By Sean Riley – President & Founder-Safe Call Now
10-05-2016… One of those days for me that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and where I was at. On this date my best friend Kevin Murphy from the Henderson, NV Police Department took his own life. I was in Phoenix presenting when I got the call and the news of his death literally brought me down to my knees. It hurt and hurt bad. I even struggle with the word “suicide” because that’s something that happens to other people and doesn’t happen to my friends. I deal with people in crisis everyday and for the first time I didn’t know what to do and didn’t realize I was about to go into crisis. Let me tell you about my best friend.
Kevin was the Director of the Henderson PD PEAP Program (Police Employee Assistance Program) and he had been with Safe Call Now since it’s inception as not only a Peer Advocate but also an Advisory Board Member. Kevin and I hit it off the first time we met. Not because we both help those in crisis but because we both had a genuine interest in each others personal lives and how each others families were doing. He’s one of the few people that I could talk to about life and keep “work” out of the conversation. What made Kevin so special to me was his humor, his smile and his genuine care about me and how I was doing. At Kevin’s funeral one of the things that was said over and over is that you always felt “safe” when you were with Kevin. You know what? They were a 100% right.
Anytime I flew into Las Vegas I would always tell myself… “I get to see Kev this week.” He always picked me up at the airport and we would spend quality time together and share about “Life”. Also every time he picked me up he always told me that I should fold any dollar bills I had in my wallet in half and I would then theoretically double my money while in Las Vegas. Really??? I’m a drug addict in recovery, that’s not going to happen. He and I would laugh and laugh, you know those laughs that come deep from your belly. I was honored to be asked to speak at his full police/military funeral and I just knew I would come up with something so eloquent which he deserved. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to say because I was struggling with my own emotions.
When I did receive the call of Kevin’s death I automatically kicked into “Safe Call Now” mode trying to determine what services I was going to bring into Henderson, what debriefings or peer support meetings I was going to attend. Thank God for the Safe Call Now Board of Directors. They “shut me down” and advised that I would not be involved in any type of debrief, heeling or peer support activity of any kind until I dealt with myself, my feelings and my emotions. At first I was caught off guard until they made me realize what I couldn’t see and that I needed to go through my own process and take my own journey. I have and I haven’t resolved anything with his death. I have no answers and it still really hurts.
On the morning of Kevin’s funeral I still struggled with what I was going to say until it came to me and for my own selfish reasons. What was bothering me the most was that I didn’t get to say “goodbye” to my best friend. I never got that opportunity. I got cheated. I’m not angry about it, I’m heartbroken. Not sure when I will be over it or if I ever will be. Life happened on “Life’s terms” and I don’t like it. Especially in this instance. I don’t always know about life and what it has in store for all of us but I do know my best friend is gone and I’m still devastated by it.
Yes I’ll admit it, two years later and I’m still crushed and don’t know what to do about it. Even though this tragedy happened, Kevin gave me many great gifts. He gave me the gift that I needed to take a look at myself. Not to be so caught up in “work”, to slow down, learn to live life and many others. For that I will be forever grateful to him although honestly I haven’t done a very good job of it. I think I’m still “running away” because I don’t want to deal with this pain. He also gave me the gift of allowing me into his family. His beautiful wife Leticia and children Amelia, Brandon and Cameron, just an incredible gift.
My heart is broken it is not empty, I still have a special place in my heart for Kevin, always will and I’ve learned that I have a special place in my heart for my family, friends and others which I’ve seemed to forgotten about that I need to tend to. I thought going to Las Vegas would now be totally different since Kevin is no longer there, that there would be a big hole in my heart every time I landed at the airport. I’m realizing that this is not true. There will always be a warm place in my heart for Las Vegas because I know Kevin was there and to me he still will always be there. I will land there with a big smile because I know I’m close to my friend and for that I’ll take great joy. Yeah I’m all over the board on this matter because I haven’t even come close to processing it yet but someday I’ll get there… I hope.
“In the wake of a sudden death ‘normal’ ceases to exist – I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.” To you my brother, the influence, joy and friendship you brought to my life and my family I will never be able to pay back. It will never be “Goodbye” Kevin, rather until we meet again. You were a great one. Much love my brother… Godspeed.
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