My feeling towards Wednesdays these days is even worse than the way I feel about Tuesdays.
In continuation from yesterday's post...
I think we left the police station sometime around 1:30 am on Wednesday. We left with the instructions, "we'll let you know if we hear anything". They also sent a car to our house to make sure my husband hadn't shown up there, in the meantime, while we were still at the station. Of course...that never happened.
Unfortunately, the cell phone pings indicated one of three counties could be involved - in addition to the forest service and park ranger service. We live just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest and on the border of two counties with Pisgah in part of another. That meant...we were potentially in for a bureaucratic mess...indeed it was. The Parkway police would not be making "rounds" again until 7:00 am. I couldn't wait that long! I had to go look for him myself.
Lorie was the level-headed thinker between the two of us at this point. She thought ahead to call one of our pastor friends and ask if he'd drive me around to look for Chris and/or his truck. She stayed at the house with my 14-year-old daughter, who'd been with us this entire time so far.
As Carl and I ventured out...it happened to be on the night of the last "cold spell" for the season. It was May 4, and we were driving around in temperatures in the low-thirties, rain followed by sleet & snow the higher we went in elevation. The fog was so dense we could hardly see 6 inches in front of us. I kept thinking, how are we going to see Chris' truck in this dense fog? But, I knew I had to try.
We returned to the house several hours later with nothing...no leads...nothing.
Lorie and I stayed up (who could sleep at a time like this anyway) and just talked, questioned and then started to formulate a plan. We needed help. The police weren't going to be the ones to help us.
Soon after, Chris' mother and sisters arrived from Virginia. They took off in search of him too but made a first stop at his work to fill in his co-workers (they run a third shift, so we knew somebody would be there that early). They, too, were in shock.
We decided around 5:30 in the morning...we were going to explode this thing using social media, emails, and the local news.
Explode it did! I cried and cried. I couldn't believe the number of people willing to help us find my Chris. A friend of a friend even offered to take his plane up to look for him over the dense woods...and, he did just that.
I stayed at the house in case Chris came home or in case someone stopped by that had might have a lead we could explore. It was quite the hub of activity. People were in and out all day long. The phone dinged all day long with text messages, Facebook and Twitter alerts, and phone calls.
Then...the results of the plane fly-over...no Chris. BUT...there were two areas in the general vicinity of the cell phone pings that were simply too dense to see through by plane. When I heard where those two areas were...I knew they still had to be searched by car. They were two areas that Chris frequently hunted.
Within 15 minutes of a car headed to one of those locations...I got the call..."We found the truck. We'll call you back when we find Chris." My heart and stomach leaped for joy and sunk at the same time. FINALLY...we had SOMETHING. But, we didn't have Chris. Oh no...please let him just have a broken ankle or something and not be able to walk...please, God. Please God. Please God!
It was almost 2 hours later when they walked in the house. A group of some of my closest friends from church, and I could tell by the looks on their faces, it wasn't good. The shock was already setting in - ready to buffer my body for the news soon to follow. Carl looked at me and said, "Leah, do you have someplace we can go and talk?" He and another lady or two soon followed me into my bedroom and bathroom. I just had to get away from the 20 or so people gathered in the house at this point. I knew the news was not going to be good.
I remember very few specifics of what followed the next several hours. I remember bits and pieces of words, actions. Something like this...
I was told Chris had been found dead.
Chris had taken his own life.
Utter disbelief set in. This couldn't be the Chris I knew.
Pains erected from my stomach, went straight up into my heart and my throat that came out as moans, cries, and screams.
I couldn't stand. I couldn't sit. I could only lay down.
I remember people praying over me.
I remember my senior pastor kneeling by my side as he prayed.
I remember seeing my friend, Lorie, at my feet speaking powerful words to make the enemy flee.
I remember when the crying ceased, and I moved from my bathroom floor to bedroom floor where my daughter layed down beside me.
I had cried so much. I could only stare now. Shock. Deep shock.
At some point, I remember being in the living room again and seeing so many other faces for the first time. Someone then shared that the detectives had been outside waiting to speak with me (and had been for quite awhile)...could I speak with them now? Whatever.
They came in, paid their respects, asked a few very basic questions, confirmed the suicide and then said they'd be back next week. Whatever.
The funeral home director had also stopped by (a friend of mine actually).
I couldn't talk but one syllable words...maybe one or two a minute. Shock. Deep shock.
I don't know when it happened, but the later it got...exhaustion set in. I had been up for two straight days. I now knew where Chris was. I crawled up on the couch to lay down. I didn't care who was still there. Anna had already gone home with Lorie to stay with her family for a few days. So, it was just me and the friends that surrounded me. But, I physically couldn't do it anymore. I closed my eyes and slept the last few hours of Wednesday.