Tomorrow, it will have been twenty years since my first husband, Trooper James A. (“Drew”) Griffith of the Maine State Police was killed in the line of duty. This is the last picture ever taken of him.
DrewpictureIt appeared in the local newspaper to illustrate a story about the Maine State Police’s pilot project in community policing: Drew was going to be the first Trooper to try it out.
A friend cut the picture out of the paper and brought it to me at church in case I hadn’t seen it. I hadn’t—and throughout the sermon I kept taking it out of my pocket, unfolding it and looking at it, then putting it away again. He was, I thought, so handsome and looked so happy.
That evening, I pasted the clipping into our photo album and then—uncharacteristically—I wrote a prayer around it. “Dear God, take care of him.”
The next morning, he was killed instantly when his cruiser was struck broadside by a fully-loaded box truck.
I suppose I could have said that God did not answer my prayer. Or that there is no God. But I believe in God-is-Love, and God-is-Love is who I prayed to, that night and ever afterward.
God-is-Love came flying down the roads, blue lights flashing, to bring Drew’s comrades to the scene of his accident; God was present in the tender hands of the paramedic (a neighbor and friend) who felt my husband’s last heartbeats; God was there in the prayers of the truck driver who could have been defensive but instead took on more than his share of responsibility for the tragedy and let it break his sweet, good heart.
God was baked into every casserole brought by my neighbors and steeped into every cup of Tension Tamer tea my friends and I shared. God was in the funeral home, where Mr. Moss, three troopers and Mom helped me get Drew dressed and ready for his funeral. God was the strength in the arms of Drew’s pallbearers, the crispness of their last salutes, the grace with which they folded his flag into a tidy triangle of stars, God was the governor slipping off his suit jacket, draping my youngest in it because she looked chilly, before handing that flag to me.