David James grew up in my hometown.
He was a few years my senior, liked and respected by many. I had the honor of playing in the high school band with him, in the trombone section.
Back then, I was a pipsqueak freshman and he was every freshman girl's idea of McDreamy... an accomplished athlete, confident and handsome with a thousand-kilowatt smile, and nice to boot. While I don't recall visiting with him one-on-one very much, what I do remember is that he was kind and always carried himself with such class. It was no surprise to hear that he went on after high school to serve twenty years in the Air Force, both in the Gulf War and Desert Storm. He really was the kind of guy that would make a career of serving his country with honor.
So the news two weeks ago that David was gunned down in a public park in front of his eight-year-old daughter, while defending some skateboarding kids from an idiot on a rant (you can read the news article here)... it was one of those things that hits you square in the chest as being such a senseless, horrific tragedy.
David and his family have been on my mind a lot these past couple weeks. I've been praying for his wife and children, that God grant them peace and comfort... and especially for his little daughter Danielle. She was at the park that day with her dad to play basketball, a game they both loved. Even as I write this, long-forgotten memories of David playing basketball for our high school rise to the surface; I have an image in my head of him smiling out there on the court, enjoying the game. One can only imagine the special bond that David and Danielle shared, for love of the game.
|Cledus T. Judd|
It seems I'm not the only one whose heart was touched by this sad story. Today, a friend posted to Facebook an audio in which the musician/comedian Cledus T. Judd read, on the radio, the most incredibly touching letter to Danielle James. He has never met her, but wanted to reach out to her in the spirit of compassion and friendship. One can hear the tears in his voice, the true feeling behind his words, and I feel compelled to share it. Please listen here.
There will always be tragedies and losses in this world; some of them close to home. It is so difficult to make sense of them... but I thank God for people such as Mr. Judd, who step up and step out in the face of such tragedy, to lift up those who grieve. While such acts cannot bring back loved ones lost or turn back time, they do bring comfort and restore our faith in humanity.
Thank you, Mr. Cledus T. Judd... and David, may you rest in peace knowing there are angels here on Earth, too.