Sunday, March 17, 2019

the one in which I take on a giant

Life lately... volume something. 

Lately I was pretty convinced that I was onto something a little more stable, a little more predictable, a little more not so sad.  Then I remembered that I'm just me, and not able to leap mountains and hurdle life's troubles like they're just some little ol' thing.  And I remembered that every time I think grief is a manageable task, it proves to me that it isn't.  

And y'all a few notes on that..... I've had so many people tell me that they understand how I feel because they've lost a parent or a sibling or a friend.  And to that I say, no.  Just no.  And then I tell them to see my own personal checklist.... all parents gone.  Siblings gone.  Best friend gone.  Husband gone.  ...  And that the loss of a spouse doesn't even resemble the loss of the others, as bad as they feel and trust me that I know,... they're just not the same magnitude and scale.  

What I mostly appreciate is when people tell me that they would never assume to understand how I feel since they haven't gone through the loss of their husband.  Those are appropriate and caring words for the grieving among us.  

I also stood back and listened the other day at work to a few gals chatting about their frustrating husbands, their husband's annoying habits, ...... all the girl talk between those that still have a husband to talk about.  So I tried not to listen.  Then I tried not to tell them to get down on their knees and thank God for the annoying thing their person did that day... as it can be all taken away from them in minutes.  For me it was about 10 minutes, actually.  10 minutes before I had just watched Fireman Dave play football with the boys, then he was gone. 

So please go love on your people.  Laugh at their silly, annoying things, and be thankful that you have a shared life to build a conversation upon.  Or don't, and then look back one day and wish you had.  

This past week was Spring Break and I sent the boys to Houston to spend time with their cousins.  And here is the crew.  (I actually spring breaked in Probate Court for those who are curious. But not the entire week.)  

Movies, bowling, basketball, and a trip to be together where good things happened was what this week was about.  The last time these kids were together, they all saw the tragedy that life can bring on in an instant.  And how life turns from front yard football games to saying goodbye - so this week I am thankful for my neice who took care of my share of the bunch, took them in, and gave them good memories of time together to outweigh all the rest.  This is probably where I should do some sort of social media hashtag thing and start a following of people I don't know commenting on my kids.  But no.  These days I just want to keep them all close and sheltered from the world.  For at least a bit longer anyway.  

And this:  

Kid 1 committed to play football for his first choice school, Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.  We had the wonderful opportunity to participate in National Signing Day and to sign his letter of intent to the school.  Lord help me as I deal with sending him off that far from home;  and help me not to check real estate listings in the metro Jackson area during  my times of weakness.  

Actually I didn't love Jackson when we went to visit, but I think it's because we took a wrong turn and ended up in a place that resembled one of those gang ridden areas you see in scary movies where there are drugs and violence and people in bandanas.  However, once we found our correct way, and I discovered that they indeed have a Whole Foods and some really nice boutique shopping, I totally got on board with it and looked at a couple of For Sale properties just out of curiousity.  For investment purposes only... but now that my options are wide open, ....  

Fireman Dave and I actually fell in love with Nashville, Tennessee and had been doing some future planning for our retirement years.  Will I have retirement years?  Are you there God?  It's me, Kristi.  ..... Please let me have retirement years full of peaceful places, nice people and a better attitude.  Amen.  

But getting to that point basically involves getting through a brick wall.  And here is the latest update on our situation.  

First, still no final death certificate which I think is some giant cosmic joke.  So no.  No life insurance proceeds at this time.  This better be worth it, Fireman Dave, just let me say.  

And regarding the final wages and the health insurance, a few weeks ago I wrote a letter to The City of Dallas, specifically the benefits department, and sent it to a few key people.  I soon received a phone call from the Assistant City Manager who invited me to meet with him to work out some, um... things.  As he said, I got his attention.  

So we met two weeks ago and I had the opportuntity to tell him, along with the Chief of Staff of the Big City Manager, or whatever his title is, plus two lawyers who tried to look at me with sad and caring eyes, but didn't fool me for a second ... how they have affected my family's life.  It will be four months next week and they have still not paid me my husband's final paycheck.  It will be four months that I have had to pay $1100 monthly premiums to remain on the COBRA health insurance since they removed me and the kids from their plan 7 days after Fireman Dave died.  And along with the President of our local Fire Union, and my dear and lovely friend, the Dallas Fire Chaplain, I was able to tell them that it is evident that this city does not care about their first responders and how each of our days has been affected by their decision to put the dollar value of an insurance plan over and above the life value of a near 20 year veteran firefighter.  

We are asking for a policy change to allow survivors of Active Duty Death the same benefits as those of Line of Duty Death.  The only difference in more cases than not, being location and timing of the death.  Had my husband been at the station or within 24 hours of his last shift when he passed, I would not be dealing with the issues that I am now.  

And honestly, I believe that the City called that meeting hoping to give me a bit of false assurance and mostly, really, to get me to be quiet.  But they obviously haven't read too much of my blog.  So I continue to send follow up emails to certain key officials regarding this policy change, and will soon move on to bigger and louder sources of spreading the word about how the City of Dallas treats their first responders.  I'm happy to be David to their Goliath... and fully realize that if this was a TV show or movie, I should be looking out for hired hit men to run me over with a van or take me out after step aerobics in the gym locker room.  Oh the drama that death, anger and sadness bring.  

But y'all this policy change is bigger than the Walters family.  The Dallas Fire Rescue recently had a forced retirement due to an illness, and to ensure continued health coverage for this fireman's family should he die, he had to sign his retirement papers right there in his hospital bed.  Can we all say the word, WRONG?  And there are countless other stories just like his and mine.  

Maybe I just happen to be the one willing to fight for it to change.  And on that note... I will be holding a garage sale very soon to support not only my efforts at change and/or paying my stupid health insurance premiums, but to raise awareness of how ridiculously expensive college tuition is for a part time fitness instructor and mom of three teen boys.  (And to answer the pressing question that I hear often, why don't I just find other insurance at a cheaper price?  Because if I quit now, the City will have no obligation to do anything.  So basically it's a contest of who's gonna blink first.  Who are you betting on?).  

And if you have junk that is sitting around and you want to contribute to the Kristi campaign, let me know.  You can email me at

More on my emotional state later... but short version:  after I marched strong on the City on a Monday, I melted down completely on a Tuesday, crying most of the day for any and every reason, and laid in bed and occasionally ate cookies.  Grief is a road, for sure.  It might be like that long historic Route 66 Highway tour that we took a scenic vacation to see not long ago.  Sights and sounds of the past, mixed in with long stretches of dry and deserted spaces, and no end in sight.  Thank goodness for interesting roadside stops along the way.  

Would you like to comment?

  1. Well, don’t stop writing because I’m going to continue to repost these blogs and spread the word. And I think I have some things for your sale so I’ll get with Pat on bringing them to you. But, Dallas FR needs to know-none of us blink. If you need any support in this-moral support, strength in numbers, letter writing, etc., I’m a text away!

  2. Kristi,
    I stand with you in love,prayer,and support.I admire your strength and attitude . Thank you for sharing your son's last week. They are truly amazing young men.
    I Love you.

  3. I have plenty to donate to your sale. Let me know if have room for more where and when to bring it. Love You!! Mered


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