Thursday, September 1, 2011

To my LeVeille Family -

I walked through the door of the American Police Hall of Fame, and hugged the friends I had just seen a few hours before. This time, though, there wasn't any screaming or jumping up and down, there were a lot of people in reverent black and dressed up clothes, milling around chatting, holding carnations in the quiet foyer and looking through programs.

I had already been very sobered looking at all the motorcycles lined up outside from the parade that came to show support, knowing that I was here for a Memorial Service, and my heart was already thinking this was more than I could take.

But of course, as best friends go, after we had all hugged, and my eyes had taken on the size of saucers, I was getting dragged off by the excited "little" not-so-little-anymore brothers and sisters to see everything in the museum. After about 10 "ohmygoodness"'s, I think it sunk in to my friend and she turned to me and said "Haven't you seen this? When was the last time you were here?", and I was like "I've NEVER been here.". Hah. Her surprise was huge, and with that, she proclaimed I needed to start at the beginning and walk the whole way through. ;)

What I didn't count on though, was how big it was going to be. And how many names there were.

I walked through the Memorial doorway, and halted abruptly. A hand came up to my face, and I whispered "Oh Sarah. I don't think I can do this.". It was so overwhelming instantly. I felt punched in the gut, there were so many names. So many names to so many people, and I hadn't had one single clue. Over 8,000 names. Sarah took my hand, and brought me around to the certain wall.

She held up her camera to take a picture, and I lifted my camera to take a picture of her. I clicked the shutter, looked down at the image, and tears filled my eyes. What little composure I had tried to stifle down, was gone. I don't think Sarah noticed, since her back was to me, but as I continued to snap a few more as she took some as well, the tears ran down my cheeks. I wiped them away just in time to smile at her when she turned around.

because there at the top, etched in marble, was her Daddy's name.

Standing there, in that quiet memorial place, where her Daddy is honored. She is here. He is not.

Special Agent Paul A. LeVeille, FBI - El Paso, TX

After a couple hugs and me probably sniffing back more tears, we toured the rest of the museum and hall of fame and had (as usual) an absolutely laughter-side-splitting-time. We tried on all sorts of costumes, and posed for pictures and made pins. :) We laughed and teased and had the best old time, walking around through all the artifacts from Policing from "way back when" to now. :)

Then we all headed outside for the Memorial Service, and we sat down, with more pictures and smiles and talking and all that goes on, when best friends have only 48hrs. left with each other. :)

Then the families started walking in....the bagpipes began to play, and we sat there, as the smiles started to die down and the sorrow began to press in again. The flags marched past, with rifles and smartly dressed uniforms. The American flag - what the 8,000 names had died to preserve. The bagpipes went on forever. I struggled and struggled and tried not to say anything.

And then I remembered that I was sitting next to my best friend who I was always completely honest with, and she would know my heart when I asked. I stumbled out the beginning of the question, and then gave up trying to explain and choked it out. "Sarah? Do you .... Coming, sitting here. Doesn't it feel like you are losing him all over again?"
She nodded her head. "Yes. Every. single. time."

I gripped her hand in mine and tried not to cry again. With my throat raw and my heart near to bursting, we sat through so many names being read. Too many names. Too many. It was hard. The just recently grieving families....the little children with their carnations. And the families that had gone for years through all this. My heart was being wrung through the cycle. ;)

I just did not have a clue. And it wrenched my heart, that I thought most people really didn't either. Who would have known that all these people died, for our Country and our safety, unless you knew them personally? Perhaps having the service right next to some of the NASA buildings made it hit harder for me. My family = Bumped up against this place where Mr. LeVeille's name is. In my hometown.

and the reminder on the program that my best friend was part of one of those families.

I found myself praying through much of the service, not just for my dear friends, but for many of the grieving families, that their hope and trust would be led to Christ, and Christ alone.

If you have a beloved one you have lost that has died serving our Country, please receive my deep thanks, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. I'm so sorry you have lost one you love.

This huge mighty thunderstorm began moving in. We could see the lightning moving cloud to cloud, and it began rumbling. We sat there laughing nervously and quietly, trying to figure out how long we could sit outside and not get struck by lightning. ;) We put our cameras away, and pulled our jackets tighter. The closer it got, the more purple and black the sky became...and soon, they stopped the program. I'm not sure if we were relieved to just stop hearing all the names, or we were disappointed to not hear Mr. LeVeille's.

All I know is that the smiles and the joy came back as we ran through pelting raindrops in the dark to the waiting van. There was a whole lot of joking about the storm, and the night ended quiet happily with me driving back with them to the hotel on the beach, where we spent an amazing next 36 hours or so. Seriously. Some very awesome and hysterical best friend time. :D
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Tonight I sat at the kitchen table eating dinner, and told Mom "I can't imagine what it would like to have someone come to my front door and tell me that my Dad is dead. I just can't imagine. That would be awful. That would be SO HARD.".

Today marked 12 years since Mr. LeVeille went to be with our Lord in Heaven.

I met the LeVeilles, I think it was .... 10 months after September 1999. When they moved to FL. I had very little conception of deep grief before 2001. I'm sure I have said so many things that were the wrong things to say to my dear friends. And yet, I always wanted to hear about their fascinating Daddy who was the FBI agent. :) And they always loved talking about him.

So many times of tears, so many nights we watched sad movies, and ended up sobbing. (wow. great idea, girls) So many walks and bike rides and conversations and tears for just missing their Daddy. Missing all of it.

I remember walking down the sand road they lived on, just a few miles from my house....so many memories there....but one day when we were older, walking down that road, and the sunset light was spilling over the orange groves just right, and we were quiet.

And it seemed like such a quick intake of breath was all we had then. This. Here. Now. We were talking about something special, and I can't even remember what it was now. But as that light spilled over, I remember so clearly how the veil was almost tearing. How we could almost step into Heaven from there. The light was certainly enough to be from Heaven, and how we longed for it then. Together.
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I think I have said "I'm sorry." so many times that maybe it doesn't hold as much as it did the first few times. But maybe now, after I've tasted grief and worn myself out with sadness many times, weeping for the loss of others, maybe it means more after all these years.

and something else too ....

"I'm so sorry. I miss him for you."
I'm sorry your Daddy isn't here, and I'm sorry for all the times you missed your Daddy when I had mine, and I was ungrateful for just having the moments that mean the most.
I'm sad for you, and I weep for you, and I ache with longing for you, that you ache for him.
And also - I rejoice for you.
Because you get to spend forever with your Daddy, you just have to wait a little longer to see him.
I'm sorry for your great, huge loss, and that you miss him everyday.
I'm sorry for all the things and pictures and times you wanted with him, and you won't have.
I'm sad, so sad for you tonight. I'm sad your memories are fading.
I'm sad I can't hold you tonight and listen to you cry on my shoulder, my friend.
I'm sad you can't cry on your Daddy's shoulder tonight.
I miss him for you, Sarah.
I miss him for all of you, "Mom", Miriam, Sarah, David, Jon, Joseph, Rachel.
And I also know that you will each leave here with JOY to enter into Heaven, because of knowing that you have LIFE EVERLASTING with our gracious Heavenly Father, and your Daddy.
How precious our future, of knowing that it is set in stone, life FOREVER with God!
I can't wait to meet your Daddy someday....until then. We will wait. :)"

I love you, my Sarah.

I love you so so so much, LeVeille family.
You are so dear to me. I pray my remembering is a joyous grace to you.
Thank you for allowing me such a close walk with you as if we are family.
You blessed me immeasurably when you were down here visiting. You cannot even know. Thank you. Praying for all of you, especially the hard days around the anniversary.
Our family treasures each of you, and Mr. LeVeille as well.
With deep love, and many hugs, and with JOY,
~ Jean Marie ~

"When we shall come home and enter to the possession of our Brother's fair kingdom,
and when our heads shall find the weight of the eternal crown of glory,
and when we shall look back to pains and sufferings; then shall we see life and sorrow
to be less than one step or stride from a prison to glory; and that our little inch of time -
suffering is not worthy of our first night's welcome home to heaven."
~ Samuel Rutherford ~

P.S. Lucy Mae sends lots of kisses. :)

2 comments:

Cathy Drobnick said...

Lovely tribute, Jean. Love, mcd

Jenna said...

Such a beautifully written post, dear friend! I cannot even begin to fathom how hard it would be to loose a father... May the Lord be with the LeVeille family!

Many Blessings,
Jenna