**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 Karen and Cole.
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 at church 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.
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 in the life of Job either.
And it is obscene to think so.
Thanks to all who have been reading…