Funeral for a Hero

10/17/2011 10:11:00 AM

The mood around here has been very somber.  It is amazing to see how the communities of Lower Burrell, New Kensington and Arnold have all come together to support the family of fallen officer, Derek Kotecki.  

I have always had a tough time with death, but tragedies like this are even harder for me to understand.

My thoughts always turn to the family that is left behind to try to find answers and move on as well all of the friends and coworkers - some of them, in this case, were there when the whole thing happened.

I hate when people are hurting and I'm helpless to do anything.  It's part of the reason I couldn't get into any kind of medical profession.  It doesn't matter if I know them or not . . . seeing other people in pain has an effect on me that I can't really explain.  Being a mother has intensified that feeling.

I think about his parents and how they may have reacted when they were first told the news and how they are dealing with it all now . . . how I would deal with it if it were one of my sons.  I think about his wife and how she has to be strong for her boys. I don't really know how I would be able to do it because I turn to Jerry to be that strength for me . . . how do you do it if the person who was your strength isn't there?

Here is a link to the Final Roll Call for Derek Kotecki it's chilling and heartbreaking.

I woke up this morning still unsure if I was going to head up to Freeport Road to pay my respects and honor Officer Kotecki and his family as the funeral procession went by.  I really wanted to go.  I felt the need to go.  There isn't much that I can do and I really didn't know him or his family but my heart just aches for them.  I wanted to show a tiny bit of support.  I'm so glad that I decided to just do it and take the twins and Danika up to Juli's house and walk over with her, Kasie and the kids.

Dean holding his flag to honor Officer Kotecki

I can't really describe what it was like to stand there.  I felt like I had to make eye contact with as many of the officers driving by and somehow convey to them through that eye contact that I really appreciate what they do.  I felt like I wanted to show them my children and tell each and every one of them that I love them more than they can imagine for helping to keep us safe.  I also wanted them to know that, I know it isn't enough, but I always pray for their safety when I hear sirens.

Officer Kotecki's casket came past draped in an American flag, in a glass carriage pulled by two horses.  

Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette

There were two limos following the casket that I am assuming had his parents, wife and children in them.  I know that the second one had his wife riding in it because, just as they passed us, the sun shone in on her face.  That was when I cried.  She looked . . . tired.  I'm sure she is exhausted.  I can't imagine how crazy things have been for her and her boys.  

I was looking for Nate's Lower Burrell Police shirt (that is who he played tee ball for over the summer) so that he could wear it to school today and the whole time I was digging through drawers and laundry baskets I  kept thinking about Officer Kotecki's wife and how she was also getting clothes together for the morning . . . but that she was getting out the clothes that her boys would wear to their father's funeral.  It made me aware that I had no right to complain that I couldn't find it...even though I did and he wore it proudly to school this morning. 

Rest in Peace, Officer Kotecki - may God bless your family and all of those who serve and protect!

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