This is a sad post. I’m sorry. It’s where my head is right now.
Almost 2 years ago, on February 22, 2009, I came into work that Monday morning to bad news. I walked in through the back door, into our breakroom, and my co-worker said, “Hi, did you hear about Mike G.? He was killed yesterday.”
I stood there in shock. I still had my sunglasses on, bags in hand, jacket on. I had only just said hello. To be bombarded with that news as I walk in the door is very disconcerting. I don’t think my co-worker knew that Mike and I had become friends, as well as co-workers, or maybe he would have broken the news more gently. I hope he would have. I didn’t say anything and walked to my desk, sat down and opened my email. I had received an email from our VP in Washington DC telling us that Mike, a co-worker and friend in the DC office, had been hit by a car walking home from his girlfriend’s house early Saturday morning. Whoever hit him left him laying in the street to die. Before he died he sent an empty text message to a co-worker. Trying to get help, we assume.
Last year, 2010, February 21 was a Sunday. I had thought about Mike that day. Remembered it was a year from his death. I had wondered how his mom was doing. I wondered what happened to the guy who hit Mike. I had heard it was a delivery truck making morning deliveries to a shopping center and he hit Mike as he came barreling out of the parking lot. He confessed, I think. It was an accident. Of course he didn’t mean to do it and he panicked and drove away. I never heard what he was charged with.
That Sunday night we put the kids to bed and we were thinking about watching a movie. The phone rang and I looked at the caller ID and told the hubby that it was his mom and he answered it. We were in a happy mood. Then I heard him say “WHAT? WHAT?” in that voice. You know, that shock and disbelief voice. I immediately put down what I was doing and sat forward on the couch. I could tell something was wrong. He was listening to his mom. Finally he looked at me and whispered, “The Sheriff’s office is telling Liz that Adam is dead.” He got off the phone when his mother said that Liz was calling back on the other line. Liz is my husband’s sister and Adam was her husband of 15 years.
We waited. We cried. We waited and cried some more. After about an hour we called my husband’s brother and, from him, we got most of the full story. The rest would come out in the following days.
Adam was a Portland Police Officer. For the past several years he was a Criminalist, so he wasn’t on patrol – where he would be in the most danger. What a relief it was when he became a Criminalist.
Adam had worked that Sunday and was on his way home from work. He had spoken with Liz on the phone a few times. He stopped to pick up a pizza on his way home. He also stopped to rent a movie. He was within 1/4 mile of their home when the accident occurred. A garbage truck had stalled in a driveway and was rolling back into the road with no lights on. Adam slammed right into the back of the truck. They think he died instantly.
Liz tried calling him and heard his Bluetooth pick up. She heard two men talking, heard them say Adam’s name and date of birth. Liz, having been married to a cop, immediately knew that Adam was involved in something. She thought maybe he had inadvertently became involved in a crime as an off-duty police officer – a shooting, a burglary, etc. Then the Sheriff’s office came to her door with Adam’s wallet, cell phone, and badge.
Adam and Liz were married for 15 years and had two sons, ages 14 and 11 now. As we are approaching the anniversary of his death it is difficult to look back and remember those days. Though heartbreaking, those days were filled with love. My in-law’s and one brother-in-law flew to Portland early the next day. The rest of us drove over a few days later to be there for the funeral. Their house was filled with family and friends from morning till night. Flowers, food, prayers, etc. The outpouring of support was incredible.
The funeral was an unbelievable affair. Immeasurably touching. Graveside services with an honor guard and then a police escort to the church for a memorial service. The police escort was so impressive and touching. They stopped traffic on the Portland freeways for us to pass. We had about 6 police cars and motorcycle cops in our motorcade and the others were going ahead and stopping cars getting on the on-ramps and stopping cars on the freeway in anticipation of our route. I cried as a drove.
The police chief spoke at the funeral of Adam’s character, strength and dedication. That she knew he would lead the Criminalist department one day and, in practice if not in title, he did already. He was the exemplar for the team.
There’s audio of and pictures of the service here. Specifically the Police Chief’s address.
I’m astounded and in awe of my sister in law. She has been so strong, so smart, so faithful in her grief and support of her children. Her faith in God has given her so much comfort; in her heart, she knows that Adam has gone to Heaven and she will see him there someday. My in-laws were just as devastated; Adam was their other son. They are flying to my sister in law’s house today to be with her and the boys on the first anniversary of his passing.
My grief was and is profound for Liz and the boys. I have two sons; I couldn’t help but put myself in her shoes. How would I feel if this happened? My husband and I talked a lot about that in the days and weeks after Adam’s passing. What would we do if something happened to one of us? We keep Adam’s picture on our fridge as a daily reminder of what we can lose in an instant.
February 21 sucks.
6 days later, on Feb 27, 2010, my husband’s cousin lost her 27 year old Marine husband as well.
It was a very dark time.