Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wake up! Wake up!

I woke up very early this morning with a memory that had been long resting in some recess of my mind. I awoke thinking about the deputy sheriff sitting in his lawn chair on the railroad tracks. In my mind's eye I could see him. I could even see the color of the chair, one of those metal chairs with the woven patterned prints for the seat and back. I could see the railroad tracks, the white gravel laying beneath the rusty colored metal. I could see the trees in the background.

Why was he on my mind?

I never knew much about Deputy Sheriff, only that he was a decorated officer in the county where my nephew, Logan, lived and died. I learned that Deputy Sheriff was an avid hunter and often hunted the woods near those railroad tracks. Local papers described him an experienced outdoors man and the people that knew him could not understand how this could have happened. According to local publications, there was to be an investigation into the incident.

Sometime in the spring after Logan died, after we had survived our first holiday under duress, after my brother Ray had secured custody of his only surviving child Rissa, after the intense fog of grief had only slightly lightened, we had put hope for justice in Deputy Sheriff.

I had lost count of the number of emails we had sent to various agencies, news outlets, social groups and even government agencies in hopes that someone would find the abuse of a child a crime. It seemed that no one really cared. Oh sure there were consistent expressions of sorrow and sympathy, but no where did anyone say "Hey, this isn't right, this is a crime. Someone needs to go to jail". Those were words we longed for. We desperately needed to somehow right this wrong.

It's odd how grief will throw you around like that suitcase in those old Samsonite commercials from back when I was a kid. I guess grief is the gorilla and the gorilla gets bored. There is just no proper way to describe how it makes you feel, how it leads you down one path, how it keeps you hungry for answers and thirsty for understanding. Grief is the intense August sun beating down on your soul. Before long you stagger through your days, drenched in your pain and loss.
Your only rest comes with sleep and that never goes on long enough.

I remember receiving the email from Ray about Deputy Sheriff. It was short and to the point. Ray said that he had heard from his attorney. Deputy Sheriff had been killed by a train while on a hunting trip with his father. Immediately we began searching the Internet for information regarding his death.

It was the big mystery in that small town where Deputy Sheriff had lived and died. Reports from the people driving the train indicated that Deputy Sheriff was seated in his lawn chair on the railroad tracks, he appeared to be sleeping. The man on the train blew the whistle several times but Deputy Sheriff never responded. The train ran over Deputy Sheriff killing him instantly along with Hope and Justice. We learned that Deputy Sheriff was only days away from presenting Logan's case to a Grand Jury.

We mourned for Deputy Sheriff and his family. What a horrible thing to happen to what appeared by all accounts to be a good, decent, honest man. I mourned for him, the family that loved him and for all those that would never know his dedication and service.

I mourned for Hope and Justice. I mourned for Logan. By now, my ability to mourn was just a numb mourning that felt like pain but did not hurt. Maybe after all we had been through, it did not hurt because it wasn't a surprise. Or maybe it didn't hurt because we still couldn't feel anything. I remember it being the exhale of resignation, too tired to plan, too damaged to fight, too wounded to beg one more person to do the right thing. We needed to heal. We needed to just heal.

Slowly and without saying a word, my family emotionally let go of Logan's hand and let him go.

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