Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eight Years Ago Today...

Eight years ago today at about 1650 hrs, I received a telephone call from David. He was surprised I answered the phone as he thought I was in the mountains snowboarding. I informed him I went up the day before and I was back at work. I did not think anything of it and he asked if I would do him a favor. I did not hesitate to tell him, yeah, sure…but what he asked was strange, but again, thought nothing of it.

David told me he was going to call me back and leave a voicemail on my phone. David asked me not to check it until later that night when I was home, again strange, but thought nothing of it. He called back and I let it go to voicemail. Ok, there is brotherly love, then there is curiosity, and so I did not wait until I got home and checked the voicemail.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 – Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another

I began to listen to the message that according to the time stamp said it was five minutes long. I began thinking to myself, what kind of voicemail is this that is five minutes long. He started talking about sending me a package and it would arrive on Friday. At about the two-minute mark, I began to understand what it was, especially when he began telling me to tell mom he was sorry and that he loved her very much. I have heard and read many suicide notes over the years and realized that was what this was.

The technology savvy person that most of you know collapsed under the pressure of hearing this, and instead of saving the message, I inadvertently deleted it. To this day, I have never heard the full message he left for me.

The next several hours were excruciating for me. I immediately tried calling David back and it went to voicemail. I learned during this time when my coworkers called Milpitas Police Department to send an officer by his house to check on him that he no longer worked for them. David was released from his Field Training Program just after Christmas.

David told me he completed his Field Training Program and took a couple of weeks off at the end of his training. This was his explanation to me as to why he planned a trip to Hawaii the first couple of weeks of January. I just figured…he worked for them for a year…he earned vacation time so he was taking it. Again, I did not think anything of it.

I was sent home because there was nothing more I could do. I continued to call his cell phone repeatedly until I got home. The next thing I had to do, which was one of the hardest things in my life, was to tell my mom and dad what happened and what I suspected the outcome would be. To this day, I cannot remember how it went, what was said, I have blocked it out of my mind. The rest of the evening was fielding phone calls from Milpitas Police Department, friends and family.

I am not sure of the time, but I think it was about 9pm when a co-worker came over and told me they were able to track David’s phone to the San Luis Obispo area. I sat at the foot of the stairs as he told me this, I thought, maybe they would find him and he would be all right. He then told me they found him and apparently, I missed the “found him dead” part because I had this sense of relief. He then repeated it and I lost it…completely lost it.

David loved Hawaii and the beach. I was told David was found in the rental car (Said in his letter to me he did not want to soil his BMW) parked on the beach itself. He most likely watched the sunset as it was about that time of the evening.

It is often said the number of friends who attend your funeral (that is of course unless you outlive your friends) often measures the legacy you leave behind. The outpouring of support I received the next several weeks and months was amazing. It showed how much my friends and family loved me.

The next several weeks were very difficult, but as the days passed, so did some of the hurt. However, these were also the crucial days, which tested my faith, and I succumbed to the Devil. I allowed the Devil’s thoughts to win and I blamed the Lord for David’s death. I began to hate David for being so selfish, and the Lord for allowing this to happen to our family. I began to wallow in sorrow, anger and hatred. These feelings grew even more when I was told about two weeks after David’s death that I needed to snap out of my funk, move on with life because I had a family to take care of.

Psalm 37:8 - Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil.
I did just that, I moved on, but I continued to hate and was angry at everything. Most of it directed towards David, my job and Stacey. I began to see the demise of my marriage, issues at work and a change in my overall character.

Anyway, I digress. I wanted to give a little insight into that day, eight years ago.

Because I was full of anger and hatred, I missed the Lord talking to me on several occasions in the month following David’s death.
Proverbs 1:33 – But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.
I was driving home from work one day and I felt this presence in the car with me. It was so strong, I actually looked around the passenger compartment feeling there was someone lurking inside with me. I felt this calm and heard a voice telling me it was David and he was all right. This was not enough for me and I dismissed it.

Exactly 30 days later, I was at work heading back to the station from the Court House. I remember pulling up to the intersection of W. Las Positas Blvd and Hopyard Road and I got a voicemail notification on my cell phone. It was one of those random voicemails without the phone ringing. There was no cell phone law at that time, and I checked the voicemail. There was a message but no content, as if someone had called, heard the voicemail prompt and hung up. Instead of deleting the empty message, I pulled up the envelope information.

This is what I heard. “You received a call from an outside caller, ‘David Harnish’”. The David Harnish was in David’s voice. I had to pull over and I began to cry. I again heard this voice telling me that David was all right and that I did not need to be so hard on myself because I had deleted David’s last voicemail. Again, even though I heard the voice, I did not listen and dismissed it.

The following is an excerpt from my eulogy to David. I had not read the Eulogy since David’s funeral services in its entirety. As I was writing this entry, I found the eulogy on my computer and read it.

My Aunt Esther sent my dad a letter after David died. The following is an excerpt from her letter. She stated some people say that the victims of suicide are cowardly and selfish. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are self-centered because they are so overwhelmed with problems, but they are not selfish and they are not cowardly. In fact, they take their own lives because they feel they have nothing to contribute to those around them, that they have no right to breathe the air or eat the food that could be eaten by others, and that they should take their own lives because they have no right to live any more. They believe that their living hurts those around them and the only way to take away that hurt is to take away their own lives. Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for those precious to him." That is exactly what David was trying to do.
As I read the last passage again, I could not help but begin to cry as I had come to realize several years ago that David’s death saved me on several occasions, one night in particular.
John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for those precious to him.
After much prayer and soul searching, I know in my heart David’s death was part of the Lord’s plan. The Lord knew of David’s troubles and decided it was time for David to return to the Lord’s Table and wait for all of us. David's death helped to save my life, and someday other than the few I have confided in, I may be able to tell that story.
Psalm 23:6 - Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I WILL dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Life is but a blink of the eye, but to the Lord, it is an eternity as he waits for all his children to return to him.

No comments:

Post a Comment