I started the week with impossibly high hopes and goals. Rena and I found wonderful resources at the East Baton Rouge Parish library. We each checked out an armload of books ranging from memoir writing to screenplay writing, both areas we will be dabbling in later this year. We had a great planning meeting where we set our game plan for the week. I contacted a few more agents/publishers and she worked on her query letter and targeted a few agents for her Christian romance novel.
As the saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Since our marriage in June, I hadn’t been able to visit family members in our neighboring state of Mississippi. Something came over me and I felt compelled to take the hour-long ride to introduce my wife and to reconnect with the most important thing in the world, family. I sat up in bed at about 9:00 pm and told Rena that we were driving to Mississippi the next day. Even though visiting family wasn’t anywhere on our tight schedule, she agreed, as I knew she would. Even though I did what I was led to do, there continued to be something dark stirring in my spirit. I fought it as best as I could and tried to rest. I battle with insomnia nightly, but there was something different that I couldn’t put my finger on.
The next morning was business as usual. Rena made sure the kids made it onto their respective buses; we gassed up my truck and we began our journey at around
8:30 am. We were listening to the Kevin Smith ‘Fatman on Batman’ podcast when I received a text from one of my former coworkers at Probation & Parole. It was 9:03 am, and the message read – “Have you heard?”
I worked in law enforcement for almost ten years so receiving a message like that wasn’t a total surprise. Usually it’s followed by gossip about who was having an affair, who got arrested, who got fired or something of that nature. Something that morning was different, but I didn’t know why. I knew it was going to be something bad. I asked, “What?” and waited with my heart in my throat awaiting the response.
An officer that I worked with and knew well had committed suicide the night before.
I continued to ride but have no recollection of the second half of the drive. It was like I had just been knocked out and couldn’t understand what had just happened. The first question was why. What happened? I made a few calls and got some background and nothing filled in the pieces. He was at work earlier in the day. He never gave any indication that things were that bad. He was probably the last person that I would have thought would do something like that.
He was a friend, but not someone that I was particularly close to. We were partnered together during Hurricane Gustav and spent a lot of time escorting prison buses throughout the state. I remember the many conversations we had and wondered what was going on in his life that drove him to suicide. I cycled back and forth through the five stages of grief in a matter of minutes. From 9:05 am on Wednesday, I’ve felt a dark veil over my soul.
The funeral was Saturday. It was surreal seeing so many of my older friends under such dire circumstances. One of them asked, “He was in the book, right?”
The thought had crossed my mind the night before, but I didn’t tell Rena about it. Even though I wouldn’t have said he was someone I was very close to, he affected my life enough to show up in one of my books. My mind continued to race — the last three funerals I had gone to were for fallen P&P friends. You know what else? All three men were in Darker Than Night. My emotions flooded as I saw many of these people that touched my life in ways that I couldn’t comprehend at the time. As I introduced people to my wife, I told her their corresponding name of the character in my book when they walked off.
Thankfully, I was able to mend fences and reconnect with friends that I missed dearly. Though I’m working through this loss more slowly than I would have liked, I would implore anyone who reads this blog to stay encouraged. Everyday that we wake up, we have a chance to get things right. Don’t ever give up.
“Always tell someone how you feel, because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regret can last a lifetime.” – Unknown
Goodbye, my friend.