Damned If I Don’t!

I chose to live.

There was a brief moment or two when it seemed it would be so much easier, so less painful to let it all end.

I cannot begin to describe the agony. Anything I say just won’t do it justice.

It hurt worse than anything I can ever imagine. Day after day, once the kids were in school and I was safely alone, I would scream and call down curses from the sky.

And God help me, I would wear myself out crying and scrubbing blood spatter stains off the trim work and walls. I don’t understand it, but no matter how hard I cleaned, it seemed to come back the next day in new places.

And then there was the anger. Early on it was a living breathing vivid thing. It was ever present and constantly smoldering.

I was angry at Paul Buckman. I was angry at his lowlife family and friends or whoever it was that had protected him or refused to acknowledge his perversions. I hated them and wished for all of their deaths.

I was angry at the criminal justice system and the judge who let him out of jail.

Just an hour before Karen and Cole were so brutally murdered, I called the investigators to get his license number because he had followed them the night before–and was denied. I was angry at them as well.

But most of all, I was angry for failing to see the threat he was–I was angry for not seeking vengeance myself for what he had done to Cole.

So add up all the anger and pain. Factor in the expectations of those who still do not understand why I had to walk away from a house, town, job, and church home. Multiply that by all the job and insurance related fear and confusion. Add in another dose of what-do-I-do-now and how-do-I-support-my-family…

What amazes me are the people who continue to second guess how I responded–and judge me still. (Walk 15 minutes in my shoes and I bet your thinking changes–but hey, I wouldn’t wish this on you for any reason…)

But into this incredible cauldron mix of conflicting and seething emotions walked an angel.


I have called her Becki Beth since she was 14. She was the best friend of my sister, Julie.

Way back when, we dated for three or four years. At some point in time, as the old Journey song goes, we entered separate ways and spent almost three decades worlds apart.

IMG_0036 IMG_0093

We had no contact in all those intervening years.

Yet, here she was. Not to do anything but be a friend, to be supportive, to listen.

Thankfully, she didn’t come alone–hope and laughter came with her. And grief. To this day, when I cry, she cries with me.

To those who cannot fathom my new life, I know it seems crazy. But over an admittedly short period of time, the sun began to shine anew. The stars learned how to twinkle again.

And love blossomed once more.

I know some expectations were shattered. I was supposed to be the grieving widower much longer than I was.

Yeah. Damned if you do; Damned if you don’t.

Regardless of how others think or feel, I chose to live.

Thank you, Becki, for walking this road with me. For loving my children, for loving me with such a fierce passion and protection. I love you. (And yes, on our wedding day, I know you wore that $99 promise ring I bought back in 1984… if you wear it again, please quit handing people a magnifying glass to see the diamond in it… LOL! JK!)

In the meantime, if you still don’t understand or if you just want to disapprove, all you really need to know is this: I choose to live.

What would you have done?


Les, Jr.

41 thoughts on “Damned If I Don’t!

  1. I am soooo glad uou chose to live!! Unlike some people…i am also glad you found Becki again. And unless someone has spent one day in your life…they should not judge. People dont understand and i hope they never do. Who would chose to endure the tragedy you have? I am so thankful for Becki….thankful sge made my friend smile again. I am so happy that Becki is there for you and the boys.

  2. Good on you. While you were calling down curses, God decided enough was enough and sent a blessing. It will never make up for what you lost, but it will give you a reason to breathe.

  3. “What would you have done?” Brother, I can’t answer that question, and I hope I never have to, but, if I do, I pray that I would handle things half as well as you have. I’m glad you chose to live! Love you!

    • BTW – I don’t know how it’s possible, but Becki is even more beautiful now than she was when we were in high school. 🙂 If the two of you getting back together was not a God thing, then I don’t know what is. Love ya.

  4. Brother we are so thankful for this great blessing in you life. Our prayers are with you and we thank you for sharing so much with us, it teachs us much about life. We thank our God for you.
    In Jesus
    Donald Davis

  5. Happy for you and Becki! It would have been, if possible, more horrible had Buckman been able to take you away as well, had you not chosen to live. Even in death, The DEVIL still tries. Les, you still have alot of faith and soul deep down, that you Will be pulling from for a long time. Keep on keeping on!!

  6. WOW–what a story! Amazing! Always wondered who that girl was on your shoulders in your profile pic. Thanks for filling in the gaps! SO glad and thankful your lives intertwined once again. 🙂

  7. Wanted to add I can relate to your anger/injustice/wonderment re the criminal ‘justice’ system. In the 80’s, two people greatly robbed me of joy in my life and had me constantly on edge–a volatile ex-husband (who had been jailed twice during drunken rages) and a stalker. Re my ex-husband and attempts to legally put constaints on him, I was told, “what’s his is yours, and what’s yours is his” and thus nothing could be done. Re my efforts to stave off a stalker (a co-worker), I was told, “Lady, we don’t have the police manpower to go after everyone that gives threats.” In both instances, the police admitted that unfortunately police involvement wouldn’t/couldn’t take place until AFTER something was done/perpetrated. Also, the phone company did nothing even though I had my phone tapped (said they’d divulge the person who had been calling me once I received ‘x’ amount of calls from the same #–they didn’t).

  8. God sees faith in your heart even though right now you see and feel him through devastating pain. You chose to live life and to want to believe again; you chose a hard path, to walk with him anyway, in spite of many tragedies gushing out of one horrible invasion of your life- a tragedy that can make no sense to a believer.

    When this part of grieving is passed, you may find that as God walked beside you, he also enriched your concept of who he is and how he works in us. You will draw from that wisdom as you minister: beauty from ashes is one of his strong points.

    I cried when I read that he had sent you Becki Beth, again, because she knew who you were before grief engulfed you. You have a history together that strengthens your relationship now. I pray for your family as you build new life together and new businesses.

    You mourn for your ministry that was ripped from your hands, but your writing is teaching us all—now- not years from now, when you would write from fading memory, but in the midst of raw hurt and anger. You help us be more real in our relationship with God when we desperately search answers.

    Let go of whatever critical church members say. We do the best we can with the heart we have at the present moment. On the cross Jesus prayed about his adversaries: forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing, and for sure, they didn’t. Your story is bringing more maturity to many who still get milk from spiritual teachers, but are hungry for so much more.

  9. True Christians would not judge you. How dare they!! Les, you do not know me but I was so touched by what happened I drove from New Orleans to attend the funeral. I attend services at the Gulfport congregation. I am the parent of a 37-year-old “angel” with severe/profound disabilities. The very thought of someone hurting her the way this depraved, heartless person hurt your beautiful son and wife, just the thought, is enough to make me cry uncontrollably. That kind of grief cannot be borne alone. You have found solace and don’t doubt for one second that God did not provide you with Becki just when you needed it the most. I so admire your strength. Forget what uncaring, judgmental people say.

  10. Les, a friend posted this link on her FB page and I’m so glad she did.
    I graduated with Karen at WCHS in 1985 and we re-connected here on FB. It was such a blessing to see how her life was with you, the children and God.
    I have often wondered how you and the children were doing and it is such a blessing to see that while still in the mist of your grief, you have been able to find and appreciate love.
    While you are walking in this valley of grief and doubt, it’s beautiful to know that God’s love still has you wrap in his arms in the shape of your new wife.
    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers and I have signed up for your email and will be keeping up with you from now on.
    God Bless.

    • Thank you, Tina. I very much appreciate your reading and commenting. Send me an email so I can know who you are. Karen’s parents are here quite often to see us and they too have fallen in love with my Becki. It makes life a whole lot easier having their continued love and support.

  11. Butch,
    I admire you for being so open about your anger, frustrations and honesty… Because we went to church together you do know part of my family history, but 1 day soon I will share the rest of it with you and your blog. Until then, just know that your courage has enabled me to do some healing and coming to terms with GOD. I wish you all the best with this Journey and I look forward to all your future postings.
    Your friend, Mardi

  12. Believing is blind faith…you just do it and everyday gets easier and better. I have been there. It is a choice you make over every day. Everyday is a new beginning for Believers. Jesus gave us that unselfish gift on the cross. Blessings my friend.

  13. So glad the sunshine has come back into your life. Yes, the choice to LIVE is the way to go. God Bless you and your family

  14. When I was released from jail in 2010 I found a small church in gulfport, ms. The preachers name was Les Ferguson. He believed in me when nobody else did. That preacher came to my house and gave me a ride to and from church on Sunday morning and Wednesday night.He was a great preacher. I loved hearing the sermons that he had that day. His bible study’s were great as well. I still remember the day that he baptized me. He took me out to eat a few days before because he wanted to make sure that I knew what I was doing.As time went on I started messing up again. Les helped me find a rehab in jackson, ms. I stayed there for 6 months. When I was released I was placed on house arrest for one year. Since I went to that rehab May 18, 2011 I dedicated my life to JESUS once again I have been sober and serving our lord since that day..I heard of all the terrible things that had happened while I was gone. I spoke to him on the phone after everything had happened.I tried to call him a little later and his phone was disconnected. I wish that I could find that preacher again to tell him thank you for helping me. I stayed in jackson after my sentences, I found a good job, I got married, and made a few new friends who love JESUS. If I had never gone to that church and met that preacher……… I would be dead or in prison. Thank you!

  15. Les i have only visited churches since that day ! You know i church shopped before i found Orange Grove Church of Christ. You know my story i am in that club with you. I remember the day you came to visit Bobby and i, we talked and you answered questions and read scripture. You and Bobby conected in a big way with your love of music. Life was good and then all hell broke lose as my daddy would say. I have my own guilt, you see i knew that low life man wasen’t right.. he was in my bible study class. I said something but was told that we should not judge. As Cole would say yea right ! I admit i didn’t like it when you left, i was selfish but i wanted you to be happy. I I am so happy you reconected with Becki. I miss you and the boys but i am delighted you have a wonderful lady to walk by your side cry with you and love you.Thank you for your blogs you have no idea how much they help me and others in a way i feel like you are still here with us and that is a very good thing.. Love to you and the family.Geraldine

  16. Les, God is all knowing and knows what he is doing. I am so grateful for Stan in my life. I didn’t realize that Becki was your long lost sweetheart. Everybody knew that Stan and I would marry after John passed away. I am the better for knowing you and Karen and I wish you and Becki the best of everything. Keep writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.