‘Mark would want us to be living our lives to the fullest’
By Jon Meoli, email@example.com
5:18 PM EDT, May 14, 2012
Lynne Parry knows that enduring the death of a loved one, when it happens, is hard enough.
She lost her husband, Det. Sgt. Mark Parry, 42, of the Towson precinct, on Jan. 21, 2002, after Parry succumbed to injuries sustained when a drunken driver hit his unmarked patrol car a month earlier.
But over time, she’s learned that some people die a second death — when no more loved ones remain to speak with about the loss. That time won’t be coming for her husband … ever.
“I’ve got peace in my heart knowing that Mark is never going to have that second death,” Parry said Monday in a phone interview fromWashington, D.C., where she is participating in National Police Week.
“He’s always going to be remembered, and a lot of people can never say that about their loved ones,” Parry said.
“Even though he died too young, and tragically, he’ll always be remembered for his sacrifice.”
The memorial service on Tuesday, May 15, at the U.S. Capitol building culminated what’s typically a dizzying stretch for all of Mark Parry’s loved ones, as ceremonies both small and large are held to honor law enforcement heroes who gave their lives in the line of duty.
“It’s heart-wrenching, but it’s something you have to do,” said Bill Parry, Mark’s brother. A resident of Halethorpe, he is also a member of the county police department.
“If people are going to honor my brother, that’s something I’m going to make sure I do,” he said. “It doesn’t make things any easier, but it makes it so he’s not forgotten.”
Earlier this month, there was the Fallen Heroes Day Memorial Service at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, where Parry was laid to rest 10 years ago.
Then just this past Friday, May 11, Lynne, Bill, and Mark’s sister, Maria Parry — who works as a county 911 dispatcher — joined County Council member David Marks, Police Chief Jim Johnson and other county officials at Patriot Plaza for a memorial service honoring the eight county police officers who died in service to the county.
Two days later, Lynne Parry traveled toWashington, D.C.for National Police Week, which honors officers from around the country who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
On Sunday, Lynne and Mark Parry’s two youngest children, Danny, 22, and Caroline, 20, took the Metro south from College Park forMother’s Day dinner, then attended a candlelight vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Her oldest son, Kevin, 24, recently started a new job and couldn’t take time off.
But even without her children by her side for the duration of her stay — the kids returned to College Park for finals — she was hardly on her own. Over the last decade, she has met and fostered close friendships with others who know similar loss.
After 2003, when Mark Parry was first honored, the family didn’t return for such events for several years. But after Lynne Parry developed relationships through retreats and Caroline Parry made friends through kids camps for children who lost parents, the trips to D.C. resumed.
“It’s been really important for the kids and I to have developed these friendships, and that’s probably one of the biggest reasons why we come back each year,” Lynne Parry said.
“They’re the family we needed when our lives were shattered,” she said. “We often say that’s Mark’s way of still taking care of us.”
Though May is chock full of memorial events, Parry’s wife said it’s often the smaller moments that choke her up.
For instance, several officers from the Towson precinct organize a small get-together on the anniversary of Mark’s death each year, and the family typically comes to catch up with those who were so helpful 10 years ago.
“They drove us to the hospital, sat with us in the waiting room, they were there the day of the funeral,” she said of her husband’s police brotherhood. “Several of them really made a point to reach out to the kids afterward.”
Sometimes, though, it’s just the family. Lynne Parry drove down to see Caroline at College Park on her 20th birthday. Caroline Parry was just 10 at the time of her dad’s death.
“They’re all hard days, but obviously life goes on,” Lynne Parry said.
A new support session during National Police Week deals with just that: life going on.
And while she’s been to many of the sessions offered already, Lynne Parry said she might find time for that one.
Otherwise, she’s at police week in a volunteer role. She worked at the registration desk Monday morning, and planned to volunteer again Tuesday for the memorial service.
She said if a new survivor needed someone to talk with, she would join for a support session, but other than the session about moving on, none drew her attention.
“It’s a fine line,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to think I haven’t moved on. Life is about living, and Mark would want us to be living our lives to the fullest.
“I don’t feel like I dwell on this…but it’s also important to do this because of how Mark died, and it’s a way for us to give back to people who now joined us in this horrible club,” she said. “It’s a club you really don’t want to belong to.”