The Greatest loss Occurs When We Take Joy In Death While We Are Still Alive.

December 15, 2017

 

In the middle of the road lay the body of a man. He was a husband and father. He was an innocent person. Just an average man who went out on his motorcycle to get a bite to eat on his lunch break. Assuredly, when he left he had no idea this was one lunch break he would never return from. Because today was the day his life would come to an end.

 

Sitting on the curb mumbling to himself, was the man responsible for the man in the road’s death.

 

I did not know the man who lost his life that day, however, the one who was at fault I knew very well. I knew his first, last name and address by heart. This is a recognition that no one should ever strive for the police to have.

 

No long ago, the man sitting on the curb had made a left turn in front of the unsuspecting motorcyclist. The man who now lay dead was not speeding and obeying every conceivable law or safety precaution, just before he slammed into the passenger side of the turning vehicle.

 

Ironically, the man who is responsible was making a left turn was that he was trying to turn in to our Police Department.  The entire reason he was where he was that day was to make a feeble attempt at trying to avoid appearing in municipal court that very next day.

 

The man had been summoned to appear in court the following day because our agency had initiated the process to have his license revoked because he had committed so many previous traffic infractions,  we no longer felt it was safe for him to be afforded the right to legally drive.

 

Our primary eyewitness to the fatal traffic collision was a passenger in the vehicle that was responsible. The passenger, I too was with familiar with, as it had only been a week prior when I met her after someone called 911 because they say her defecate in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of the day.

 

Every person is indeed afforded the right of innocence until proven guilty. However, suspicion of guilt is an entirely different thing.

 

Based on my history with the person responsible and my interaction with the passenger upon our meeting over a pile of her steaming shit, I suspected her to be under the crippling grip of drug addiction; a tragic affliction that I suspected to have caused her to turn to prostitution in order to feed her illicit habit.

 

My belief that the man responsible was guilty of involuntary vehicular manslaughter was beyond suspicion in my mind, as the evidence was extremely clear.

 

Unfortunately, the man responsible did not share in my suspicion of his own culpability. Consistent with his entire reason for being where he was, when he was, he took no responsibility for his actions that caused an innocent man to lose his life.

 

“I’m sorry he’s dead, but it’s not my fault. I think he was speeding.”

 

I just stared blankly at the man as he said those words to me. Not even a glimmer of remorse was in his voice.

 

“How long is this going to take? Can I leave? Can any of you give me a ride home?”

 

Jarred from the typical stoic nature I try to maintain, even in the most stressful or emotional of situations, I looked at the man and said, “That gentleman lying there is dead. For reasons I truly cannot understand, you, on the other hand, are alive. Why don’t you sit down on that curb, enjoy the beautiful blue sky or clouds?" - " Enjoy the fact that you still are alive, while that innocent man over there no longer is afforded the same privilege.”

 

I’m not sure if this man ever looked at the sky and took in the natural beauty surrounding the tragic and morbid scene. However, as I watched the traffic fatality investigators marking off their measurements, I looked up at the sky and said,

 

“I truly do not understand you sometimes.”

 

I gathered my composure and prepared myself to make the journey to deliver the worst possible news one could imagine to the deceased man’s wife.

 

This was the scene I found myself at several years ago. It was not the first, and it would not be the last. It was just another tragic reminder of the senselessness that can surround sudden death.

 

Less than six months later I was off work and had just finished dinner with my family when my cell phone began to ring. At the time, the traffic unit and fatality investigators fell under my command and sanctity of my off-time was interrupted by one of the traffic officers notifying me they had been called in to work the scene of a fatal traffic accident.

 

For reasons that remain a mystery, the man who caused that fatal traffic accident only months prior had decided to cross a dimly lit stretch of highway, just past a slight hill as you come into our town’s city limits proper. The person who hit him, never saw him until it was too late.

 

Ultimately, this man’s decision to cross the road that night was his last and just like our previous encounter,  a poor decision on his part resulted in death. Only this time it was his own he would have to contend with.

 

I remember being very conflicted after I found out about the man’s death. It hadn’t even been a year prior that I had been confused and admittedly angry that he had survived and another innocent person had lost their life. I couldn’t understand why if someone had to die that day was it not him and not the other innocent man.

 

Yet now confronted with the news that the man I had once secretly wished death upon was indeed dead, I found myself dealing with the foughten emotion of discovering,  I found no joy in knowing this man had actually lost his life.

 

As I’m sure you can imagine, thoughts of vindication and karma danced in my head. Yet, even then when faced with the harsh reality of things, I felt like it wasn’t my place to decide one’s fate.

Ultimately, karma felt like a concept that was beyond my grasp and therefore how or when karma occurs was not my place to assume.

 

I have since reflected many times on that night and examined deep within my own mind to try and understand why was it that I saw no joy or celebration in a death I had once secretly wished would occur.

Very few people actually understand what death is.

 

Make no mistake; the tragedy of losing a loved one is something that can be a devastating. For those who suffer the loss of a loved one, their minds become echo chambers, where the memories of a one’s voice torment their thoughts. The scent of a person they will never see again will suddenly overcome them, and they anguish at the reminder that eventually, even the aroma of those who are departed will fade and be gone. Every single photograph on the wall will serve a cruel monument to conversations that will never again be had.

 

Honestly, I would never want anyone to think I would diminish the pain they have experienced from loss.

 

Yet all of these cruel and tormenting emotions are not fundamentally related to death. Rather, death in and of itself is universal, while mourning the loss of a loved one is dramatically specific and brings about agony to those who love them the most.  In fact, the pain, suffering, and sadness we feel when a person we love passes away, is not actually over the death, rather it is rooted in our inability to ever share and experience with that person again.

 

The fundamental truth is that honestly, the average person has very little understanding of death.

 

To most people death is what they see on TV or in the movies. Or, more confusing they may associate death with what they have seen it a funeral or wake.

 

Yet, make no mistake death is none of these things. In fact, what you see at a funeral is actually our best effort to conceal the reality of death. An effort for those who are still alive to try and stomach the cruelty of the truth.

 

Unfortunately, for many years now I have come to recognize and understand the reality of what is death.

 

When it comes to my public career I have been called many things, from “advocate” to “worthless piece of shit.” I guess it depends on how you view me when it comes to how you would define my public role. 

 

Now, what may interest some people is to know that frequently I ask myself, “What am I?”- “What is my goal?” – “Why is it that I choose to speak my mind?”

 

Ultimately, whenever I spend any time trying to introspect on what “I am” or what do I support, I find that what it is I try to support is actually something that cannot be contained within one categorical definition or simple classification.

 

Instead, what I truly support can be defined by the simplest and broadest of terms- At the end of the day, I am merely an advocate for life. 

 

Keep in mind that just as putting on a uniform on doesn't make one a police officer, nor does acknowledgment of existence actually make one alive. Instead to actually live, one must exist in a state of homeostasis that is in-tune with one’s inner self and the universe in which they occupy. 

 

Please understand this sounds widely more complex than it actually is. Because, when you are in tune with existence, it is just like a radio station, the channel is clear and you experience real happiness in life.

 

Of course many may argue with me, well what the hell do you know about life and happiness? Who are you to fancy yourself as some life guru?

 

Trust me, I’m no guru, and in fact am just a regular guy. I just am a regular guy who has had the unfortunate opportunity to see the other side.

I have seen death.

 

 

Over the last fifteen years of my career as a police officer, I have come to see and understand death.

 

I’ve held dead infants; seen mutilated bodies and been to police officer’s funerals. I’ve had a man, who shot his friend in the head because of an argument over a $20 crack debt, tell me that he was about to shoot me, just as he reached for a .38 caliber revolver. Only the fact, that I was quicker than him and his eyes widened as he looked at the barrel of my .40 caliber Glock pointed at him, probably saved my life.

 

I’ve held the hand of a young man, I’d known since he was 10-years-old, as he lay on the pavement crying in agony and begging me for help. His body riddled with bullets; shards of bone jutting through his skin.

 

I have seen more death than I care to remember, and can say without a doubt there is no joy or positivity that surrounds the darkness that truly is the reality of death.

 

Similar to when I heard of that man’s death when he crossed the road that fateful night years ago, yesterday I found myself pondering to myself, “Is there something wrong with me?” – “ I simply cannot find any satisfaction in anyone’s loss of life.”

 

For me, the reemergence of the same introspective inquiry I had already once had come about as I read through many of the comments people had made on the news story I published of Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson taking his own life.

 

Make no mistake I am fully aware that Rep. Johnson chose to take his own life after his political career was leveled from accusations of child molestation and sexual misconduct. Furthermore, as someone who once worked sex crimes and as special victim’s detective, I am more than aware of the devastating impact that sexual abuse can have on the victims. In fact, I have often said that to be victimized by rape or molestation is a fate almost worse than being murdered. For the victims of these destructive crimes, their pain is something they will endure their entire life.

 

Yet still, as disgusted and incensed as I am at those who sexually victimize others, I still find myself incapable of taking any joy at the loss of even a predator’s life.

 

Ultimately, for me, it comes down to the fact that I have seen what death really is. I understand the gruesome and gut-wrenching appearance of what an inanimate body feels like. The images of the dead may haunt me; however, in the end, it has only strengthened my conviction and love for life.

 

I love and advocate life. In turn, I cannot ever find any celebration in death.

At the end of the day, having seen what death truly represents, I must pose this question to everyone: Can any of us ever truly appreciate life if we are willing to celebrate death?

 

Additionally, I find myself wondering, is the reason we are so willing to kill each other or so quick to call out for the extinguishing of human life, because we have no appreciation for life, or is it because we have no real understanding of death?

 

Honestly, I do not even begin to pretend that I know what happens to each of us when we die. However, I can say without any shadow of a doubt, having watched people die before my very eyes, the instant that life ceases to exist in our bodies something radically disappears.

 

When you objectively experience the death of a stranger, you immediately can see the moment that the “spark,” “soul,” or whatever you want to call that “thing” that animates us and makes us alive, disappears. There is no mistake; a person does not simply look like they are sleeping. Instead, something dramatic is lost and where that “thing” goes I have no idea.

 

What I can tell you is that that “thing,” “soul,” “light,” or “spark,” is indeed something pure and seemingly divine. It is pure and unspoiled by all of a person’s misdeeds and ills that one may have engaged in during their lifetime. Whether we choose to see it or not, that “spark” is the same within us all and I truly it binds us all together no matter what we all look like on the outside.

 

It is that “spark” of purity that is beyond the moral corruptions we bring into our lives that drives me and makes me be an advocate for life. Because once you see that “spark,” there truly is great sadness in watching the “light” be extinguished and that "thing" no longer exist.

 

It is my love for all life and that “spark” within us all, which forces me to say, I truly cannot ever take any joy in death. No matter, how deserving that death actually is.

 

It is my love for all life and that “spark” within us all, which forces me to say, I truly cannot ever take any joy in death. No matter, how deserving that death actually is.

 

Lastly, in coming to understand death I can say that none of us should be afraid or consider death to be the ultimate loss one can experience. Rather, the greatest loss comes when we take joy in death while we are still alive. 

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