Thursday, September 3, 2015
My Anthem: A Story of One Officer's Amazing Survival - Part 2
The Healing… Eight years later; WOW! It just seems like a dream ago. There’s not a day that goes by I do not think of my accident. It has been a life changing event. Some days I praise God I am alive. And sometimes I feel guilty of being the lone survivor.
I often reflect on the family who lost their loved one from driving under the influence. How many tears were shed, how many sleepless nights were there? In some ways I imagine the family suffered more than I; of the loss of a son, a brother, than I did from my injuries.
I had learned weeks later after coming home, where the driver was buried. I felt an obligation to make contact with the family. I located the pastor of the church, where the driver was buried. I told the pastor who I was, and explained my situation. That I was having a difficult time dealing with the life lost. I had requested if the pastor could put me in touch with the family, I gave him my phone number. A short time later I received a call. I do not know the identity of who I was talking to. I assumed it was a close family member. I told her of my grief, and that I would like to speak to the mother. She was very understanding. Within just a few minutes the mother called. I identified myself to her. I told her I wanted to see how she was doing; I could sense the stress and pain in her voice. She began to cry. I never thought I could be wounded with so many tear drops. She probably never expected a call from me. Not just as a Law Enforcement Officer, but as a concerned human being, offering a helping hand.
Days later, while visiting the grave site I noticed that his father had passed several years earlier. Father and son were once again together. Several months later I spoke again with the mother. We talked about her son, not knowing, this would be the last time we would ever speak again.
During my last visit on the anniversary date of the accident, in shock, I saw the mothers name on the headstone. She had passed earlier that year. I was frozen; I couldn't even come up with words for a prayer. I just knelt down in silence; I wondered if the mother ever healed of the loss of her son, or if she passed away with a broken heart. Till this day I have not found a way to escape my haunting memories. My nightmares keep chasing me down. They find me where ever I hide. I do find some comfort, knowing that the father, son, and mother, now rest in eternal peace, as a family, side by side. To me, the son lives on in my personal testimony.
I may never be able to surrender my memories, but I can definitely take a negative, and turn it into a positive. He lives on in my call to duty, our mission, together we will save lives. This is one of my most valued tools God has given me, I can offer in the line of duty so others may live. And like the story that had just begun, this story ends; death tore the pages all away.
God knows his name; no one can take his place. Sometimes I wonder who he'd be today; would he see the world? Would he chase his dreams, settle down with a family? I wonder, “What would be the names of his children? Some days, “Sometimes I Wonder”… “Rest in peace M.J.”
**About David … David has been married to his wife for 30 years; they have no children. David attended military schools and served in the United States Navy. During his second enlistment he found his calling. His career in Law Enforcement began in the fall of 1990 as a Detention Officer with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office. In 1993, he attended the police academy. He has worked for several agencies and puts his talents to work finding impaired drivers.
In 2007, he nearly lost his life when he was hit head-on by a drunk driver. Today, he still has physical pain, and there is not a day that goes by he does not think about his accident. David’s outreach varies from social media to speaking. When he speaks of his accident to others, it takes all of his strength to avoid showing emotions. He says that it is like standing on the edge of grace.
He has received multiple awards from Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD), Officer of the Year, Officer of the quarter, Certificate of Appreciation. MADD also presented him with an Outstanding Bravery Award (Nominated by Ellijay Police, Georgia) noting that it is because few officers return to the line of duty after such a horrific accident and injuries. During the awards presentation, David was honored with a standing ovation by representatives of The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Mothers against Drunk Driving, (ATTEN) Traffic Enforcement Network and the hundreds of law enforcement officers and invited guest. This was a most humbling experience for David in his career.
Over the months of recovery, David graduated from being in a wheel chair to a walker, crutches and walking cane. His first night back on patrol, 911 advised that a motorist had reported a possible drunk driver. David set up at an intersection to intercept the impaired driver. The impaired driver made an improper and deep left turn and was heading right towards David. He took defensive action to avoid another head-on collision by driving in reverse and escaped the path of the driver on the wrong side of the road. He turned around on the driver and made the traffic stop and arrest for DUI. “Without requesting assistance, officers that were on duty started to show up at the scene. It was their way of saying ‘welcome back’.
My Revelation... I have been afraid, been confused, and doubted everything I thought I knew. But I felt peace and I have been lost. I have got back on my feet thanking God above, because I know how it feels to walk out of a valley, how it feels to breathe the air that gives me life. I know the silence that comes with trusting and believing, and the darkness when the shadows hide the light. I know how it feels to survive. I have been alone, felt betrayed, did not know if I could stand another day. But I have found joy and I have had pain. Strength that gets me through one more day. Now I live with my eyes wide open and my heart is filled with gratitude. Because I know everything I have is borrowed. By the grace of God I know I will make it through…I know how it feels to walk out of a valley, how it feels to breathe the air that gives me life…