Death, The Last Enemy

Paulen Swope

Saturday morning, September 7th, 1996, my husband, Andy, left for work early like he did most days. I don't recall if I even rolled over to say, "goodbye." Hours later, a couple and the police were at my door. Clueless, "accident" and "death" were nowhere in my mind as the representative of Northrop Grumman tells me there was an accident and Andy was killed. Those words go over and over in my mind, haunting me to this day. I don't say "lost" because I didn't lose Andy. Rather, he was ripped from my heart and now there is only a gaping hole left.

You see, we had moved to Florida in October of 1995 and in May, 1996 bought our first hoouse. Andy had retired from the Navy after almost 21 years. Oh, the Navy and all the time he spent on cruises and detachments. Finally, we were never going to have to do that again. We had so many planss, but mostly, just for the two of us to be there for our two teenagers, Will and Shannon. And now this. I was never prepared for this kind of detachment.

We had worked hard on our relationship and had achieved a truly, loving marriage.

I''m very angry at the ones who caused his death by their stupidity and negligence. I'm angry at the company who doesn't owe up to its responsibility to us. I'm angry that those negligent people are still employed (talk about job security). I'm angry at the Navy( who conducted the investigations but aren't sharing the information) that they feel no obligation to someone who gave them 21 years of his life. Why should I be surprized? Politics and big businesses rule this world. I'm angry that their lives go on like nothing happened.

You see he was a kind and intelligent person. I always say that is a rare combination. He could do anything and he did so much. I saw so much personal growth in the 16 years that I knew him. And now I have to go on but not knowing how, I stumble and fall, aching for his arms to catch and hold me. My o n l y hope is for the time when there will be no more death, sorrow or tears (Rev. 21:4). The last enemy, death, will be gone. And ultimately, there will be justice.

Paulen Swope

You can send email to Paulen at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 09-07-96
date of post 04-05-97

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW