Some months ago I wrote about the cliché that we often hear in the aftermath of a sudden tragedy: “If there is anything I can do…” I do not like that phrase. I believe it is better to say nothing. There are a host of reasons for avoiding such a vague and open ended offer of service. Suffice to say that people in crisis simply do not have the emotional energy to ask for help. If we are going to serve those facing a serious illness or a death in the family, then we need to be creative and focused.
Yesterday I attended the funeral service for Trooper Jonathan McDonald in Lubbock. He was killed in a line of duty car crash outside of Post, TX late Monday evening. Hundreds of DPS troopers and officers from other law enforcement agencies attended the service. Trooper McDonald’s 26 year old wife eulogized her fallen husband. I was amazed and touched to say the least. The comments of Sgt. Ruben Garcia, who served as Jonathan’s supervisor, particularly caught my attention.
He gave Jonathan’s extended family and friends a very specific assignment. He told them to go home and type out their memories of Jonathan. He urged them to describe his character in detail. And then he gave those same individuals a deadline. Sgt. Garcia instructed them to email their thoughts to him by the first week in December. He is going to compile all of those memories into one document. That completed piece will be saved for Jonathan McDonald’s 6 month old daughter. Sgt. Garcia gets it.
Sgt. Garcia chose not to ask the family of the man he supervised what he could do. He chose instead to be creative and focused. And I might add that he factored some accountability into to the effort as well. Ruben is a hero in my eyes. I know firsthand just how priceless that compilation of letters will be to Jonathan’s daughter someday.
Supervisors that care about their people are rare gems. During the video capturing Trooper McDonald’s life there was a picture of Sgt. Garcia holding a newborn girl, who will one day be the recipient of the above mentioned letters. Enough said. I hope his actions will serve as example to all of us to be decisive in our efforts to serve those in crisis. Call me if there is anything I can do…I don’t think so!!