleaning or emptying the dishwasher.  So I told him that he could say he loved me all he wanted, but I didn’t ‘feel’ it unless he was also helping me with all these other things.  I’m glad to say that he got much better at helping me and I began to feel his love.  Later, when I read this book, I realized my love language is ‘Acts of Service”.

What I hadn’t figured out before reading the book was the fact that other people have different love languages.  After I read it, I realized my husband had two love language – Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.  So I adjusted my behavior to try to make sure he was feeling loved as well.

What is significant is the fact that, before reading this book, I thought he felt love like I did so I did things to show I loved him.  I helped him out as much as I could.  That was fine, but that’s not how he felt loved.  He felt loved when he spent time with me and when I point out good things about him with words.

We miss the mark when we show love the same way we feel love.  We are all different.

And our children are different.  I realized one of Davey’s love languages was ‘Receiving Gifts’ when he was about 7 or 8 years-old.  Gifts at his birthday and Christmas were very important to him.  He studied the gifts under the Christmas tree, counting them and trying to figure out what they were.  I was not surprised last weekend when I found Micah, Davey’s son, doing the same thing in front of my Christmas tree.  Similar personalities often have similar love languages.

“Receiving Gifts’ was just one of Davey’s love languages – it was a visual representation of people’s love for him.  This love language was more prominent when he was young.  As he grew older, his other love language of ‘ Quality Time’ became more obvious.  Davey led a very busy life spending time with people he loved.  He was always planning the next trip, the next tailgate, the next party – whatever it took for him to spend time with people he loved.

If he loved you, you knew it.

Let’s all make that our goal this Christmas – to make sure the people we love know and feel that we love them.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Here are some pictures of Davey’s 16th Birthday party.  The party was obviously “mom’s” idea.  Even though everyone was a little ‘too cool’ for a birthday party, Davey loved being surrounded by his friends.

It’s a Precious Gift

Hope.

Hope is the knowledge that there are good things coming.  It’s a light shining in the darkness of our current circumstances.

It’s one of the most important gifts that can be given to someone who has just experienced a tragedy.

My memory of events immediately after May 18, 2016 are somewhat foggy and there are holes.  That was the day David Glasser, my son who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.  There is a haze of pain and grief over all of my memories of that time.  But there are also many bright spots that shine through the haze and two of the shining spots I remember are gifts of hope.

I was reminded of the first gift when our good friend, Chaplain Bob Fesmire, stopped by our house last week to give us a very special gift for Christmas.  It’s a beautiful advent wreathe which Bob handmade for us.  Exquisite!  It has already become a family heirloom which we will pass down within our family.  We lit the first candle for the first week of advent last Sunday with Micah and Eden.

The first candle represents hope so we talked about hope with our grand darlings.  I don’t think its a coincidence that the first week of this marvelous advent wreathe given to us by Bob represents hope.  Because he gave me hope during the long night in the hospital as we watched Davey’s brain waves disappear.  Chaplain Bob prayed for us and loved us, helping us stay grounded in the love of God through the very painful night.  He gave me hope as he reminded me of the truth of God – that he loves us and would walk closely with us down the extremely tough path that was before us.  Chaplain Bob provided a spark of hope in a night that was filled with hopelessness.  Thank you, Chaplain Bob.

I was recently reminded of another bright spot of hope that shone through the pain and confusion of those first few days after Davey was killed.  The day after we came home from the hospital, we had to start planning the funeral.  I offered to have the discussion at my house and expected 4 to 5 officers to show up.  We actually had more like 15 to 20 officers coming and going throughout this process of planning our part of the funeral.  It was chaos – especially for people who were in shock over what had happened the last 2 days.  I understand that it had to be done because so much planning goes into these funerals.  The word ‘totally overwhelmed’ doesn’t do a good job of describing the feelings I had during those several hours.

Right at the end of the planning, Angela Harrolle, the CEO of the 100 Club came and presented a check to Kristen to help with any financial needs that might come up in the near future.  Angela shared that her husband had been killed in the line of duty 7 years before and her children had been around the same age of Davey’s children were when their father was killed.  That’s when I started staring at her.  She was the first family member I had met who had gone through what we were going through.

She looked healthy and happy.   At a time when I didn’t know if I would ever smile again, she smiled when she spoke of her children.  She was also the CEO of the 100 club.  She had figured out a way to move forward from the tragedy and she was working hard to help others.

Angela gave me a gift that day.  I remember saying to myself, “If she can do it, we can do it.”   There was hope.  Thank you, Angela.

There is always hope.

We are reminded of that when we light the first advent candle.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou