Re-opened Wounds…

broken heart

I’ve prayed for this time to hurry up and get here.  The time in which I could finally start to “heal,” and my life could somewhat return to “normal.” I’ve attended numerous pre-trials, to the point, for lack of a better description, the courtroom almost seems like a “normal” aspect of my life. Yet, the closer I come to Tuesday, the more terrified I become.

I’ve spent the past week worrying about how in the world I was going to survive days of sitting and listening to HOURS of testimony, pieces of evidence, and arguments from both sides.  After Jason’s death, I was able to escape for a moment if needed. I could change the topic, walk out of the room, or simply “zone out” into my own thoughts and feelings.  However, 9 months later, as I prepare to walk into a courtroom where I will be bombarded for hours a day with information about Jason’s death.  I simply can’t say that I am ever going to be ready for that.  Who could ever be?  How can I prepare myself for the evidence we will see, the testimony we will hear, the act of witnessing Jason’s family and friends have their wounds re-opened and all of their emotions exposed all over again.

In the last 9 months, I’ve worked very hard to “heal” those wounds as best as possible. Although, rationally I know there will be no time in which they are completely healed.  There will always be tender spots, or small cuts that never heal.  The wounds that do close, are scared over and jagged.  They aren’t small perfect little incisions.  I envision my body, my heart, to be covered with wounds of all sizes- small little jagged ones from each time my heart jumps when I unexpectedly see a picture of him, huge ones that with raw spots all in them from every night when I hear, “I miss my daddy,” or “daddy used to play with me like this…you’re doing it wrong.”  I know my body will always metaphorically be covered in wounds. And the more I’ve prayed for this day to get here, the more I thought with certainty I’d be ready- that the wounds would be healed enough where I could handle the trial. My thought process was that once some of the wounds have healed a little, and they aren’t quite so open and exposed, that maybe it would be easier.

Let me tell you, I was wrong. Actually, it’s tremendously worse to have these wounds ripped back open, and the worst part is each time it’s unexpected.  I had psyched myself up to believe that I could somehow make it through trial without re-opening wounds.  I guess, maybe it was my way of coping until I could no longer ignore the facts any longer, and I had to face the realization that trial will tear open all those wounds, and expose my emotions, feelings, and darkest thoughts in ways that I could never prepare for.  For those of you who know me well, you know I can’t stand to spill my emotions everywhere- yet, there’s no escaping from it occurring in trial.  And, at the start of this week, I was beyond angry that here we all were once again, wounds exposed, desperately missing our: husband, son, daddy, brother, uncle, brother in blue.  And as my thoughts continued to sink further down into the deep abyss of negativity trial has brought upon my thought process, something remarkable was happening outside of the “deep dark abyss.”

Every tear shed, or ill-spoken word that tumbles out of my mouth before I can remind myself the true source of my anger, are exemplifications of more wounds opened, and more raw emotions being exposed.  And, it’s come to a point where I simply feel that there really isn’t a place on my body: both inside and out, that isn’t covered in a wound from Jason’s death.  Yet, as I was sinking into my dark abyss, God was trying to open my eyes to the love that surrounds me: supports me, and lifts me up even when I have no idea it’s really being done.  For each wound that has been re-opened in the past few weeks, God has placed a blessing, both small and large, in my life.  And, as I began to open my eyes more to each blessing, the more I realized how God was choosing to answer my prayers.  I had prayed for the strength to handle this trial with dignity and grace, and the ability to walk out feeling we had completed everything possible to ensure justice was served. I guess I wasn’t sure how I expected God to provide me the amount of strength I needed, but if you asked me to envision it and describe how I felt God would answer my prayers, I could never in a million years come close to describing to you all of the blessings of the past few weeks.

I will not be able to cover each of them, but I’d like to list some of these blessings for you.  In hopes that maybe they will prompt you to look for your own blessings, and that they will serve as reminders when I am re-reading blogs next week as I reflect on the last 9 months of my life.

  1. Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line was okayed from Officers Down 5K Foundation to host the first ever Texas Officers Down 5K.  And not only that, we met with the city officials, and they are beyond excited.  The amount of recognition this event will bring to fallen officers and their family’s sacrifice still humbles me and brings tears to my eyes.  Within a matter of 2 days, our event was shared on MAJOR law enforcement organizations who service the entire state of Texas.  Each share, like, comment, and click that said “I’m going to this event,” broadened my smile, and helped me focus on a blessing for a moment instead of another wound that had just been opened.  We are so blessed to have Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line grow so quickly, and to receive such support in a short amount of time.  I asked God for affirmations a while back that this organization was my calling, and let me tell you, He hasn’t let me down yet.  Affirmation, after affirmation.
  2. As we continued through the week, more and more businesses volunteered to somehow help raise money for the scholarship fund.  This fund is a vital key to my goal of bettering our community.  It’s an investment in the lives of future peace officers, parole officers, crime scene investigators etc.  Which each investment we make, we are slowly instilling in these young people a belief that their community backs them, and hopefully when the time comes, these students will chose to start their careers here. Then they will raise families, and create an established career.  Those veteran officers will then become the training officers for our rookies.  And the cycle of community pride and service will continue.  And with each business who offered to support, I began to believe again that there was a greater purpose to be served through Jason’s death.  I begin to be reminded that the justice we pray will be served won’t be the “end” of remembering Jason and other fallen officers. Instead, it will be the beginning.  And I have been blessed with the means to ensure that this is just the beginning.
  3. I ended this week with the first ever fundraiser Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line held for the scholarship fund.  We had a pancake breakfast this morning, and I walked around to as many tables as possible, thanking them for their support.  My goal was to remind them how they were all blessings in my life, and all examples of affirmation of my calling.  As I talked to each person, I heard story after story about how Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line, or an officer, me, or one of my ladies had somehow touched their lives.  I heard how what WE are doing is exactly what our community needs.  And, while I was walking around today, speaking to people, I can tell you for the first time in a while it seemed like those wounds were gone- if only for a few hours.  In those few hours, I was surrounded by a tremendous group of ladies who would do anything in the world to help me remember Jason and other fallen officers.  I was lifted up by community members who took time out of their days to come by and remind me of their support.  And even better, we raised over 1,200 dollars for the scholarship fund today. And while when I left the wounds came back, I’m armed with more blessings to combat them.
  4. There are almost 50 new likes today alone for the Facebook page: The Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line, and I can’t even begin to describe the love I feel when I see pink behind the thin blue line as so many people’s profile pictures.  I can tell you that my ladies in my group have surrounded me, lifted me up, and shared my story with so many already. I look forward to ending each stressful day at trial with scrolling through the Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line Facebook page and seeing all of my supporters wearing their ribbons!  I am still in awe at the love I feel.  I know so many of you can’t be there in person, but I assure you, God is allowing me to feel your love and your prayers!  Jason’s memory is alive and EACH of you are honoring it as we walk this line to justice!

I know these don’t even begin to describe all the blessings from just the past week, but I want you to know I couldn’t have asked for my prayers to be answered in a more perfect way. For 9 months I have walked through a daily storm, and each day this week, something happened, and for just a moment or for a few hours, it felt like I was in the calm.  After 9 months of walking though a storm, the breaks were beyond needed.

I know the weeks of the trial ahead are the hardest parts of Jason’s death I will probably have to endure. They will require more strength, faith, and grace than even the act of burying him did- but I serve a God who has placed so many people and blessings in my life that there is no doubt in my mind that even though I will be walking through the tornado in my storm, I will be surrounded and uplifted by thousands who are praying for me.  And, when I walk into the courtroom on Tuesday morning, I will have the most amazing friends and family who have dropped their entire lives to sit through those hours of agony with me.  And, they will have their lives forever changed, but they aren’t even blinking an eye, because they love me that much! And it is through them, and all of you that Jason’s memory will be alive and well during this trial!  And while we are in trial, all of you will be praying, and hoping, and supporting me in ways I might never know about, but I promise you I will feel.  Your support provides me strength.

As we enter trial week, I ask that you go and like the Facebook page: The Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line, and that you copy why we have changed our profile pictures, and that you will do the same.  I pray that you will help us spread the love and support for all fallen officer’s families.  And know, even though I won’t be able to post, my gratitude for each picture changed, prayer said, or messaged sent will never be expressible to you, but it’s appreciated beyond measure.  Thank you all for believing in Jason’s memory enough to support our cause, and for supporting me throughout the weeks of trial.

https://www.facebook.com/thepinkbehindthethinblueline?bookmark_t=page

Thank you all for loving my scared body: but know that you are a large part of the reason the wounds are slowly healing!

pbttbl logo with words

A Trip To San Antonio, A Vanishing Scale, and More Blessings In a Storm

For those of you who have followed me on Facebook, you know about my spur of the moment journey to San Antonio to pray with officer Deckard’s family. For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, I’ll briefly update you. For all of you, what you are about to read is one of the most humbling and grounding experiences I have had thus far in our journey since J’s death. I hope that the story I’m about to share and my reflections thereafter move you the same way they moved me. I pray that as you read this you too feel God’s presence in your life, and that you will feel a desire to give back as well.

Please note that I didn’t intend to share this trip with anyone. I didn’t want any recognition or praise for my decision. My posts on Facebook were merely to rally more prayers for a well-deserving wife and family. However, as the events of the day unfolded, it became increasingly evident that sharing was meant to be a part of this journey. So, please note, this isn’t a post designed to generate praise for my decisions, instead it’s a post designed to demonstrate the power of our God and how gratifying and rewarding it can be to follow His will.

So, here I was absent mindedly scrolling through my newsfeed while waiting for the cashier at Super One to finish my transaction. And, I happen upon a status update from 53 hours stating the condition of San Antonio Police Officer Robert “Bobby” Deckard’s condition wasn’t improving. As I read about his status, tears filled my eyes. I was reading a summary of injuries that mirrored those I heard from our own doctors 6 months prior. After finishing reading and rushing out of Super One, this urge to drop everything and go to San Antonio kept pulling at my heart. I texted a friend to see if she would tell me I was crazy to even consider dropping everything and driving 7 plus hours to San Antonio. I fully expected her to pacify my urge, but to tell me it was crazy. Well….she didn’t. And she didn’t because that trip to San Antonio was meant to be.
And so, I put away the cold items, as I attempted to get a hold of someone at SAPD. You would think getting to talk higher ranking officers would be more difficult…however it wasn’t. In a matter of 15 minutes I had arranged the trip with the family assistance officer who is helping the Deckards through this time. At this point, it’s obviously a God thing. For those of you who visited me in the hospital, you understand the tight security; however, I passed through it with flying colors. I packed our bags, and headed to San Antonio. On the way, I got a call saying my hotel reservations had been anonymously taken care of, and was told where to report for the night to ensure my safety. Let me just stop for a moment and say, there really are no boundaries to our blue family. As if I even needed validation of that!
Other than dropping off C, I drove straight through. I arrived at the hotel at exactly midnight. I checked in, showered, and spent what time I should have been sleeping, praying. If you can’t sleep…you might as well pray. How could I sleep? I just dropped everything, literally on my kitchen floor, and left my house, drove almost 8 hours non stop, and I found myself lying in the bed of a hotel room in San Antonio. I was in awe at my own decision. I tried to figure out what made me decided to come, but all that came to mind was I was in a way told to make the trip. I laid in bed for quite some time, and prayed. I prayed that somehow through all the pain I’ve experienced I could turn that experience into a comfort for his wife and family. That when I walked away from the hospital at the end of my visit, I could help create a blessing in someone else’s storm.

Throughout my visit, Officer Deckard’s condition didn’t change. The doctors seem to be nearing the end of the aide they can render, and at this point if he is to make through, it would be a “God thing.” I prayed as I waited to meet his wife Denise. And, I talked for awhile with his family. During my conversations with them, I couldn’t help but feel like maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I was imposing. Maybe I should have just remained at home and prayed. But, when Denise and I sat down to talk, the words just flowed out of my mouth. Our conversation lasted what seemed like only a few minutes, but apparently was an hour and a half. And throughout it we seemed to finish one another’s sentences, complete thoughts that the other struggled to find the words for, and shared feelings that everyone else would think were absurd. When I looked at Denise, I saw the same fear, anxiety, hurt, and exhaustion that I saw in my own eyes 6 months prior. I couldn’t help but revisit those fears and feelings. Honestly, as I drove to San Antonio, I doubted whether or not I was emotionally ready for what I was about to experience. As I looked into Denise’s eyes, and she finished my sentences, I knew this was where I should be.

I’ve said time and time again how I feel there is a purpose in J’s death. And each time I try to find that purpose, I always find myself saying, “Well, I don’t think God took J’s life JUST for that…” and I try to figure out what purpose would be worthy enough in God’s mind to take J from his family. I’ve struggled with my calling because even with all of the affirmations, I haven’t felt it was a “worthy enough” cause to take J away from his little boy. Each time I try to weigh out why it happened, my scale never balances. No matter how many reasons I place on the side to rationalize why God would have taken him, it just never seems to equal out.
Up until I looked into Denise’s eyes, and I saw her pain, and I felt it all over again in my own heart, did I finally realize why my scales weren’t balancing. It’s because I’m using the wrong scales. I’m using my own…my human rationalization, my human measuring increments when instead it’s not my place to measure out and attempt to balance it out. In my human mind, there will NEVER be a reason worthy enough to take J away from us, but in God’s mind there was. And, I know I may be opening a can of worms here by writing about this, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. And tonight, I won’t lie to you and tell you that I will always accept that at face value about J’s death.
scales
But, I can tell you that my impromptu trip today was a vivid reminder of my own calling. I know in my heart, I would have never have made that trip before J passed. I would have read the status, prayed a prayer, and went on with my life. I would have never had the courage or determination to make the trip. I struggle because sometimes I despise that J had to die in order for me to attempt to make a change in the world. But, I don’t know how else I would have ever found the courage and strength within myself to attempt. Here we go with those paradoxes again. I want answers and justification for his death. I want to know why…but the answers never appear on beautifully written cards in front of me. “Stephanie, J’s death was because I want…..to happen.” Instead, my answers come only if I follow the path He has set before me. Even if my human scales tell me my calling isn’t reason enough for J to be taken away from us…I simply have to keep walking down His path.
Tonight, as I lay in bed, when yet again I should be sleeping, I’m attempting to place my scales out of my mind. I’m attempting to accept that whatever the reason for J’s death, it’s justifiable in God’s greater plan. I won’t lie, accepting that idea is very difficult. And even after a life changing trip, I still haven’t fully begun to accept it, but the important part is I’m trying…I’m still walking.

When I left for San Antonio, I thought that maybe I’d possibly make a small difference in a wounded officer’s family’s life. That I would pray, and turn around and drive home. Boy…was I wrong. An 8 hour trip gives you a considerable amount of time for reflection. My time spent with Denise and her blue SAPD family was once again affirmation of my calling, but more importantly tonight for the first time in almost 9 days, I hope that Denise doesn’t feel alone in her waiting room of 30 people. I pray that she knows that even though our circumstances are tragic, that we are each other’s examples of blessings during our storms. Denise, if you ever read this, I pray that you feel how much of a blessing you were in my life today. Even though the topic of our conversation was tragic, our bond is an example of something on God can do. It was a moment I was meant to experience because it helped my grieving process as much as yours. Denise, thank you for being my reminder that I need to stop using my own human scales to justify God’s plans.
balanced scales
As I drove to San Antonio and tried to convince myself I was crazy, every single door was opened for me. And each door I drove through helped me erase just a small piece of my scale that I use to justify J’s death. Tonight, I lay here able to at least entertain the idea that it isn’t about my scale, and I pray that eventually that entertainment of an idea will give way to slow acceptance of it as well.
As you read this, I pray that you will identify what scales you use to try to justify behaviors or events in your own life. And that you too will find ways to began to erase that scale. When the scale vanishes or is almost invisible, is when you simply let go and let God. I’m a work in progress; my scale is still very much visible. However, now when I envision it, it’s missing a few pieces. Pray that it will continue to diminish. And, also, please say extra prayers for Officer Deckard and his family. Believe me, prayers are ALL they need at this point.

Rainbows in the Midst of a Storm!

Wow!  Simply wow!  That’s really all my brain is capable of saying at this point.  You all are simply amazing. Your support, your love, your prayers, your thoughts, your actions – all overwhelmingly amazing.  Yes, I know my nerdy English teacher self should have more accurate adjectives to describe my feelings at this point, but you all simply astound me. 

 

Today was a MUCH needed rainbow in the midst of our storm.  The last week has been one thing after another, and yesterday was our breaking point- both mine and C’s.  We had simply had enough.  Our therapists tell us that our “psyches are done protecting us, and think we can handle the acceptance of our reality.” Well, let me tell you something psyche- we could have used some forewarning!  The reality has set in that our lives are changed forever, and this week that just seemed like too much to bear.  I crashed up against my breaking point NUMEROUS times in the last week, and while I don’t always share in the moment with you all, I do try to be as honest as possible.  To say that the “what if” and the “why” questions haven’t been in my mind lately would be a lie.  And yet I continued to pray.  Yesterday, as I stood in the bathroom of the gym, crying because I simply was done in that moment, I prayed for some kind of rainbow, some reminder that this is my calling. That justice will be served, and that eventually this feeling of being robbed will diminish, if only by a little. I prayed to make this a little more bearable.  I prayed for reminders of my own strength.  But most of all, I prayed that God would continue to surround me with support.

As Wednesday progressed, I began to feel better. I regained my focus on the acts of kindness, and began organizing more.  And then, as I stood in line at Starbucks, working on another act in planning, I received a call from the Defense Attorney’s office.  At first, I’m sure I sounded scared.  A call from them always frightens me because I rarely know what to expect.  But, they delivered potentially good news.  They were going to bring the case back before the grand jury to try to up the charge to murder.  While this essentially still means the same potential amount of years for sentencing, it does however mean that there is a safety net involved. The process is complicated, and I won’t take the time to fully explain it; however, please know this is a WONDERFUL THING!  I was so excited in Starbucks, that I’m sure a few, well probably more than a few, people thought I might have lost my mind. 

 

I went home, and I prayed some more.  I prayed that somehow this would help erase some of my feelings of being robbed.  In my mind a murder charge is fitting for the crime committed- whether intentional in nature or not. The end result was death. And, I didn’t sleep much, so I just kept praying.  I felt that this rainbow was much needed right now!

 

Today we received a phone call that the grand jury ruled there was enough evidence for a murder charge.  And, I had to wait awhile before I could officially share with all of you.  But, let me say, when I did share,  I was overwhelmed with support.  You all rock!  Thank you for being a vivid part of our rainbow!  Watching as our support system grows of course helps me, but the wonderful part of the support system growing is the awareness we are raising.  How we are standing together as a community, and how together we are attempting to turn a negative into a positive.  Tonight, I as Facebook notifications, text messages, and phone calls were pouring in, I took a moment to re-read my first blog post after J’s death. And a paragraph struck me.  This week I have thought on more than one occasion how I might seriously be losing my mind by creating Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line, and putting myself out in the public more.  I thought that maybe this really wasn’t my calling.  Maybe, I should just grieve silently.  And then, as I was reading the post through a FEW blessings of interruptions J, this paragraph spoke to me:

“ We prayed some more, and we realized that if we don’t fight the battle who will? Giving in because the sacrifice was ‘too difficult’ or ‘too time consuming,’ simply wasn’t an option.  By giving in, we were letting them win.  And that simply wasn’t acceptable in our minds.  So the next day, I ironed his uniforms, he put on his vest, I kissed him goodbye and told him to be safe.  He responded with ‘always.’ And from that day forward, we never doubted his calling or level of sacrifice we had to make in order to ensure he continued his calling.  Being an officer was in his blood, and even though I didn’t know it for quite some time, it was in mine as well.”

 

Well, talk about rainbows!  Tonight, I am thankful for answered prayers for rainbows!  Tonight, I’m thankful for a team of attorneys who fight for J like he is their blood.  I am thankful for friends, family, and complete strangers who are like my family.  I’m thankful for God putting the right words in their minds.  I’m thankful for affirmation of my calling- once more.  I’m thankful for each person who recognizes me in public, even though sometimes that can become overwhelming, and who tell me that they are so proud I’m still fighting.  I’m thankful for reminders of J’s brothers in blue. I’m also thankful for the news of getting to witness one of our special brothers in blue get married and start a family!  Tonight, even though often times I feel like a victim- tonight, even if it is only for a little while, tonight I’m in control.  And you all have played such a LARGE role in that. Tonight, I am thankful for being called to be an officer’s wife.  Few people can do it, and even less answer their call, but those of us who do, are strong women.  We are women who look evil the face, and we stand on our own two feet.  But, thankfully, I do NOT stand alone!  So, thank you for allowing me to view this rainbow tonight, for YOU are the ones that are holding this rainbow up. 

Again,

“Every blessing you pour down I’ll turn back to praise.  When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say, ‘blessed be the name of the Lord.’”