WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
Yesterday, a man was murdered.
He was a deputy sheriff–the first from our town to be shot and killed while on duty.
A man, it appears, had been placed in a mental facility for involuntary evaluation. He escaped. How? I’m not sure, and I’ll leave that to those who are to respond to; I’m trying my best to resist the natural inclination of wanting someone to blame.
After killing the deputy, the shooter was shot and killed. But the deputy, who left his wife and two young daughters yesterday morning to go to work, just as he’d done so many other mornings, is still dead. And it’s on him and his family that my thoughts are focused.
It’s a senseless tragedy. Like so many. Senseless, tragic, yet very real people suffer the consequences. In this case, harsh ones. Unearned ones. Life-altering ones.
This deputy was young–only thirty-three. His wife, also young, is now a widow. Their two daughters face an entire lifetime without their father.
I can’t help but to think back through my life at the profound impact my father had on me, on shaping my thoughts and opinions and values. How often we shared long, powerful conversations on every topic under the sun. We talked life, death and universe. We talked people, and understanding them. We talked challenges and overcoming them. We talked and talked and talked.
He led by example. He loved many things and through our chats, I came to know what he did and did not tolerate and why. What he respected and admired, and what he considered callous and cruel. I learned about forgiveness and compassion, looking outward and within. He greatly influenced my view of the world, my view of myself and those around me. As I write this, I experience again that special bond between father and daughter that is too complex to be described with mere words.
And I think of his girls and the bond they won’t have the opportunity to develop with their father. Of this young mother, who now will have to assume all roles for herself and her young children. Every responsibility she now faces on her own. I think of the challenges and joys she won’t share with the one mortal man who most loved her, who loved those children as much as she does. The special moments they won’t share. The life that they were building is gone, forever, and neither she nor her girls nor this man can ever get it back.
I think of them and this senseless tragedy and I weep.
He was a Christian; his eternal future is free from trials and tribulations and pain. There’s solace in that. Though I’m sure as certain given a choice he would have waited to live his eternal life and first lived this mortal one with his family.
His family. In so much pain. Grief is merciless, mourning so indescribably horrific.
Though many surely try and would if they could, no mere mortal can ease that kind of suffering. The best any of us can do is to do what we can to look after his family, and to seek higher authority on their behalf, turning to He who can comfort and heal their shattered lives and broken hearts.
Today, I pray for them, for that comfort and healing, and for peace that I know right now seems so far away. Oh, to be able to grasp it and give it to them! I can’t, but I’m so thankful I know He can, and that as surely as I am, He holds them in the palm of His hand.
And then there is the shooter’s poor family. More pain and suffering. More tumultuous emotions ripping them apart. They too are hurting, regretting, grieving. They too need comfort and healing, and I’m grateful to know that they too are in His hands.
If you’re of a mind to pray, please remember these folks.