On Oct. 24, 2017, State Trooper Daniel Keith Rebman Jr. lost his life in the line of duty. He was a husband and father to three precious little girls.
On the one year anniversary of the last time they saw him alive, his grieving family released a hauntingly beautiful set of pictures that tells the story how this family’s faith and the community’s support have continued to honor him since his death.
Trooper Rebman Jr. was parked in an emergency lane on I-385 in South Carolina when a a pickup truck barreled into his patrol car; the driver had reportedly fallen asleep at the wheel. Rebman later died from the injuries surrounded by his loved ones.
Even though his family has suffered unimaginable grief, those in the community, including Rebman’s brothers and sisters in blue, have rallied around them in special, heartwarming ways.
When his daughter, Olivia, graduated kindergarten in June of 2017, seven Highway Patrol officers showed up to cheer her on and celebrate with them.
Then once their summer break was over, a group of officers showed up again to further show their support and love by walking the girls to their first day of school.
“First Day of School 2018…. ??? All smiles because family showed up ???,” Rebman’s wife, Michelle, wrote.
In fact, those who worked with Rebman have stepped up and proven their support to the family in little moments as well. It’s something that Michelle said drew her late husband to the career in the first place.
“Our Highway Patrol family has been there since the very first moment,” she said. “They spent time grieving with us and supporting us during the worst days of our lives. Once the funeral was over, their support has never stopped. They have done yard work, fixed appliances, attended soccer games, and they continue to show up for our family for every major event in our lives.”
“My husband became a trooper in part because he wanted that bond, that brotherhood, and they truly honor him by the way they care for us.”
As the anniversary of his death came closer, however, the weight of grief became heavier and heavier for those who knew him. So the family decided to honor him in a special way.
Jennifer Davisson, a local photographer, captured a series of pictures of Michelle and the three little girls and shared about the faith that had carried them through the past year.
The photos were shared at 7 p.m. the night before the anniversary of his death because that “was when his last shift started and the last time Michelle was able to kiss him goodbye.”
“Michelle would disagree with me, but she has walked this path with such grace and faith,” Davisson wrote. “She talks about God’s sovereignty in the midst of grief and the importance of forgiveness, because she has no room or time for hate. She has been transparent, real, and raw about their grief, and that has inspired so many.”
This grace and faith was made evident in a post Michelle shared just a few days before the pictures were made public. As she looked back on the past year, Michelle took a moment to recognize the difficulty and the pain, but also to point toward the lessons she has learned.
“I live so many days with the determination to not let your death taint every good moment at the end of the year…Your birthday, our anniversary, Olivia’s birthday, and every holiday, but it does…It does,” she wrote.
“And maybe that’s why Loss on a global scale is necessary…It teaches and infuses a wisdom into hearts and lives that nothing else can. It solidifies in our minds how finite we are, and how we do not have control over the when or the how, but only the way we live Right Now.”
That same message was beautifully captured in the heartbreaking photos.
Several items of special significance were featured in the pictures: the folded American flag given to Michelle at his funeral, the folded South Carolina flag given to the girls, a teddy bear made from his uniform (lovingly called “daddy bear”), his badge, and the trooper dog named after him.
Davisson ended her post with a promise from the entire community.
She wrote, “Trooper Rebman, until that day you are together again, we promise to continue holding your family up as a community.”
“Your legacy will live on through them, and you will not be forgotten.”
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