From My Sister, A True Story….
Saturday morning was finally here. We had lived through the worst, or so I thought.
Surely, we would be given some amount of peace over the weekend…some people would have to go home soon, and maybe the media would have something other than us to do over the weekend.
I was sitting in Sarah’s living room with my entire family of origin…mom, dad, brother, sister, spouses. We were drinking coffee and trying to deal…trying to have one hour where we did not cry, or sob…or answer the phone.
And then the house phone rang. Since I was the phone person, and the closest to the kitchen, I went in to answer it.
“Hi, is Chad there?”
My stomach dropped to the floor, again.
“What did you say?”
“I said, is Chad there?”
Now, I am quick on my feet and had been running the phones like a CEO, but even I was not prepared for that one. Buy some time, Krystn….
“Ummm…who is this?”
“This is his friend, Mike, from Arizona.”
“Well, I don’t know what planet you have been on for the past week, but, Chad died last Sunday. We just had his funeral yesterday.” I was prepared for disbelief, shouts out of swear words, anything, but what I got was silence.
“Mike, are you still there?”
“Yes, um, wow, well that is too bad. I had not heard. How did it happen?”
Something was odd about his voice, his manner…My flags went up fast. You would have had to have been on a deserted island in the South Pacific to NOT have at least heard that a man had died running the Chicago Marathon, and if you were a friend of Chad’s….
“He died running the Chicago Marathon.”
Now, when I look back, I think it is very odd that he did not ask about Sarah or the kids. I just knew his response was odd, so I asked him a question.
“How do you know Chad?”
“He and I were in the Academy together.”
“Oh, ok. Well, like I said, I am sorry I had to be the one to tell you.”
Actually, I was used to it now. I had told a lot of people a lot of things in the past week and I was just inured to the insanity of it.
I don’t know remember how we ended the phone call, but as soon as it was over, I realized my brow was furrowed and I had a weird feeling.
When I went back in the living room, Sarah’s radar had also gone up just from hearing my side of the conversation from another room. After I told her all about it, she instantly picked up her phone and called the Chief of Police, Jim St. Louis. He came right over.
He asked me to go over the entire conversation in great detail, and then he and Sarah talked a few minutes about this guy, and then Jim got up and left. I walked him to the door, and he said to me,
“I will be back in about ten minutes. When I get here, try to sneak me in to a room where I can talk to you alone. Don’t say anything about this to Sarah.”
Um…ok. Not exactly what you want to hear out of a cop’s mouth, but who am I to say one single thing after how odd this morning had become.
He did come back in in just a few minutes and somehow I snuck him into the farthest back bedroom, and blessedly Sarah had company and did not notice anything out of the ordinary chaos.
He told me that I could get my brother and my mother, so I did and then he stood against the door so no one could come in.
“I cannot tell you all the details but I am going to tell you this. Do NOT let those three children out of your sight. You can make a list of five people that they can be with and then those five people have to sign them in and out of this house. We will have 24 hour protection on all of you until further notice.”
I know that we were all stunned. I think we tried to ask a couple of questions, but he just said, again,
“I cannot tell you anything right now. We can only tell Sarah part of this. She has enough to worry about. We will keep you all safe.”
We gave him five names…other than the three of us…who we would let the children be with. We had not made the decision about when they would go back to school. He explained that there would be police protection at the schools when they went back and we were to let him know. He then quickly left, making sure that Sarah did not see him as he went out the front door.
We all looked at each other, completely stunned.
A little while later, Sarah did bring it all up again. She told us that she was pretty sure who that Mike was…that he was a guy who had been caught lying, wanted Chad to also lie for him and, of course, Chad refused. Mike had been thrown off the force and had left the state and had sort of had a grudge against Chad and all of Midland. I know that I squirmed in my seat as she was telling us all this…I wanted to tell her ALL of what Chief St. Louis had said, but, I carefully laid out the parts he told me I could tell her, and she cried. Again. More. When, dearest Lord, when, could we have just one minute where it was not one trauma on top of another?
So, the kids got checked in and out of the house. Many of Chad’s dear men friends were stepping up to try and do things with them and take them out for some fresh air and to give them any sort of NORMAL, whatever that was. Mom and I kept track of where they were at all times and felt uneasy when the kids were on an outing.
And, I saw them. The plainclothes police, the cars in places around our block, the police cruisers parked in front of the house late at night. I loved it, knowing they were there. They were all wonderful people who had loved Chad dearly. They were grieving, too, and devoted to this family in a way that can only come from the brotherhood they are a part of.
But, it did not matter. In fact the night of the next scary occurrence, I was the last to bed and at one am on Thursday, Oct. 18, there was a cruiser sitting right out at the end of the driveway when I turned out the light and went to my bed in the basement.
When I woke up in the morning, all hell had broken loose.
Sarah had gotten Abbi up early to go to swim practice before school. It was to be her first day back, after nearly two weeks away for the worst happening in her life.
As they pushed the front door open to leave, they noticed that an envelope had been taped to it.
They opened it up and found a typed out white sheet of paper with these words on it:
If a man could be two places at one time I'd be with you
Tomorrow and today, beside you all the way
If the world should stop revolvin' spinning slowly down to die I'd spend the end with you
And when the world was through
Then one by one the stars would all go out
Then you and I would simply fly away-
Sarah freaked out! We all freaked out! If we were under 24 hour police protection, how could this have happened? What do we do now? She called the police who of course came right over and who of course stepped up their watch for several more days.
But, the weirdness continued.
Sarah was followed in a car that was exactly like Chad’s Dodge Charger patrol car, but she knew that it was not, and when she picked up her phone to call 911, the guy quickly turned away.
My two sons and I were out for a ride…something we did each evening to get away from that house and all that crazy pain. We drove out to Sanford and back and on the long, lonely stretch of highway between the two towns, a car sped up behind us and tried to run us off the road. We were totally terrified and called 911, but again, the car sped away, and it was all I could do to calm down and get my act together before we went back home. It was weeks before I told Sarah about that one….I just could NOT add anything else to all that she was worried about.
The Chief had told me that tragedy brings out all the weirdo’s, and that it would eventually simmer down. He was right and it did. But not before the anxiety and the worry and the stress of this sinister layer of creepy had taken its toll on all of us, vulnerable and sorrowful and in pain.