Thursday, November 9, 2017

The blog I'll probably never post

This blog started as a discussion of the practical application of Japanese martial arts.  Since then it has evolved into other things.  Sometimes it serves as a place for me to work out some things running through my head.  If things go my way that process can be worth reading to other folks.  This will be one of those blogs, and I don't really care if it is worth reading.  I feel it is worth writing.



I lost a friend last week.  We didn't "break up".  We didn't get into a fight.  He didn't move far away.
He suffered a tragedy, then killed himself.

Boom kick in the balls.  Right in "the feels" as the kids say.

I am thankful for the training I have received, especially things like Conflict Communications that inform you of the effects of emotion, and prepare you to "ride that wave" for lack of a more eloquent term.

In Rory's big seven from "Facing Violence", what I think of as Operational Disciplines, the seventh is AFTER.  Now here I am in the after.

One of the most powerful lessons, is that it is ok, to be ok.  If you are ok don't let anyone talk you into not being ok.  If you are not ok that is equally as natural a reaction and there is nothing wrong with that.  You are not weak.  Ok and not ok are not fixed points.  Sometimes you are ok until you are not, and you have to work back to ok.  Sometimes you are not ok, until you are.

I was at work, my phone was blowing up.  I looked it was Facebook messenger requests from Denis Long.  Ok, Jeff's dad you can be my friend, just later I don't have time for that now, I'm at work.

My phone continues to blow up.  Lise is calling me.  If it is important she will leave a voice mail.  I'll look at it later.  I am at work.



Later I needed to use my phone for something.  It has this feature where it translates voicemail to text.  So when I grabbed my phone I read:
Denis Long, Jeff's dad is trying to get a hold of you.  Jeff was napping with his daughter, somehow she suffocated.  When Jeff realized he could not revive her he shot himself.  Denis needs your help contacting Jeff's friends and letting them know.

Holy Shit!

Take a breath do something to affect the world around you - that is how you break a freeze, that is how you mitigate the effects of emotion.

I still couldn't really process, but I had a job to do, and I am the guy that gets things done...
Jeff's little girl is dead...Jeff is dead...

Boom kick in the balls.  Right in "the feels" as the kids say.

In law enforcement one of the duties you have to perform is death notifications.  Like all parts of law enforcement the training for that duty is inadequate.  However, I recall it is inculcated into you that you are of no use to the grieving family if you are a bundle of emotion.  Be hard, be a rock, be the strength that they need while the world is breaking apart.  You can cry and drink when no one is watching.



So I became hard.  I was ok mostly because I couldn't comprehend it yet, and I had work to do.
However, "being hard" apparently took up most of my cognitive capacity, so I laid a lot of that burden on my wife Jes.

Jes was a champ!  She started a contact tree, and soon everyone that should know, knew.  Without a spectacle.  Without involving people to whom this was non of their business.

My Chief had overheard some of my conversations and called me in to see how I was doing.  He earned a lot of respect from me that day from that conversation.  That conversation is for us.  However, I will share that talk ended along the lines of I think I'm ok to finish my shift today, but I realize I might not be ok and I might not be able to recognize that I'm not ok so, I'm going to take some days off starting tomorrow.  He made that happen.

Greg taught Judo that night.  Many times the Judo fight club works as therapy, but I felt that I needed to be with the girls that night.  Also, someone had to tell them what happened.  Jeff was like an Uncle to the older girls, and misinformation about the incident was already spreading in the media.



We went out to eat.  It was snowing and the day after Halloween so of course we listened to Christmas music.  When we got home we sat them down.

Fuck this is hard, what am I going to say?...you are of no use to the grieving family if you are a bundle of emotion.  Be hard, be a rock, be the strength that they need while the world is breaking apart.  You can cry and drink when no one is watching.

Guys, a couple of things, first there is nothing you could possibly do that is so bad that you can not be forgiven for.  Your mother and I love you very much and we will always love you no matter what.  Second, sometimes I joke about the stress of the job, just know that I will never leave you.  No matter what happens to me, even if I become broken I will never leave you, I will find a way to become whole again.
The reason I am telling you this is...
Fuck this is hard, what am I going to say?...you are of no use to the grieving family if you are a bundle of emotion.  Be hard, be a rock, be the strength that they need while the world is breaking apart.  You can cry and drink when no one is watching.

You guys remember Jeff, you were flower girls in his wedding.  He was napping with their baby Aubry, and she suffocated.  Jeff tried to revive her but he couldn't.  When he couldn't save her he shot himself.

Tears.  Lots and lots of tears.

My daughters and I have a lot of fun and we share a lot of interests.  Sometime I forget that they are not also crusty old cops, with decades of training and life experience, but very young girls with no training and still capable of the full array of human emotion.

So many tears.

The next day we played hooky and just spent time in each other's company.  That helped.  Me probably more than them. 

Through the contact tree Jes made people started coming together.  Friends I haven't seen in years were all gathering Friday night.

Friday morning I had a chance to hit the gym
Heavy Metal
Heavy Weight


Burning some of the angries off felt good.  But, I was not ok.  Things had started sinking in, I was no longer in shock, I was angry.

I'm not sure the source, but I remember back in the day at Mankato State Dr. Lewinski discussing grief saying - pain shared is pain divided.  Joy shared is joy multiplied.

That night we gathered and divided our pain.  You can cry and drink when no one is watching.  This was the time and place.

In the garage smoking with Jimmy away from other friends we were able to say things we couldn't say anywhere else.  Divide our pain.

I can't imagine waking up to a dead child.  I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing in his place.  But....
But, as much as I love him I am pissed at Jeff for leaving his wife not only to grieve for their child alone, but to have to grieve for him at the same time.  There I fucking said it.  I'm not proud of it but that is the thought screaming in my head.

I love you, I forgive you but I am angry with you.

Sharing that felt good.  But, I was not ok.  I was angry.  Sometimes angry is useful, or at least more useful than other "negative" emotions.

Emotion is just the firing of synapses and the release of hormones and chemicals into the blood stream.  How we perceive this process leads us to label the result negative or positive.

Being angry is more useful than being sad or afraid.  For me being angry is like wearing a well broken in shoe.  I am familiar.  So I embraced being angry.  I can be angry so I don't have to be sad.  I can hide angry.  I hide angry all the time.



Saturday was the funeral.  Saturday was rough.  I was a pallbearer, and honored by the sentiment.  As a pallbearer I was allowed and expected to spend time with the family in the private viewing room.  I wasn't sure where to go and somehow unwilling to find out.  Because I knew that the baby would be in there.  I knew when I saw her I would lose my shit.  Because then it was real.  It wasn't a sad story I had heard.  It wasn't a call I went to at work, then just turned it off - updated my facebook status or figured out what 90% of my one rep max for deadlifts is for tomorrow's workout.  That is the corpse of your friend's infant child right fucking there...Next to your dead friend.

Jes helped me find the room.  She asked me if I wanted to go in.  I was like a petulant child.  In my mind I was yelling "I DON"T WANNA!".  What the fuck fella?  I am Kasey Fucking Keckeisen.  How many times have I been the first guy through the door?  How the fuck am I afraid to go into this room?  Jes was strong for me when I could not be strong.  She knew I didn't want to,  but she also knew I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I didn't.  So she took me by the hand and helped me get into the private viewing room.


I didn't want to be sad so I put on angry like an old shoe.  I can hide angry.
I continued to be angry until I saw Jeff's wife Andrea.  She was holding the baby.  I can barely hold my shit together.  How is she not a puddle sucking her thumb rocking back and fourth in the fetal position on the floor?

She placed Aubry next to Jeff and we moved them into the chapel for the ceremony.

I was numb.

There was an opportunity to tell stories about Jeff.  They were passing a microphone around.

I thought maybe I could talk about that time at the dojo, Lauren patted Jeff on the stomach and said your tummy is just like Kung Fu Panda.

I started to raise my hand.  I got a lump in my throat.  Nope, no fucking way.  I was terrified.  Kasey Fucking Keckeisen, host, M.C., and one of the founders of Violence Dynamics.  Kasey Fucking Keckeisen who wants to have a retirement gig traveling the world public speaking and teaching large crowds.  Kasey Fucking Keckeisen who has never seen a microphone he didn't pick up and start rapping or doing wrestling commentaryinto.  That guy was afraid to speak.  That guy hid afraid by being angry.  Angry is easy.  Afraid feels weak.

Andrea was brave.  Andrea was strong.  Andrea stood in front of everybody and told her story.

She said that she knew that Jeff could not go on with out their daughter.  She also said that he knew
she could handle it.  Jeff knew she would be ok.

As much as I love him I was pissed at Jeff for leaving his wife not only to grieve for their child alone, but to have to grieve for him at the same time.

I was angry, then I was ok.

Earlier, I was ok until someone asked me how I was doing, then I had to focus on not crying
[Be hard, be a rock, be the strength that they need while the world is breaking apart]
So, clearly not ok.

After seeing Andrea and listening to her (pain divided) people asked how I was doing and I was ok.

Ok is not a fixed point.  Sometimes I am not ok.  Apparently I have... lets call it an emotional control reservoir.  When every thing is honky dory it is easy.  When things become more difficult the reservoir gets used up.  If I use up that reservoir forcing ok, I get mean fast.  Mean Kasey is far from the best version of Kasey.

Sometimes I am not ok, but getting back to ok becomes easier. 

What is done can not be undone, but we can learn from our experiences
I was afraid to go into a room.  I was afraid to talk.  I am not afraid to write.  I hate keyboard warriors but I see how one can be braver from behind the protection of the keyboard.  I hope none of you reading this experience the loss of a loved one.  If you do I hope having read this can help you in some way.

1 comment:

  1. There have been way too many suicides in our profession of late -- some that you can sort of wrap your head around, many that you just can't.

    We're paying the price for being strong, for being the rock, and it's not a fair deal or a bargain. Its' way, way too high a price. I'm glad you seem to recognize that you need to find ways and times to unburden yourself, and to divide the grief, to accept the anger you feel.

    There are no words I can write, hell, no words I could say were we face to face to soften or ease this. But at least know that you're not alone.

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