This week in my counseling techniques class we are studying the idea of meaning. Our textbook mentions that meaning issues become more prominent after a person has experienced a serious illness, encountered a life changing experience, or gone through a serious trauma. I have experienced two of the three in the last year. I have journeyed with my friends in law enforcement since June of last year during a life changing experienced triggered by a serious trauma.
Saturday is the one year marker. June 28th, 2013. I had traveled to Lubbock the day before to accompany my friends to take their daughter on a tour of Lubbock Christian University. Her father is a police officer in Granbury. LCU is my alma mater. I felt she would be shortchanged unless I provided color commentary during the tour that the university provides. I showed them around Lubbock the night before. We got blizzards at the same Dairy Queen where I purchased vanilla cokes when I was “riding around” with my teenage friends in the 1970’s. Our names are probably still carved in the booths somewhere.
During the campus tour the next morning I received the call. One of the deputies from the Hood County Sheriff’s office informed me that Lance McLean had been critically injured in a shooting. He also indicated that city officer Chad Davis was seriously injured. My friends could tell that that something was terribly wrong immediately. The tour was over. The fun was over. We quickly made our way back to the hotel and hurriedly packed. It was going to be a long 4 hour trip home. None of us would be the same.
After arriving home, we joined dozens of law enforcement officers standing vigil in the intensive care waiting room at John Peter Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth. I will never forget the kindness and hospitality extended by members of the Fort Worth Police Dept. There was a somber tone among those that normally loved constant joking.
Lance passed away the next day. By the day after that, we were making plans for a funeral that would include all of the traditions characteristic of a law enforcement funeral. We made plans for a service that we knew would be attended by hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the state.
Saturday is the one year marker. I have learned a few things about meaning over these past 12 months.
- I have learned that a sudden loss brings people together. People that were just acquaintances have become friends. And existing friendships have been deepened. I am blessed by new relationships.
- I have learned that everyone reacts differently. Some internalize their grief. Others are very verbal. But no one in our law enforcement community has gone unaffected. It is a journey and it is by no means over.
- I have learned that true servants are not extinct. I have seen unselfish service over the past year in ways I can’t possibly put in words. These people know who they are. They continue to inspire me.
- I have learned that the evil actions of one person cause untold collateral damage. One man made a choice to instigate evil the morning Lane answered that call. That man’s actions has created more emotional damage to people that I could possibly describe. I am probably more aware than anyone in our community the extent of such emotional damage. As the one year anniversary approaches, the emotional damage feels overwhelming at times.
- Members of Lance’s family have modeled courage, class, and dignity. Enough said.
As the one year marker approaches this week, meaning issues remain prominent. I continue to see a renewal in spiritual commitments, and a greater appreciation for each other. And as for me, I am grateful that I am called to minister. I would not do anything else. I find such a calling to be especially meaningful as the one year marker of Lance’s death approaches. Serving people that have gone through a serious trauma is my real calling. As crazy as it sounds, I find it meaningful. So this week I will pray for continued healing and continue to love on my law enforcement friends.