A neighbor of mine who works in law enforcement showed up at the bus stop today looking incredibly handsome in a beautiful dark suit. “Going to court?” I asked. No, the answer was much sadder than a court appearance. He and a contingent from his office are going to the funeral of the four police officers murdered in Oakland earlier this week. Oakland is planning for and staging an impressive event:
— The public memorial for Oakland’s four fallen police officers will be 11 a.m. Friday at Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way.
— The services will be led by the Rev. Jayson Landeza, chaplain of the Oakland Police Department. Organizers are expecting more than 12,000, including uniformed officers from police agencies around the country.
— Overflow crowds will be invited to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, where a big screen will broadcast the service.
I heard from another source that as many as 80 police officers will be arriving from Boston alone, and my friend told me that Scotland Yard has sent representatives too:
Law enforcement officers from all 50 states and a handful of foreign countries are expected to pour into the Oracle Arena for an 11 a.m. funeral honoring the four officers killed in related shooting incidents last Saturday.
A list of tentative speakers includes acting police Chief Howard Jordan, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, state Attorney General Jerry Brown, and family and friends of the officers. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to meet privately with the families before the service around 10:15 a.m., police said.
I always view tragedies like this as reminders — reminders not to wait until it’s too late to say how you value someone. No matter the heart-felt outpouring at today’s memorial service, friends, family, colleagues and politicos will be saying things that Sgts. Mark Dunakin, 40, Erv Romans, 43, Daniel Sakai, 35, and Officer John Hege, 41, won’t be around to hear.
When my Mom turned 80, I temporarily stole her address book and wrote to every living person in it asking them to send a letter with a personal message and a remembrance about her. Photos would be welcome too. My sister, who is artistic, then assembled the dozens of responses in a beautiful album. My mother almost cried when she got the album and (this is true) carried it with her everywhere she went for almost a year. To know, not only that her friends loved and valued her, but why they did so, meant everything to her.
Don’t wait until those near you die before you open your mouth and say the things you should have said before. Tell your family members you love them — and tell them why. Give your friend a true compliment — a deep one, about his or her personality, not just the usual “great shirt,” or “nice hair” kind of thing. Praise a colleague’s work. These things matter, and one of the greatest regrets we always have when people die is all the things we should have said before.