Obscenity Redux

**Warning: Graphic Details Ahead

If you have been following this blog, you likely have read or know the story below originally published on February 8, 2013. It is not my desire to inundate you with a story that is horrific at whatever level you interact with it so feel free to go watch something on TV rather than read again.

However, there may be some readers who have not picked up on the backdrop to Desperately Wanting to Believe Again.

If you have been reading from the beginning, I hope you have noticed the change to my tag line which now says From ashes to new life, this is my journey back to a thriving and growing faith…

I do believe. I do have faith in God, but like the man told Jesus long ago, Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.

Thanks for sharing in my journey. We have come a long way, and yet, I still limp, but I am limping faster down the road than I ever before…

**Warning: Graphic Details Ahead

When you google (or whatever search engine you prefer) my name, you get a pretty good grasp of the horror that befell my family, October 10, 2011.

It was a horror far greater than words can do it justice.

When I arrived in my subdivision that day it was packed with an unbelievable police and paramedic presence. And I knew…

In just a few minutes I was surrounded by police protection moving me from one place to another for safety until finally I was placed inside an armored SWAT van. Nobody would tell me what was happening. I didn’t know where Casey was. I had been asked to describe Cole and Karen.

As long as I live I will never get the imagery out of my head of seeing the coroner round the corner of the van and make his way inside. I remember telling him he wasn’t allowed to speak to me–I knew what he had to say. That freeze frame is frozen for ever.

I knew. I knew for sure what my heart had already told me.

Ugliness, hatred, and death ruled that day in power and that power will never be completely broken this side of eternity.

But there is a back story here that is obscene in itself. In fact, this post will detail several obscenities we have endured.

During the spring and early summer, my 21 year old handicapped son Cole (cerebral palsy & mitochondrial disease) was violated in the worst way imaginable by a 70 year old, kindly looking, grandfatherly acting man from our church. We invited him into our home, entrusted him with Cole every Wednesday for a few hours at a time over the course of 12 weeks or so. Cole’s mental capacity was more that of an elementary age child and this was like having a “friend” over to watch TV.

Kids like Cole are high maintenance–parents of special needs kids are often desperate for some down time. This was a personal ministry designed so Karen could have some time out of the house. We thought it was a gift from God.

During that time, Cole’s behavior got very erratic and strange. He was always worried about his DVD’s and game discs getting dirty–but then he began dumping whole stacks in the sink and running water over them obsessed with getting them clean. We had no idea what was going on until he finally broke down and told us he had been molested.

Eventually we discovered he had been raped. Cole’s exact words: “he put toothpaste on my butt and gave me a big shot.” And he was threatened that if he told, his whole family would be shot. During those times of violation, a pistol was laid on Cole’s pillow to remind him of remaining silent.

I never knew until after the funeral that once or twice was actually multiple times of rape.

The months between Paul Buckman’s arrest and the murders of October 10 were very stressful. We questioned everything, especially our inability to see what was happening to our son.

And if that wasn’t obscene enough, we then begin enduring the judgment of church members who were indignant over our reporting the crime. I was told I wasn’t a real Christian for “not working it out” with Paul Buckman. Several church members left. Some began a campaign of rumor, innuendo, and just plain ugliness. The toll on our lives and family was heavy.

But then came the day Paul Buckman burst into the house with a hatchet and a gun. We will never know the extent of terror they endured. Casey who was 5-1/2 years old at the time, made it out of the house at his mother’s urging as she fought for their lives. We have no real idea how much he saw and experienced.

After all of that, a few weeks after the funerals were over, a church lady asked me, “How much pleasure was Cole deriving from his encounters?” (I was never tempted to call her stupid, she went far beyond that threshold.)

That particular obscenity made me gag then. The thought still does even now. Some things should never happen.

Three weeks to the day after we laid them to rest, I was approached by a man who asked me if I was about to get over it and get back to preaching…

I know that plenty of church folk supported me. I know the horror that visited us that day didn’t visit just my family by ourselves. And, I know people were desperate for things to get back to normal.

I, on the other hand, was a long, long, long way from even knowing what my new normal was going to look like.

“Get over it?”

Day after day, long night after even longer night, I was wracked with pain, grief, and an inability to know anything about what my future would bring.

It was all I could do to keep the clothes washed, get kids to school, and figure out what was for supper.

Preach? I couldn’t think of one decent thing to say about God. My integrity was all I had left and I could not fake it from the pulpit.

During this time we had returned to the house where they had both been shot twice in the head–gun-to-head contact. We had to live there. Before we returned, it had been professionally cleaned by a company specializing in the removal of blood. But the house had been a bloodbath and every time I turned around I was cleaning another patch of bloodstains from walls, door jambs, ceiling, and floors. I would cry and scrub and do it all again.

And then there was the day I realized the hole in the floor was from a bullet.

Obscene.

Obviously I still have a lot to work through.

But if I can, I’d like to ask you to refrain from suggesting one particular obscenity as if it was somehow comforting…. Or something I or anyone else should/ could draw from to make me/ us stronger.

The story of Job is obscene beyond belief. There is nothing comforting about the tragedies that fell on him. Even after being given a new family and financial recovery, the story is still obscene.

Yes, I understand I am building a new life.
And I am so very grateful for it.

Yesterday and today, I have felt physically and emotionally better than I have in a long, long time.

I am beginning to see some progress in my new line of work.

I see a brighter tomorrow.

But sometimes kids lose a beloved dog. And sometimes as parents, we console them with the idea they can have another dog one day.

People are not dogs.
They can’t be replaced.

Not now.
Not in the life of Job either.

And it is obscene to think so.

Thanks to all who have been reading…
Les

21 thoughts on “Obscenity Redux

  1. Tears are just cascading down my face…. Job is a nice example, I agree we can learn a lot…. but never does it say that he didn’t miss what he had before, even after he was healing and moving on in his life.

    Karen was lucky to have you as a husband…. All your boys, including Cole… blessed beyond measure to have you as their dad….

    And Becki…. well you are lucky to have her… as I know you know this… for not many women would have what it takes to hold you through these times and be a part of the healing. Something tells me that Karen and Cole are thankful for this chance you have.

    My heart and love to you, Les. I hope I didn’t sound like it was a platitude…. for I know that you loved what you lost and you love what you have… and I can’t imagine and wont’ try to pretend that I understand completely.

    Thank you for your character.

  2. I guess the sons of Korah understand….

    Psalm 88

    1-9 God, you’re my last chance of the day.
    I spend the night on my knees before you.
    Put me on your salvation agenda;
    take notes on the trouble I’m in.
    I’ve had my fill of trouble;
    I’m camped on the edge of hell.
    I’m written off as a lost cause,
    one more statistic, a hopeless case.
    Abandoned as already dead,
    one more body in a stack of corpses,
    And not so much as a gravestone—
    I’m a black hole in oblivion.
    You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
    sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.
    I’m battered senseless by your rage,
    relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger.
    You turned my friends against me,
    made me horrible to them.
    I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out,
    blinded by tears of pain and frustration.

    9-12 I call to you, God; all day I call.
    I wring my hands, I plead for help.
    Are the dead a live audience for your miracles?
    Do ghosts ever join the choirs that praise you?
    Does your love make any difference in a graveyard?
    Is your faithful presence noticed in the corridors of hell?
    Are your marvelous wonders ever seen in the dark,
    your righteous ways noticed in the Land of No Memory?

    13-18 I’m standing my ground, God, shouting for help,
    at my prayers every morning, on my knees each daybreak.
    Why, God, do you turn a deaf ear?
    Why do you make yourself scarce?
    For as long as I remember I’ve been hurting;
    I’ve taken the worst you can hand out, and I’ve had it.
    Your wildfire anger has blazed through my life;
    I’m bleeding, black-and-blue.
    You’ve attacked me fiercely from every side,
    raining down blows till I’m nearly dead.
    You made lover and neighbor alike dump me;
    the only friend I have left is Darkness.

  3. Dear Les,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now, and I can’t describe the gamut of feelings that have gone through me. I have an immense amount of admiration and respect for you for sharing these difficult thoughts and feelings with us. Even though you are struggling with faith and theodicy through these times, the spirit of a true Christian still shines through you.

    I still struggle with faith and theodicy, even though I haven’t had to endure anything like you have. But, I still cling to the idea that the One who makes all things new will one day make everything sad come untrue.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, and may you and your family be comforted greatly.

    Yours truly,
    Eric

  4. “The story of Job is obscene beyond belief. There is nothing comforting about the tragedies that fell on him. Even after being given a new family and financial recovery, the story is still obscene.”

    Well said Les. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us. I resonate with your thoughts. Not sure that I have ever recovered from the death of my first wife.

  5. I am struggling to just sit here in the pain for a little while, tears pouring down, hopes shattered. I will be honest, I want to run, turn the page, find an article about something light and move on.

    Then there’s the family therapist in me who has raised three kids on her own, who has dealt with teenage drug use and stood alone more times than I can count. Pushed God away and went outside and looked up at the Heavens and shouted WHY into a silent sky.

    So if you don’t mind, I am going to sit with you a while and remember a God Who fell silent but Who also eventually showed up, helped me off the floor, pointed me back to that red pew in that church building I grew up in. And He just stood with me until I was ready to walk thru the healing part of the pain.

    He looked different to me because I was different, weary, shell-shocked, spent. But He still came and He still comes and with every prayer in my being, may He show up in miraculous ways in your life today.

  6. It took a brave family to stop a Monster (molester). I have a feeling this wasn’t the first child he molested and if you had not sought charges, it would not have been the last. It cost you more than you could believe, but it saved the next child. So the next time they say that, tell them you are happy you saved another child from being molested.

  7. i knew what had happened to your family by that 70 year old;
    Of course, wasn’t aware of how individual christians hurt you and can’t imagine that pain either

    they both make me sad and angry.

    sorry you had to endure both.

  8. The fact that you can walk upright after surviving such a tragedy is remarkable. You won’t ever “get over it”. I imagine had you not had other children to care for you might not have gotten this far. Any death of a loved one is tragic, but for you to have lost two in the way they were lost…Well, words are inadequate.

    When I read a particularly horrible story in the news, the only comfort I can offer myself is that while the loved ones left behind are suffering, those who have left this life are way beyond this suffering, with no memory of it.

    I am taking this journey with you and I hope nothing I ever say comes across as trite. All I know is that no one knows another persons suffering. And on a lighter note – the world is full of stupid people.

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