Saturday, August 4, 2012

Death in the Family

My half-sister's husband, Ladd, committed suicide on Saturday, leaving behind my half-sister Kimberlee, and their children Emilee, Christianna, Samuel, Ladd, Wade, Rebekah and Mary Caroline. The funeral yesterday went as well as that sort of thing goes.

It started with a procession of fire trucks and a couple other official vehicles making their way to the church. The chief carried Ladd's cremains into the church and Kimberlee and all the kids rode in the first fire truck and were each escorted in by uniformed fire fighters. The family went in after that and then the rest of the crowd. There were a lot of people there. There were even people lining the sidewalk outside the fire station as we drove by on our way to the church.

A harpist was playing as people were seated. When the guests were seated, firefighters from Sturgis, Coldwater, Clay, St. Joe, Centerville, and a few others walked in and stood on either side of the pews, then were seated. It made quite an impact. Among them were also a few police officers, EMT's and a couple of city officials.

The first thing we did was stand and sing a hymn. Then the fire chief got up to speak and that was difficult. He told a lot of stories about Ladd's life at the fire station. One was that one day Ladd caught a giant spider at the fire station and had it in a bottle and was going to take it home to show the kids. He was showing everyone at the fire station during the day. One of the other firefighters is afraid of spiders and during the day the spider died so Ladd threw it away but put the empty bottle, open, in the other firefighter's locker. So he opened his locker and saw the spider bottle, empty, among his things. A few stories along those lines. He got choked up toward the end and had difficulty speaking. Ladd had been a firefighter there for 27 years.

The next speaker was Ladd's oldest daughter, Emilee. She told stories of memories she had of her dad, of how when she was a kid he would give her candy when they were out running errands and they would always hide the wrappers so Kim didn't know. How they had a special whistle so if they were in the woods and needed to find each other they could whistle. (Their house is in the woods.) How she would chop wood with him and she would say she couldn't do it and he would always tell her she could, and how he taught her endurance and perseverance. She spoke well and didn't get too choked up, but right after she spoke her younger sister Christianna, 15, was going to play the piano and sing a song she had written while they were searching for her dad, and when she got to the piano she burst into tears and couldn't do it. Luckily they had a recording of it so they played that instead and it was quite lovely.

After that, the pastor got up and talked a lot about sin. He did tell a story about how one time Ladd was holding a little child and standing on a deck and how the deck collapsed and Ladd just curled himself around the child and protected him from getting hurt while Ladd ended up getting a compound fracture in his ankle. We sang Amazing Grace, and then a friend of Ladd's spoke and read a bible passage.

I talked to Kim after and she said she had prepared herself for all those pieces of the funeral, but what she had forgotten was the call to duty that happened at the end, and when they got to that part she just cried so hard. One of the firefighters spoke and I'm pretty sure he was broadcasting from the fire station out onto the official channels. He said Ladd was at peace. Then the bagpipes played Amazing Grace and one of the firefighters stood at the box holding Ladd's cremains and gave a slow motion salute. The firefighters walked back out, each touching Ladd's helmet as they passed. Then a few came back in to escort the family out of the church.

I found myself getting so angry anytime they mentioned that Ladd left behind a wife and seven children. They had photos of the family outside and the photos were taken a month ago, and there was a slideshow of Ladd through the years, pictures of him at the Grand Canyon and other places, pictures with his kids, pictures with Kim, and it's just impossible to understand what happened. Emilee had also told a story of how she had gone through a period of depression in her teen years and how he encouraged her and told her time would heal and gave her wisdom. It's just difficult to comprehend. And very sad.

1 comment:

Colette said...


My heart goes out to you and your family. Words cannot express my deepest sympathy. If you need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate.