Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Point of Light...

I have been away from my kitchen table and as most of you know why...on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, my son-in-law Jay Sheridan was shot and killed in the line of duty.    He was lost to us through the darkness and evil of this world.  BUT I know that he was taken to be with our Lord in Heaven.   I have so many things in my thoughts and on my heart but at this place and this time...I share a little piece.   But before I share anymore, I want to say THANK YOU even though the words do not seem enough for all of the love and support that our family has been given!   All of the outpouring of love and "light" in this time shows that there is more that are good than those who do not know love...

And so because it is what I do...I write...I want to share my thoughts of a very special person even though this is a very personal and hard time...I feel a need to share...

Jay sharing his "gifts"

I was lead to a scripture after all this happened in Psalms  91:14-16 in my Living Bible:

"For the Lord says, 'Because he loves me, I will rescue him, I will make him great because he trusts in my name.  When he calls on Me I will answer; I will be with him in trouble, and rescue him and honor him.   I will satisfy him with a full life and give him my salvation.'
And at first I cried..."Why didn't You rescue him?"  But then I was reminded of how Jay was doing what he loved and though he was not rescued in the sense that I wanted him to be...he gave his life protecting those he loved.  We were given the comfort that Jay died instantly--that he did not suffer...in times as these you take all the little comforts that you can get!

It went on to say I will make him great...and also honor him.    For those of you who were a part of the ceremonies honoring Jay's life...you can not say anything more than what our "Firecracker" summed up at the end of the fireworks as she went to her mother and in that childlike innocence that seems to transform past any thing that the most studied scholars could say...I will never forget her looking to her mama and pointing to the sky and saying what I do not recall ever hearing her say before--"WOW!"

A whirlwind that I do not know if I can capture all but things I want to write down so that someday my Firecracker Izzy will have yet another memory of her daddy the hero.  While the others went to the viewing, I held a precious little sleeping girl in my arms and we "rocky byed".   I caught a pic of her laying in my arms and holding her little lamb and prayed that this little "lamb" would also be cared for...

Monday night was to honor Jay's faith and the faith of his mother and family in having a Mass.   In honoring Jay's desire...Isabel Marie Sheridan was also baptized.   This is definitely not a common occurrence...but like I said--you are dealing with Jay and Isabel Sheridan.  But you know it seemed to symbolize this thing called life in every phase...and it was tied together with the theme of love--a theme that was definitely shared by these two...the circle of life.


I came across a text I had on my phone from Jay replying to a picture I had sent of his little "Peanut" in sunglasses playing at the park one day on one of our "Firecracker Flex Fridays".   Jay was on his way to the doctor with a friend when I had sent it...Anyway I came across this text that I had saved because it was words that I wanted to remember.   Her daddy's reply was, "Looking hot and having fun.  She's kinda a big deal."   And Isabel, words like that are ones that some never hear...but know that your daddy thought you were something special!

Anyway the service Monday night was one of comfort and one of  hope...one that because of our faith...we can know that we will see Jay again some day and that he has gone to our Heavenly Home where my prayer is that we all will go some day.    In one of the days of this time, I wrote:

Our God is an awesome God!  I wish that we did not have to go through what we are going through.  I have faith Lord but it is as though a dripping faucet--but even a dripping faucet can fill a pail.  Fill my pail Lord--open up the spicket to my soul.  Give us "water" to drink.  As little Isabel said when they baptized her--when the water was poured on her hands..."More--More!"  
And as usual I get sidetracked but a side trip I wanted to share. BUT this is where the honor came in.   Tuesday was a day I will never forget...a day that I have never seen anything like...and as many said--hope I never see again.   While the others went earlier to see the MANY flowers...I stayed behind with my nephew Ethan, "sister" Jo, and Izzy at the house and then we would go later.    And as we were driving through the sea of people and waves and waves of police officers and police cars I wondered how close we would be able to get.  I have to say that this about took my breath away to the point almost of overwhelming.   There was an officer, I am not sure from where, standing guard at the road leading to where we needed to go and I rolled down my window and said we have Izzy Sheridan with us...he smiled and said to pull right up front and park in the circle if we needed to.   It made us all smile and feel a sense of pride...and yes Jay, these guys were looking out for your little girl...your "Peanut" cause you and I both know...she's kinda a big deal!

I have heard numbers ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 of police officers alone were there, as well as many family, friends, and just others wanting to pay respect.   I am not sure if we will ever know how many.  The Limon gymnasiums were filled as well as others outside.  Jay's friend, Officer Michael Yowell, gave one of the most touching and inspiring words for his friend that I have ever heard.  And his words touched the hearts of many...I continue hearing what an awesome job he did.   But in Michael knowing Jay so well...I remember at one point the whole place boomed with laughter...now if that's not a gift for your friend who loved to laugh...it touched my heart...and I love you all the more Mike for that! Then how he had all of those fellow officers stand and just how much honor seemed to fill the room.   A sense of honor I have never experienced before.  Honor for a guy that was just an "ordinary" guy yet left this world as a hero...but I said Jay had that little "something-something".   You can't put your finger on it...but he was special.

I remember the "Chief" standing up in front as the last call was played...and we all held our breath...waiting for the recording of Jay signing off.    And seeing the Chief say, "Come on buddy!"  And thinking to myself...Jay is still messing with you guys!   Chief Yowell and his family are one special bunch!!  THANK YOU!

Jay's final ride in the horse drawn carriage (with Isabel and Heather riding next to fellow officer Jake who was recently released from the hospital from his own health fight) was one that will forever be engraved in my mind and heart as the bagpipes played and we all marched through the ever going waves of police officers who lined the streets of the town of Limon.  As they stood at attention--paying respect and honor to Jay for giving the ultimate sacrifice for his job--but also respect and love to the family and friends that are left behind...wondering what will we do without him.   As I told my daughter on that fatal night (as she was surrounded by other wives, sons, and daughters still waiting to see what the night would hold for the men that they loved) when I held her in my arms...an experience that I wish no one would have to go through...my advice to her was just to breathe! 

I remember at the cemetery and hearing the bagpipes (that seem to continue playing in my ears even now) and then having to take little Izzy to see what was making that trumpet sound playing "Taps".   Watching from behind as my daughter was held by her brother and given a flag of honor by the Chief who was another "father" in Jay's law enforcement family.   
Governor Hickenlooper,
Chief Yowell's daughter--Amie "pit bull" Yowell :),
Aunt Autumn, P-pa, Great Grandpa Pfeiff
 all surrounding Izzy and her Mama

I made note in the cafeteria as Isabel and the Governor made "fish faces"...Jay had two families...His family that shared his name and extended through his marriage to Heather...but also this family of those in the brotherhood of law enforcement.  

And I go back to the scripture I was given and I remember reading this and it said "FULL" life and I said, "What do You mean full life?"  He was so young...and it hit me that it did not say a LONG life it said a FULL life!    And I think of the words of my brother Shane, although the translation might be somewhat different...that if you have the love of a good woman, children you love and love you, friends and family who love you, and on top of that love what you do, and have a faith in Jesus that will carry you through the hard times...and I think yes he had a full life in the short time that he had here with us!   He had more in his short amount of years than some hope for in such a longer span of time...

After the graveside was over I was holding Izzy and she wanted to see the flowers.   I took her over there and she got down to look at the flowers in her pretty little dress that her daddy had picked out for her for Christmas...Out of the corner of my eye, I seen the photographer, and I stepped back as this was a moment that I wanted captured to share with our little Isabel some day when we could try to explain this day.   This picture that I knew was a special one...ended up on the front page of the Denver Post.   And though it was hard in some ways with the press--part of me knew that there were many others that should know and wanted to know about my "favorite son-in-law"--Jay Sheridan.

Photo taken by Aaron Ontiverost...Denver Post

And so I end this with a link to a couple videos that was made as a tribute...to this fallen hero!  The first was done by an EMT who said she, "did not know him real well but Jay was the officer with me when I had my one CPR save and he played a huge part in saving that woman's life."   And though these are painful to see...I was given words from my cousin Carol who when talked of losing someone we love...
"When I lost Phyllis, I can't describe to you the anguish, and I don't have to because you understand it but when I thought about not hurting, what not feeling that pain meant I realized that to take away the pain would devalue the love.

Would I have wanted to be without her in my life? Heck, no. I treasure every minute of time I had with her and if having that means hurting now, then I choose to hurt now. I can't think of any greater tribute to give a person than feeling pain when we're separated.

Its an uncomfortable, horrible feeling but I will gladly suffer it for the gift of having them in my life for however long I had them. That's no comfort but it makes it easier to bear. For me, it does anyway. I would do anything for my sister, including suffer."
And Carol I share your words because they have given such comfort as I know so many share this feeling and I want to share with others as we could easily put Jay's name in here...or others could put names in there and so I Thank you!

YouTube Tribute by FFLilFox

Denver Post Tribute

As I conclude this...even though I know I will probably have others related to this topic--as it has been an event in my life that has forever changed me...Before the services, we were going through songs and pictures. Jay's brother, Shane, seemed to have this song come to him that I think says so much to all of us.   This song is one that we should all think about.   I think Jay's life reflected this and in leaving his daughter who brings us so much joy has left us a living "point of light" in addition to the "Light" that we receive from God.   I was told of a friend who said that during the service, little Izzy was like having a ball that was being passed around and whoever got to hold the "ball" got a break from all that was around us...our light in this darkness!   So read these words in a song sung by Randy Travis and stop and maybe just think of this day and...if you see something wrong "just try to make it right"...and you will be a "Point of Light"...and together this "light" can help against the darkness...

"There's a point when you cannot walk away
There's a darkness that everyone must face
There are heroes whose names we never hear

When you have to stand up straight and tall and mean the words you say
It wants to take what's good and fair and lay it all to waste
A dedicated army of quiet volunteers

There's a point you must decide just to do it 'cause it's right
And that darkness covers everything in sight
Reaching out to feed the hungry reaching out to save the land

That's when you become a point of light
Until it meets a single point of light
Reaching out to their fellow men.

All it takes is a point of light a ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what's wrong and you try to make it right you will be a point of light.

There are dreamers who are making dreams come true
Taking time to teach the children there's nothing they can't do.
Giving shelter to the homeless giving hope to those without.
Isn't that what this land's all about.
One by one form the mountains to the sea points of light
Are calling out to you and me

All it takes is a point of light a ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what's wrong and you try to make it right
You will be a point of light."

"This is the message God has given me to pass on to you:
That God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."     (1 John 1:5 Living Bible)
I will miss you Jay...giving me a hard time...calling me "Sweetness"...special times with you and your family...but I have stored many memories of you in my heart.  We also have a constant reminder of you by seeing your little Izzy and how she has certain things that are no doubt a part of her daddy.   I had someone tell me "I know a little girl who was supposed to be born. She's a light in this world that wouldn't be here if not for Heather and Jay being together. That alone makes Jay's life worthwhile. He left a piece of his soul behind."  But not just with your "Peanut" but in so many ways...you have touched our lives deeply and for that I thank you!
Love your "favorite mother-in-law"

This picture says so much to me...
it is the last picture I took of Jay as they were helping P-pa do chores.
I see on his face that he might have been thinking, "there she is taking another picture!"
But I also think that even though he is gone...
May Isabel always feel his arms wrapped tightly around her to keep her safe
and may Heather always feel him by her side bringing a smile to her face...
Cherish the days you live as we do not know how many we are given!


  1. You honor Jay,again with this wonderful remembrance of him.
    Hugs, Ginger

  2. That was great Penny. Keep writing, Izzy will cherish these memoirs someday.

  3. Thank you Tonya and Jeff for some of the baptism pictures! lyap

  4. Penny, what a moving tribute to a wonderful man, professional, husband, and father. I can only imagine how tough it was for you to write this, but thank you so very much for sharing.