This blog post was pretty difficult to write. At the time of his death, I didn’t feel worthy to write about it, be at his funeral, or even take photos. Try not to think lowly of me. These are my true, unfiltered thoughts. I’m only writing about this because I was deeply moved by the whole ordeal and felt compelled to get my feelings out.
This post is dedicated to Ssgt (officer) Brad Fox who died unnecessarily in the line of duty as a police officer.
Here’s the story
I didn’t actually know Ssgt Fox personally. He was a former marine who was stationed at the same unit my husband Vince was stationed in Allentown, PA. He actually retired from the marines not long after Vince was stationed there. The only contact I’ve had with Ssgt Fox was at a Marine Corps Ball where I asked a whole bunch of Marines and their wives to fill out a survey I was conducting for my Ethics class in college. The fact that I didn’t really know him though didn’t matter. Not because of the whole Marine Corps, “we are all family” ideal but because at this unit.. they all really were. All the Marines at this unit were close. You could see it whenever we all got together. It wasn’t even a private closeness that you couldn’t touch, but all of these Marines including their wives/girlfriends were really open to welcoming you. I wish I had gotten to know all of them better while we were still in PA but that chapter is already written.
I got the call from Vince the night Ssgt Fox died. He kept telling me over the phone, keep in mind Vince was still back in GA and didn’t come with me on this trip home, that a Marine from his former unit had been killed. I couldn’t put Ssgt. Fox’s face to name and even though I felt pretty terrible about this news, it was not (I could not think of an appropriate term to use) –a part of me?– not unimportant but not fully within my awareness spectrum– I don’t know. I just knew that it rattled Vince pretty badly and that I could hear his distress and this distressed me as well. It wasn’t until the next day that more information about his death was revealed and his face, name, and memory all came to light.
It might seem pretty bad, terrible of me to say, but his death.. seemed almost not real? Like how could this human being suddenly just not exist? It was surreal.
What actually hurt me about this death, and I do mean hurt, as in made my heart ache and feel heavy, was finding out that his wife was left behind with their baby daughter and was expecting their next child. The whole time, from the moment I found this info out, all the way through the funeral service while I cried, and even now, I battle with this one thought. I know how she feels. But I don’t really know know since my husband is currently sleeping beside me and my child is sleeping soundly in his room knowing that his “dada” will be here tomorrow after work.. but I know. I probably shouldn’t say this at all since I’m still blessed with my husband..but again, I know! I feel that every human being has the capacity to know grief. Maybe not from the same events, but they will know it in some form. …
(quick topic change – my frame of mind)
for those of you who know me well, you know that I have “gathering” nightmares where I literally try to somehow decide what I need in the face of the end of the world. What can I pack in this little car that will save my child? How can I run and carry loo without zombies getting at him? I have these “gathering” daydreams as well where they give me super anxiety. Stupid I know. But my crazy imaginings are mostly due to my over imagination.
(back to what I was previously saying)
With every new news report about this incident, with every thought of her loss.. I literally transformed this nightmare into my own. What if I lost Vince? How would I care for Loo? What if I was pregnant and lost Vince? How would I birth this kid alone? .. I know, these are all kind of obnoxious thoughts. But seriously, I really really really felt for Lynsay, Ssgt Fox’s wife, and I really could feel her sorrow..even though I feel like I shouldn’t say such things.
When Ssgt Fox’s funeral date was set, Vince was all upset about not being able to attend. I told him I would go for him. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty apprehensive about going. I was going to be going alone, I am not a Marine where I could go in my dress blues and stand with them, and I was not close enough to the wives of the Marine’s attending where I could attach myself to their group. Not that I couldn’t have if I asked, but I didn’t feel right asking when they were truly there mourning the loss of their friend and I was there to pay my respects. Not really the same level and this wasn’t a social moment. When I got there, I was shuffled along with other attendees where we were moved passed the open casket. I’ve only been to one other viewing. The first one was of my great uncle. I liked him a lot but he had lost his battle with cancer. It was horrible to see him lying there. I had not thought the casket at Ssgt Fox’s funeral would be open. I’m not going to lie. It was horrible to see him lying there as well. It gave me shivers and I almost cried seeing him lying there so devoid of life. The only time I’d been with him, he’d always been smiling. It was.. horrible.
Needless to say, I don’t want to have to go see another viewing. Ever. Again.
Right before the service began I was able to make my presence known to some Marines that I knew and to give them my condolences from myself and from Vince. Soon after, we were all shuffled back into the church when the services began. I was separated from the Marines and I actually ended up standing next to the piano area, in front of a window. The service itself was actually pleasant.. considering that it was a funeral service. It had me crying though. I felt like… I shouldn’t have cried. Who was I? A stand in amongst friends, family, and true mourners..and yet I bawled like a baby. It didn’t help either that the window I was in front of was the draftiest catholic window I have ever had the displeasure of standing in front of, that had me shaking from all the cold air it was blasting on me. It also made me painfully aware that I was wearing sandals. I was kind of ashamed that I forgot to wear more funeral appropriate shoes..but I was in a tizzy and I only brought bright colorful shoes home..
This is the letter Lynsay wrote to Brad for the Funeral, read by her sister. This had me legitimately bawling.
After the service, we were again all shuffled outside to see the funeral brigade drive off. By the way, the amount of police officers/ marines that showed up in support was outrageous and wonderful. The lines of cars that followed was massive. Police from all over, some from Pa and some outside of state showed up. This was the only time I whipped out my camera..but even then I kind of felt dirty to take photos. So excuse the poor quality. You can tell my hesitation was apparent.
This was only one road of which a ton of police cars waited to join the procession. There were also ambulances, firetrucks, and civilian cars that were a part of this procession.
Farewell Ssgt Fox.
I’m sorry for my erratic thoughts and feelings, however, this is how I felt. Inappropriate or not. This funeral definitely left a profound feeling in my heart. It shook me and I will never forget it. I was honored to have shared this moment with everyone who cared so much about him and can I say that there were a great GREAT many who did. He really did touch a lot of people. I can only hope that I can touch as many lives as he did. Rest in Peace Ssgt. Fox and Semper Fi.