In the early morning hours of Friday, September 13th, Jamie Buenting was helping a team of officers arrest a man wanted for felony assault when he was shot. Only one shot, one round. But that's all it took. With just one horrible decision, a man was taken from this world. Taken from his community. Taken from his friends and family. Taken from his wife and two young children.
And while I didn't know Officer Buenting personally, I have heard a lot of good things. And these are good things from the mouths of people who tell it like it is, so I truly believe them. Everyone who knew him said that he loved what he did for a living. He had a passion for it. He loved being a police officer. He loved teaching classes about gun safety and tactics. He just loved his job. And he died doing what he loved.
One of my sisters knew Jamie pretty well since she spent a summer babysitting his kids. She told me a month ago about how she spoke with him for almost an hour at Sweet Corn Daze. He was talking about how independent his 6 year-old daughter (a type 1 diabetic for a few years) has become, wanting to do her own injections and handle everything by herself. He talked about taking his kids horseback riding and the things they had done this summer. She could tell how proud he was to be their dad. She has always thought highly of him. After the gut-wrenchingly sad funeral yesterday, she said that while she isn't a very religious person, she truly believes that God must have needed a great guy with Him in Heaven.
Death usually sucks, especially when it is a young person with so much life left to live. And every death seems to leave the living with a striking sense of how precious and unpredictable life can be. We just don't know how much time we have left on this earth. Death tends to make you evaluate your own life.
Am I making enough time for the people who really matter to me?
Am I fulfilled?
Is my life going the direction I want it to?
How will I be remembered when I leave this world?
Am I the person I truly desire to be?
And then there are always those vague sentiments that people pass on. Those sayings that tell you to "enjoy every moment" while you can and to "live each day like it's your last." A nice thought, but that just isn't how real life works. At least not for long. Jamie's shocking and unexpected death had me hugging my own children a little tighter and not sweating the small stuff. But have I been enjoying every moment? No. Those children that I hug tight? I love them, but they are the same ones I want to hide in the closet from so I can have five minutes to myself. That is motherhood. I kiss Jared and tell him how much I love him every day, but I still roll my eyes when I am picking up another pair of his dirty socks off the floor. That's marriage.
You can't live every day like it's your last, because some times dishes need washed and laundry must be folded. (And believe me when I say my last day on Earth would not be spent sorting tiny toddler underwear.) What death and tragedy do for me is that they remind me to be thankful for all of it - those enjoyable, livin' life moments along with the not-so-great ones. Just be thankful. You never know when your time in this earthly life will be complete.
I am sure that Jamie's wife would give just about anything to pick up her husband's dirty socks again.
It sounds like Jamie left this world with important things checked off of his life's to-do list. He had a job he found fulfillment in and a family he loved. He had the admiration and respect of his peers and those he served. He left this world very much loved, and I think his send-off yesterday proved that without a doubt.
Over 1200 law enforcement officers attended the funeral Tuesday,
some coming from as far as Chicago.
I will be forever impressed with the people of Rockwell City, Iowa, for their complete outpouring of love, generosity, and support for one of their own.
Thank you for your loyal service, Officer Buenting.
May you rest in peace.