Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 12/03/2014

Our Children: Daniel-Paul Barber

Daniel-Paul, age 15

Daniel-Paul, age 15

If you would like to contribute a photo and information about your child, or a memorial of your making, please email Jody at jgp@glynnpatrick.com.

Daniel Paul Barber, Age 16

Daniel-Paul was a very special child, good-hearted and cheerful. He loved his siblings and was often the peacemaker when petty arguments broke out. If he had a dollar in his pocket, he would use it to buy his sisters a present. He was well versed in the Bible and often gave impromptu Bible lessons. Daniel won first in state for his band expertise (drums) while in middle school, when he performed with the high school band. He was an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts and he held a black belt in Tae Kwon Do martial arts. He was to begin Bayview (Wisconsin) High School in the fall, excited to enroll in a special Police Sciences tract with the hopes of becoming a police officer (his sister Brook now works for Chicago PD and carries his picture inside her hat while on duty every day).

Daniel-Paul was named for Daniel and Paul of the Bible. Daniel, meaning “God is my Judge,” was the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. The most famous story of Daniel in the Bible is likely Daniel in the lions’ den. He was sent there for defying a written law not to pray to God for 30 days, which he did not obey. The lions came to him like dogs to their master, and he left safely the next day (when his enemies were thrown into the den and did not fare nearly so well). Likewise, Paul is a Biblical reference to Saul, who became Paul and the great repentant and disciple for Christ.

Notice of his death

August 28, 1991, Daniel-Paul was driving home from the orthodontist’s office, braces finally removed. Most likely he raised his eyes from the country highway to check out his new smile in the rearview mirror. At the self-conscious age of 16, he wouldn’t have given his reflection more than a cursory glance at the dental clinic, but while driving home alone, the impulse to look in a mirror must have been irresistible. That’s the way I imagine it happening, anyway – the wheels catching on loose gravel and sending the car down into a ditch and then into a high flip into a cornfield. That’s the way a witness to the accident described it.

I was a grief counselor at the time, a police crisis interventionist, and it was my duty to do death notifications for all shifts at our department. Even though I had literally given notifications over a hundred times, when I received the call and understood my son was dead, I couldn’t speak, couldn’t make my legs work. My knees buckled and I crumpled on the floor. Summer, 14, was first into the kitchen; at the sight of my tears, she grabbed Brook’s hand, stopping the 11-year old in her tracks. Nothing seemed real, and I stared at the girls, wondering how much they had already heard. It was as if I was watching someone else’s family, and I needed a clue from them how to proceed. Five-year old PJ crawled into my lap, crying. I held my youngest son close to me, though I no longer seemed to be in my own body. From some far-away place, I asked for the details. Broken neck. Missing arm. Missing leg. Surely they weren’t talking about my precious boy….

Any bereaved parent will understand that the most difficult moment occurred at the gravesite. I wanted to kiss my first-born child one more time regardless of his injuries; and so the coffin was opened again. On the day of their births, I had promised each of my children a million kisses. Had I given Daniel enough kisses to send him on this journey? Surely Daniel extracted a million tears from our family in only days. It was unthinkable that the world continued on without him and I found it incomprehensible that the “real me” was not already buried alongside my child.

Two weeks after Daniel’s death, the chief of police ordered me to a civilian psychologist to be certified as fit to return to service following a traumatic incident. “What do I say to a grief counselor about grief?” the psychologist asked. “I won’t pretend that I know how you feel, because I don’t. But I do understand that your life will never be the same as it was before.”

No. It won’t.  jody glynn patrick


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