Aug. 4, 2021

A Police Widow's Story Of Tragic Loss And Redeeming Love


In this episode, we discuss...

  1. April’s tragic experiences as she faced the death of her husband and six months later, the destruction of their house due to flood (1:22)
  1. “I think in that moment, I was so numb, you know, I didn't really know what was going on. It was kind of like I was on this conveyor belt, just kind of like moving.” (13:14)
  1. Line of duty death (16:50)
  1. “It's [funeral due to line of duty death] something that you don't discuss as, as a first responder, husband and wife or partners. You don't you don't discuss, okay, if I'm killed in the line of duty, this is how I want my service to go. I don't want it huge in the city that I you know, right, I died. And I, you don't discuss any of that.” (17:43)
  2. “how do you like you're going through one devastation [death of her husband] to the like, the next one [flood], how are you handling all this like an incredible amount of strength?” (20:28)
  3. “I was just gonna say that I have found love after my loss, which is incredible.” (27:44)
  1. “What compelled you to write this book? Like, how did that come about?” (29:47)
  2. Responsibilities as a police wife widow (34:27)
  3. Through Hell and High Water book written by April herself (39:13)
  1. The impact she wanted to leave to the world and the importance of therapy (43:26)


Book Brief
April Katherman-Redgrave is the surviving widow of fallen San Jose Police Motors Officer Michael J. Katherman, who was struck by another vehicle in 2016. Six months later, their dream home was flooded during the 2017 winter storms in Hollister, California-not once but five times-destroying their house and forcing April and her two sons to rely on the kindness of friends, community, and family to pick up the pieces. Through Hell and High Water chronicles unimaginable tragedy, loss, heartbreak, and loneliness, yet also how God faithfully brought her family through the other side of a tunnel where once there was no light to be seen. Told with rawness, transparency, and humor too, this is a story of redemption, courage, strength, forgiveness, and blessing, as God began to make all things new in ways she could never have imagined.

Though we may never understand why God allowed these tragedies to happen to the Kathermans, Through Hell and High Water shows He has been and will always be in control, even down to the smallest detail. God's love and purpose is still shining brightly in April, as she shares her beauty-from-ashes, redemptive story to encourage others, honor her husband in heaven, and glorify all God has done in her life.

This book speaks to the heart of the grieving, law enforcement families, divorced or blended families, or anyone who has experienced loss and is struggling to find hope in a broken life. May you find encouragement, strength, and purpose through April's story, God's story.

Book Link
https://www.amazon.com/Through-Hell-High-Water-Redeeming/dp/1646452275/ref=sr_1_3?crid=SHIS8EE1FFBZ&dchild=1&keywords=through+hell+and+high+water+april+katherman&qid=1624651133&sprefix=through+hell%2Caps%2C325&sr=8-3

Guest Social Media
https://www.instagram.com/beautyforourashesblog/
https://www.instagram.com/beautyforourashesblog/

Host Information
Your host Jerry D. Lund can be reached at 801-376-7124 or email at enduringthebdage@gmail.com or voice message use the icon microphone at www.enduringthebadgepodcast.com. Please feel free to give my information to anyone that might be feeling down or anyone you would like to be on the podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast.  If you like the podcast please share it and join the online community at www.instagram.com/enduringthebadgepodcast.

Transcript

Everyday Heroes Podcast Network: This podcast is part of the Everyday Heroes Podcast Network, the network for first responders and those who support them.

Introduction: Welcome. The trials of first responders and their families aren't easy. Enduring the Badge Podcast is building a community to help them out. Introducing your host, back by 30 years of experience as a first responder, Jerry Dean Lund.

Jerry D. Lund: Hi, everyone! Before we jump into this next episode, I want to thank my sponsor, Patriot Supreme, a veteran owned company with products made in the US. Patriot Supreme makes the best CBD products I've ever used. I really love their CBD Roll On, it's got a deep freeze feel to it. I use it in different joint areas when they feel a little tight or there's a little bit of a pinch. I also use it on my muscles when they're a little bit sore. You can use that up to four times a day for pain relief. Check them out at patriotsupreme.com. And be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook as well. Let's jump right into this next episode with my very special guest April Katherman Redgrave.

How are you doing April?

April Katherman Redgrave: Good. Thank you for having me.

Jerry D. Lund: Oh, no, thank you for being on. I know you got a super busy schedule and everything. And I'm very excited for my audience to hear your story.

April Katherman Redgrave: Well, thanks.

Jerry D. Lund: Yeah. So let's, let's tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

April Katherman Redgrave: All right, well, I am a widow and a wife, a mom of three, a bonus mom of two. And a little bit background, in 2016 in my husband Mike, who was a police officer, San Jose Police Department motors officer was killed in the line of duty. So, my boys at the time were 10 and eight. I was 33. Mike was only 34. And just like, you know, all first responder families, you go into work and you hope you come home. But you always have that, that fear right in the back of your mind. But you never think it'll happen to you.

Jerry D. Lund: Right.

April Katherman Redgrave: Unfortunately for us, we kissed Mike by that morning, and he didn't make it home. And there was a motorcycle crash it was our situation. And our life was turned upside down. I mean, the boys and I were crushed and lived out. Police's wife, police family's worst nightmare. And as we were trying to heal through that and take on all the responsibilities of the family of a fallen officer, because there's so much behind the scenes that goes along with that. Six months later, our little dream house in the country that Mike and I had purchased that we were fixing up ourselves had flooded. And I lost that home. And I don't mean just a flood like Oh, the pipe burst and the floor was wet. I mean, a levee breach to where the boys and I had to be rescued on a boat by the fire department, climb out a window, you know, taking the safety on the bow. We couldn’t, no one could get into our house and we couldn't get out. We woke up in the middle of the night basically with rushing water. And our house was gone. And so, in a matter of six months, we lost dad, husband and our home our belongings. So, it was it was, we'll talk later about my book called Through Hell and High Water but we literally went through hell and high water.

So, it's just been it's been five years. And it's been a journey. And a long road but we're doing well. We're doing really good.

Jerry D. Lund: So, I want to go back to you were talking about you know, kiss and bye and stuff like that. Did you have any feeling that that'd be like the last time you'd kiss him goodbye? Or is it just like any other day?

April Katherman Redgrave: You know? No, it was just a typical summer day the boys and I were home because I was an elementary school teacher at the time. So, it was the beginning of our summer break. And he happened to work a later day shift which wasn't normal. So, he was still there when we were up and, and going about our morning. And it was the normal routine. If he was home and we were awake before he went to work. He kisses and hug us bye and he always said to the boys be good for your mom. It was just the thing he always said. So, it was just the regular day and we would text throughout the day and we had an upcoming camping trip that we had planned. And so, we were kind of texting about that. We were doing work on the bathroom and so there were some guys there doing the tiles. So, I would text the pictures of how it was coming along. And then all of a sudden, all there was no reply anymore. But of course, nothing went through my head. It's a call for a first responder sometimes you just can't respond right now. Either you know, with somebody, or he's on the bike, or you know, he's on a call, and it was normal for him not to respond sometimes for the rest of his shift. And so, the thought it didn't cross my mind, of course, that something can happen to him.

Jerry D. Lund: Right, right. I do issues back.

April Katherman Redgrave: Okay. All right.

Jerry D. Lund: Sorry for stopping. Yeah.

April Katherman Redgrave: No, I'm sorry that yeah.

Jerry D. Lund: You're good. You're good. Okay. So, Mike just stopped responding, and you didn't have any, like, gut feeling or intuition that there was something wrong?

April Katherman Redgrave: Well, what had happened is, he wasn't responding, the kids are playing outside. And I was just kind of scrolling through Facebook on the couch, and I saw a post of a in the San Jose police wives’ group that I belonged with that an officer got hurt. And I was like, oh, and so still not not connecting the two, I start reading the comments and more, more of the wives were posting. Oh, it was a motors officer, that got hurt. Okay, so that's when you start to get a little bit worried because there were so many cuts recently at the San Jose police department at the motor’s unit. There was not very many of them anymore. And then, of course, on that day shift those lessons, how many there are right only so many on day shift. So, it then the friends that I had been texting with throughout the day about this upcoming camping trip that we were going on, they stopped texting me too. They happened to be law enforcement as well. Oh, so the word was getting out that it was Mike. But nobody wanted me to know. So, I had one of my best friends, that was a dispatcher. And her husband was also Mike's buddy who went to the academy with him and a police officer. So, she ends up calling me and said, you know, we'll be right over. So that's when I'm like, why are they coming over? The whole time, I thought he got hurt. And I was actually mad at him because I'm thinking, oh my gosh, he got her we're getting ready to go camping. It's the beginning of summer. And now I'm gonna have to take care of this hurt husband, you know, with a broken leg or something.

So, I actually went and packed a bag for him thinking that I'm going to go have to go meet him somewhere where he's hurt. And he's not going to want to stay in his uniform. He's going to want to change into, you know, comfy clothes, if I'm gonna go sit with him for a while, you know, in the ER or whatever. And the boys were still outside playing. Well, and then my friend pulled up. He was in his police car. He's canine. So, he had a take home car, but he was in plain clothes. And his wife was in her car. So, I thought, okay, that's weird.

So, then I walked outside my front door, and they walked up. And all I needed to see was the shake of his head of No. And that's when I collapsed on the ground and lost it. That's, that's when I knew what had happened. And he was instructed not to let me go to the hospital by the PD. I had to wait for just like the movies, those black cars to arrive. I had to wait for, you know, the police chief and the chaplain and the city officials to actually come in their black cars and come to the house and give me the official news. But we didn't live in San Jose. We lived in Hollister we were an hour away. So, I couldn't go they would not let him take me there. And then they finally got there. And it was like I said the scene for the movies. The black cars show up. They knock on the door. They're escorted in my house. Here I am sitting on the couch. Like just in a complete daze. They tell me the news try to comfort me. It was a nightmare.

Jerry D. Lund: Yeah, I honestly can't even imagine. I'm sure most people listening can't even imagine going through that I can I've never had to be a part of something like that bar of line of duty, death, other deaths. But you know, it just it's hard for me to take in. I mean, I just like you said I play it when you when you talk about it. I see those movies and stuff to write and that's just how gut wrenching and heartbreaking that must have been. And then you know, having that hour delay, you know, before you can, like do something probably felt like I bet it felt like eternity.

April Katherman Redgrave: It did and then I had to, I wasn't gonna tell my children. They're still playing outside. You know, so all this is playing in my house. This this whole you know, me a mess. That them coming to tell me while my boys are calling Louis, you know, just having a ball in the backyard playing basketball and whatever. And still, when I was finally escorted to the hospital to see him, my boys still didn't know what was going on.

Jerry D. Lund: Was, were you thinking about how you were gonna tell them?

April Katherman Redgrave: Yes, yeah. So, once I got to the hospital, of course, it wasn't like the typical hospital parking lot. There were no cars, except for police cars, there was the perimeter around the hospital, there was the the line of officers that were in this, this wall-to-wall tunnel that I had to walk through to get to the side door of the hospital. And once I got in there, and you know, made that awful walk down the hallway, and everyone just stops when I get there, you know, they stand at attention. They're just, you know, heads, heads hung, no one's eye contact with me and I, I get to the room, and all there is between me and Mike is this curtain. And I finally get in there. And, you know, I have a chapter in my book, it's called The Last to See Him and The First to Say Goodbye. I was the last person there; the room was filled with people. And I get there. And I'm just getting there. And they already want to release his name on the news. And I'm like, wait a second, I have two boys that are home an hour away. And I haven't owned them. [Right, right] And all it all it takes is for someone to come to show up at the door, a frantic phone call from a family member, get on the TV get on their iPad. They can't be told that way. You know, they have to be told by me. So, I'm begging them. You've got to give me more time. I just got here. Like so I was able to stall at one hour. That's it. So, I had to leave Mike, I had to leave him there with everybody else there. Because I knew it had to be me that told our children. So, I had to make that drive back course I was escorted, you know, with our friend and the car, his police car. And the whole time. What do you what do you tell them? What do you say to these boys who are expecting daddy to come home from work? Um, so yeah, it? It was that was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life? Because I was the one that broke their heart.

Jerry D. Lund: Yeah, yeah, there's no, there's no, there's no book right on how to go about doing this. Because every family dynamic is so different. So, you couldn't really write anything to maybe some generic things to help but you know, your kids best and how to share that news. Yeah, that's devastating. I It breaks my heart, you know, to hear the story and everything in you know, I love how all the officers were there to pay Mike respect. And did that just make things harder for you? Or was that, or did it? Did it help?

April Katherman Redgrave: A little bit of both? I think in that moment, I was so numb, you know, I didn't really know what was going on. It was kind of like I was on this conveyor belt, just kind of like moving. And everything was happening around me. But until now I'm able to look back. I think it was comforting that they were all there. But at the same time, I was really angry that everyone was there. And, and I wasn't allowed to get there. But how come all of how come they were? You know? Yeah. And that's, that's been really hard for me to deal with. That I I didn't have the capacity to speak up and say something of like, no, I'm not leaving my husband and you will not release his name on the news right now. You will wait. But I wasn't there mentally. I was just kind of like in shock, complete and utter shock. But, of course, having all of his brothers and sisters there and blue, and have never left my side five years later. I mean, all of them. The whole department so supportive, and everything is definitely comforting because Mike would have been the same way. He was actually the Vice President of their Keith Kelly club is what they call it for seven plus years, which is an organization within the police department that takes care of the officers and their families when something happens. Oh, and he was the one that ran that club. And so, he was the one that would have been the one there for that wife or, you know, or whatever the family. So, I know he would have done the same because he did do that.

Jerry D. Lund: Yeah. Yeah. That had to be hard to own just did you get the opportunity to really like, say goodbye within that hour that you were there? Or was it just probably just a few minutes.

April Katherman Redgrave: I didn't have much time. And I was never alone with him there. You know, there was a week until the big huge ceremony happened. So, there was a time where he was taken, you know, to the coroner's office, which is a huge procession, and everything. So that day, which was about, I don't know, maybe three days later, I got some time then. But I, there was still everyone there. You know, there was still the people from the department and the family and the media, and all the, the timeline that I had and their schedule. So, it actually wasn't until the morning of the service, that I finally got my time alone with him. So, it took seven days before I could shoo everyone away and have just my husband because he wasn't Officer Katherman to me. He was Mike, he was my love. Right. So, yeah. So, I finally got some moments by myself with him to say goodbye then with everybody waiting, though, you know, with, with everyone at the big Yeah, every but the show had to go on, we still needed to do that procession to the big huge arena of the ceremony. So, it, it's, it's just it's a lot when it's a line of duty death a lot.

Jerry D. Lund: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I've had a lolium from Carney strong on her husband passed away from cancer, and it was considered a line of duty death. But for him, he didn't want any of that type of stuff. You don't want any line of duty type services held for him. And now I'm hearing your story and hearing, you know, her story. There is a big difference between that and that's both of them take an incredible amount of strength to go through. And when one of our brothers and sisters die, you know, especially in the line of duty, it just like we all we all have feel like we have a piece of that, right? It's all, you know, Mike's a piece of everybody and it's like, but mostly importantly, a piece of you and you know, not get the time is yeah, it breaks, it really does break my heart.

April Katherman Redgrave: It's something that you don't discuss as, as a first responder, husband and wife or partners. You don't you don't discuss, okay, if I'm killed in the line of duty, this is how I want my service to go. I don't want it huge in the city that I you know, right, I died. And I, you don't discuss any of that.

Jerry D. Lund: Because if we discuss it, then it's like the possibility I feel like it could happen.

April Katherman Redgrave: Exactly, the part of me, I wish I would have known what he would have wanted. Of course, I knew him best. So, there are parts that I said yes and no to base on what I knew best about my husband. But as far as the whole shebang of it all. You know, I, I you just kind of go with what you're told to do almost because you're so numb to it all. You don't know what's going on?

Jerry D. Lund: Yeah. Did you have other family members there for you? Did you did your [absolutely] immediate families live? Not too far away from you? Or?

April Katherman Redgrave: No, actually, I don't have any family that lives near me. But my sister the day before Mike died, my sister had a baby. And my sister was about two hours away. My mom and dad had come from Nevada to go see the new grandbaby. So instead of my parents and my grandparents being, you know, five hours away, they were only two because everyone was in town for the new baby. And so, when I was at the hospital seeing Mike, my girl friend stayed with the boys. And my parents were able to get to my house, because they were just at the hospital with my sister instead of coming all the way from Nevada. So, they were there. And then, of course, my mom just never left. She was with me throughout the rest of the summer. And we just we had a big support system through Mike's family. Mike's family's actually from San Jose. So, they were there and wonderful and supportive. And then all of our family and friends but my immediate family have Yeah, I moved to San Jose with Mike when we got married and left all of them.

Jerry D. Lund: Well, it's kind of it's a blessing that they were that much closer to you.

April Katherman Redgrave: Absolutely. Yep. Yeah, definitely.

Jerry D. Lund: So, you go through all of this in which is life-changing devastating, I can't describe it in words. And you have this house that you bought together and like sounded like you're investing in, right in your dream, you know, getting a fixed up and and then after all that you get encountered with, like you said, it's not just a broken waterline your house like is you have to be rescued by boat. That's huge. [Yes]. And so how do you like how do you like you're going through one devastation to the like, the next one, how are you handling all this like an incredible amount of strength?

April Katherman Redgrave: I have a big faith. So, of course, I'm trusting in God, to get me through all of this, and the support of family and friends. But there was definitely times where I questioned at all, you know, why is this happening to us? Our little family? I would always think, you know, sound selfish, but why me? Why do I have to be the one that loses my husband, and have to watch my kids grow up without their dad? Why don't my sons have to not have dad, it, you know, I can appear to be strong on the outside because I held it all together. But that's because I had to for my kids, you know, they are the reason that I'm still here and still going is because in all honesty, I wanted to die with Mike, I wanted to crawl into that casket with him that day that they put them into the ground, and I didn't want to ever come back. So, it's, it's just that pushing on for your kids and having the strength that God gave me and knowing that I had to do this for Mike, like, he would want me to be strong and take care of our boys. And there were so many times where I thought I wish it would have been me because he would have done such a better job handling all this than I would have. And I had a lot of that guilt. Like, why do I get to still be here and with our children and not him. But definitely, I couldn't have done the back-to-back tragedies without the support of, of the community, the police department, the family and friends who were there really to pick up the pieces for me when I couldn't, couldn't…

Jerry D. Lund: Yeah, and this. And this wasn't the only tragedy that you went through these just these two, like these kept things kept happening, other other tragedies in your life kept happening.

April Katherman Redgrave: Well, when that first flood happened, you know, you we cleared out the house, we had all these work party days where I mean it was law enforcement, around the whole community, other departments they just had all these days where they would come and they, you know, did the stripping of everything in the house to where it's ready to be rebuilt, you know, and dealing with insurance. And then another storm came and it flooded again. And again, five times my house flooded. It's like

Jerry D. Lund: How you have the strength to go through five times. That's incredible.

April Katherman Redgrave: It but you know, the point that I never moved back in obviously it was it was gutted, the walls were cut up, you know, it was being aired out, mud everywhere, and it wasn't safe, you actually couldn't get to it unless you had a four-wheel drive large truck and we have one and I would get stuck trying to get there. You know, and I would try to get there by myself. You know, I would I would get in that four-wheel drive truck and I'd have my boots my rubber boots with me and I'm like, I'm gonna go check on that house and totally unsafe. You're not supposed to be out there contaminated with who knows what because there's the farmland. We were all on a wells and septic. So, the septic tanks. I mean, it was it was gross, dead animals floating. I mean, it was a scene. But I'm like, you know what, I'm gonna save this house. Yeah, this was our house. And actually, to back up a little bit. I had told you that we were we bought this fixer upper little farmhouse to fix up and Mike was doing all the work himself. And when he died, I actually had a toilet in the living room. I had, you know, paint everywhere because we were remodeling a bathroom. And some retired police officers got word of what Mike was doing and how I was left with all of that. How was I going to, you know, fix up our house right? And it was just left in the middle of these huge projects, to where they brought in this team of all different contractors from engineers to electricians who volunteered their time. And we're remodeling my house over that six month in three different phases. And we were in the last phase of remodel, to get our house to be the dream house that Mike and I had created. And I had, so the flood happened on a Thursday, and that Monday, all the new kitchen cabinets were coming in. I had the floors were going to be redone. I mean, we had just, these, these men were at my house retired every single day, building walls, and that they added a new bedroom for a son. And I mean, all of that.

So it's like, Come on now. I mean, it was just,

Jerry Dean Lund: I would be questioning Yeah, for sure. Like, why me? Like why this why, like I was,

April Katherman Redgrave: I felt so bad from all this time and energy and volunteer work. And my house was turning into just the most dream little farmhouse that I better than what Mike and I could ever have planned. And I went with Mike's plans of what he had, that he was going to do. And they did that. And we were in the last, the third stage of the remodel. And all gone.

Jerry D. Lund: Yeah. So I guess my question is, is the dream house still there? Or is it?

April Katherman Redgrave: No, it's it's still there. And that whole, you know, it was farmland, so it wasn't really a neighborhood. But if you drive out there, I mean, there is still just contam you know, contamination everywhere. And these homes that were never fixed up and good part of my story is that a couple months later, after, I just kind of throw up my hands. I'm like, I don't know what to do with this house and investor came in and ended up paying exactly what I owed on the mortgage. And I didn't have to short sell, I didn't have to foreclose on that house. I was out free and clear of this mess. And he ended up he was this guy that flipped homes. He completely revamped that house got it to where it was, you know, habitable because it was deemed uninhabitable but habitable by the city. And he fixed it up. And I wouldn't ever live there again. Still in a flood zone. Right. But it he was able to do it. But I i was able, you know, to get out of get out of that. That's that's a good part of the story.

Jerry Dean Lund: Yeah, that's a plus, you know, sure.

April Katherman Redgrave: It was a huge, huge blessing.

Jerry Dean Lund: You you've had some other blessings happening to you in in your life.

April Katherman Redgrave: Yeah, definitely.

Jerry Dean Lund: What about? Yeah, go ahead.

April Katherman Redgrave: I was just gonna say that I have found love after my loss, which is incredible. And I'm now married, and I call David, my husband on earth. And I call Mike, my husband and heaven because Mike and I are still, he's still my love. He's still my husband, you know, wasn't a divorce, I lost him. And I'm married now to this amazing man, David, that that lets me, lets me still love Mike. And I was able to gain these two incredible bonus kids. And David and I have what I'm learning all these new terms and a blended family is the "ours baby". We have a precious little girl named Savannah, that was a miracle in itself. I was told I couldn't get pregnant. So we went through the IVF process. And for us, luckily, Lord, you know, the Lord blessed us and it was successful. So we have five kids combined between the two of us and you know, there's still the up and down trials with grief because grief doesn't ever go away. And we will always be grieving the loss of Mike and, and the boys and I will always still work through that. And but we have been able to never move on but move forward and, and be happy. And its exactly what Mike would have wanted. He would have wanted me taken care of. He would have wanted the boys to have that. That godly wise man father figure here on Earth. So, I mean, we've been incredibly blessed.

Jerry Dean Lund: Yeah, that's, I mean, that's awesome. That's, I mean, that's an incredible process to go through and what an amazing man to come into your life and you know, embrace that situation and he is having another baby. And like this is, it's like a no, you know, it's, I was gonna say it's like a fairytale ending sort of to such, you know, huge.

April Katherman Redgrave: I get Yeah.

Jerry Dean Lund: That makes sense. That's very downplayed, but yeah. So what compelled you to write this book? Like, how did that come about?

April Katherman Redgrave: Yes. So, in, in the beginning of of the loss, you know, I was going to therapy and, and I was keeping so much in. So how it started was my therapist said you need to get all of this out, you need to start journaling, but I was afraid that someone would see my journal. So I would type up all of my thoughts in a Word document and then delete it. So after a while, I was like, Okay, then I actually started journaling on paper, which I'm glad I did, because now I have that to look back on. And then I had my best friend was like, you need to share this with others, you need to, you know, start writing so others can know your story, because there's people out there that are grieving too. [Yeah], and I was always searching for blogs, or articles and stuff of someone that I can relate to. And so she basically set up the whole blog platform for me, and it was a lot for me to handle emotionally. So I would just write and send it to her. And she would kind of edit it, and, and publish it on this website for me. And that's how it kind of started. And so I would just I started writing about our story, basically, and it would be like part one, part two, and, and more people were starting to get intrigued, you know, by oh my gosh, what happened next. And eventually, it was about a year and a half or two ago, that's when I got in contact with a publisher. And it was kind of like, let's do this, let's, let's, let's take all of those blog posts and all of those writings of your story and, and really put this into something that you can share with others. And, and as as maybe hope for, it doesn't have to be someone grieving from a husband or a wife. It could be someone, you know, who needs hope and grieving from a loss of any family member or, or at a loss because of a divorce or a job or health. There's so many things out there that we that are hard and we we have grief over but it doesn't have to be just a death.

Jerry Dean Lund: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense.

April Katherman Redgrave: And so, I, I just started writing and, and it evolved into this book, and I got it published through redemption press is my publisher, and it just came out in May. So this is all new and exciting. It's been incredibly therapeutic. For me, it's been hard, really hard because I had this writing coach that would pull details out of me that I didn't share with my mom and dad, my sister, my best friend and and they, when they read the book, they're like, I did not know that you would spend every night crying on the bathroom floor. Right? Like, why did you not tell us this? So there's so much just raw detail that I was able to share, which was so therapeutic. And hard though, as you're editing. And as you have to edit your own book, you've got to read it over and over and over. And you get to the point where you're like, Oh my gosh, that happened to me. You know, like, I'm, yeah, but it's been pretty. It's just been very healing, I should say, the full process and being able to share this with others.

Jerry Dean Lund: Was it very, was it very difficult in the beginning to like reread that, like, I can imagine was very hard to write the first time but then like to go back and reread it did that create any, like reliving the situations?

April Katherman Redgrave: Absolutely. There was times where I could only do a paragraph at a time. I'd have I do a paragraph and I would get so worked up and upset I'd have to go take a break. I think that's what I needed, though. Because over the last, you know, couple years, the first two years, I was so just overwhelmed with all my responsibilities of being the widow of a police officer. And and making sure my kids were okay that I didn't get to really grieve I didn't get to, to feel all those feelings. So as hard as Yes, absolutely. What you're saying it was hard as it was. I didn't realize that's exactly what I needed in order to move forward in my healing process.

Jerry Dean Lund: Yeah, so what responsibilities you know of being a police wives widow Like what? What other responsibilities are out there? That kind of you feel like that fell on to you to do to make you not feel compelled to like live out the police widow wife? Does that make sense? Are just those different types of duties or responsibilities he felt?

April Katherman Redgrave: Yeah, there's so many ceremonies that take place. Every single year, there's, there's the yearly ceremonies. And in the beginning the first year, there's, you know, it's called when they're there, their name is put on the wall, like, for example, in DC, it's Police Week, the officers that are killed that year, there's so many extra ceremonies. And in the beginning, you feel in order to honor your spouse, you have to be at every single one. But then they don't stop because their yearly ceremonies, right. And so there's, I mean, there, I couldn't even count how many there were that first year that we attended, and not just we traveled, we traveled all over California, we traveled to Washington, DC, there was different states that have these ceremonies for the nation's officers. And they're amazing, and they're so honoring, and there's so needed, but it's a lot on the family. But then you've got the local stuff you're dealing with, you've got a court appearances, you've got the hearings, you've got, you know, your officer was killed by somebody. So there's a lot that comes with that. And there's all the different there's fundraising events that people put on for you, which is amazing. But you have to you still have to show up or, or, or be there to thank them, right? There's, there's different, you know, they want to name this after my core, you know, there's just so many different honoring amazing things people are doing. And in the beginning, you feel like you have to be there for every single one of them. And it took me to really not have that guilt of not being there to realize years later, I don't have to be at every single one to remember my husband. Because like I said before, he wasn't Officer Katherman to me. And it's hard because you worry about the judgment of others. Like, what if, what if his wife isn't at that ceremony? What does that mean? Does she not care? You know, has she just moved on. And but nobody knows. It's too hard. It's too hard. And in the beginning, you when you have children involved, you bring them to every single one. So they're reliving this nightmare. They're going to these somber events and hearing those bagpipes, hey, bagpipes, by the way, now, you're hearing that over and over and their roll call when they say the officers name and typically how they died. Again, so honoring. But here we are hearing that over and over and over. And for, it's too much for the kids. So I've learned to ask my children before each event would you like to go I let them make a choice. Some they go to some they do not. For example, you know, we're a big San Francisco Giants baseball fans. And every summer it hasn't happened lately, because of COVID. But every summer at the Giants have a law enforcement appreciation night, and they honor the officers that have been killed in the line of duty on the field. You better believe that's the event my boys can't wait to go to and that's okay. They want to go to these happy, fun events to honor their dad. But the traditional ceremonies this past year, well, a lot of them have been of course online because the COVID But even before that, they they didn't want to go and that's okay, I go to by myself sometimes. You know, I've had my husband on Earth, David, go with me. My dad is at every single one holding me up standing by my side. But there's been times where you just say, I can't go to that one. And I have to I have to realize I have to do what's best for me and my children, and not worry about what everybody else is going to view as. Oh, that officers family isn't at the ceremony? Yeah, I just need to learn to respect that. Yeah, yes. Yeah. I mean, a lot.

Jerry Dean Lund: If flip the flip sides, and you were that person in that person, you know, in your shoes, and how much? How much of that, could you endure and then you know, put your kids through? And yeah, and traveling is hard enough alone, you know, traveling to all these various events and stuff. So that's another incredible way exhibiting some great strength in your book, dude, is there something that we haven't talked about that you'd like to talk about that we didn't cover the podcast?

April Katherman Redgrave: You know, I think just in my book, there's, it's not all sad. I just want people to know that it's a lot of back and forth. I do. every chapter I go back and forth between the past and the present. So I start in the beginning of, you know, that night where I see Mike in the hospital, and then I jump right into the first day we met when we were 18. You know, so it's this love story of the two of us, and how he started his career woven into the tragedy. And the humor I tried to make, you know, there be humor in there and fun parts, because Mike, I call it my personal comedian, he is just so funny, and anyone that knows him personally will know that he's just a goofball. Like, his sons, actually. And so I don't want anyone to think, Oh, my gosh, this book is gonna be so sad. Right? Of course, it's very sad. But it's, it's very, it's very happy too, there's so many happy times that we had, and, and, and maybe, maybe a first responder, wife or husband, you know, might be able to get something out of it. Like what I wish, you know, I would have done as a police wife that I didn't at that time or, you know, and it's not just for first responders, either the book, it could really be for anybody.

Jerry Dean Lund: Yeah, yeah. Like you said, anybody going through through grief and going through the process. I think that's awesome, you know, to write it that way of, you know, the back and forth and not just be all sad. And I think that's, people would definitely enjoy reading that and getting something out of it. And it's almost like, you need to make a movie out of this because it is so hard to believe to go through some of these things and still be here today. And you know, with your great strength and positive attitude. that's a that's a huge example, I'm sure to other first responders out there to be able to look up to you for your strength and what you've gone through.

April Katherman Redgrave: Oh, I appreciate that. It's all my faith, I have to just attribute it to God.

Jerry Dean Lund: Yeah, yeah. It's pretty powerful person out there to be on your side.

April Katherman Redgrave: Lately, yeah.

Jerry Dean Lund: So April, what's what's the future look like? With anything new and exciting?

April Katherman Redgrave: You know, I've now that we're kind of slowly getting out of COVID, I've been able to, you know, more dive into more speaking. And I don't know if I mentioned here, but I was a school teacher, you know, an elementary school teacher and I had just got my master's actually the day before my passed away, and I wanted to get into administration. And I feel like I'm taking a break from from that career that really focus on my children and everything. So I'm, I'm moving more towards speaking and ministering to either widows, the law enforcement, community, police wives. And so that's kind of what I have kind of dove into lately is, is working on kind of giving back and helping others maneuver through all of this all of all of life, whether it's the grieving or just, you know, a first responder, life. Yeah,

Jerry Dean Lund: Yeah, you could almost write a whole nother book on how to maneuver through the process of line of duty death. I don't think there's a lot out there that and I think there needs to be some advocates out there just to help people know, not that any wife or husband or wants to the spouse wants to read a book, dealing without, but that's part being part of this job is like something that you we we need to be more prepared for, not because it's terribly hard conversation. And no one wants to have it. But we have to have some preparation in case something happens like that.

April Katherman Redgrave: Yeah, there's a lot that I wish I would have known that I didn't know.

Jerry: I think that's a great opportunity for you. Because I think you could I mean, if you were up to it, I think that would just be something that people would you know, a class that you could put on and do your speaking and stuff and a little pamphlet and books or something like that would be amazing. So I look forward to seeing those from you in the future. You know, I, I always ask this question at the end of the podcast, like what impact do you want to have in the world?

April Katherman Redgrave: So I definitely want to always leave Mike's legacy for the world. I want everyone to just know, always what an amazing, godly husband, dad, son, brother, police officer that he was, and also by always giving the glory to God and everything that I do, but I hope that I can be just this little light for people that are going through a hard time and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And no matter how hard and impossible things might look right now that there is His hope and, and just be maybe lead by example, in the fact that things will get better Have some faith and work on you. And you know, just I hope that I can bring some inspiration to even one person.

Jerry: While you're doing that, definitely for sure. I do have I have a follow up question? When the when it seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel? Was there? What gave you hope? I know God, you know, in your faith gave you a lot of hope. Did you did you pray do was there something like that was like your kind of your go to thing to help you feel like there was some light at the end of the tunnel?

April Katherman Redgrave: Of course, prayer is huge. And also wanting to be okay, for my children, I think they were a huge motivation to is, is wanting to make sure that they would be okay. But prayer and seeking counsel from others, you know, I've mentioned that I went through therapy, and I was so against that in the beginning. You know, I feel like there's this big stigma on it. And I was one of those people that put it on that it was just hard, I hate it. I just was sick of crying, you know, and I would just cry there and then be exhausted the rest of the day. But it was so needed. And there's, there's so many different kinds of therapies out there, my children didn't go sit in an office with a stranger, they went to a specific law enforcement, military horse ranch, to where they got to be with animals and, and work through all of their issues without even realizing they were. So there's lots of different avenues that you can take in in that realm. But that is definitely something that really helped me kind of push forward was was talking with somebody, a professional that could help me maneuver through my grief. Definitely.

Jerry Dean Lund: Yeah, I bet that was I've gone through some therapy and stuff just personally used EMDR if you've ever heard that.

April Katherman Redgrave: Yeah, my one of my sons did that.

Jerry Dean Lund: Oh Okay. Yeah. I really enjoyed that type of therapy. I think it's just your stigmatism. Sometimes just we think there's just only one type of therapy. But there's just all these other different types of therapies out there. And I think finding the one that works for you, that resonates for you. That's that's important, because then you then you gravitate and you're like, I want to go to that, like I instead of I don't want to go to that.

April Katherman Redgrave: And I wish I would have done this before I was not okay, if that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. Like you don't have to go do that just because there's something wrong in your life. Right.

Jerry Dean Lund: Right. Right. That's a great, great point. Well, I really appreciate having on today, April, you're an amazing and inspiring person. And I'm so glad you wrote a book about this that others can get out there and find it. It's on Amazon, right?

April Katherman Redgrave: It is Through Hell and High Water. It's on Amazon, Barnes and Noble ebook platforms. Yes.

Jerry Dean Lund: Okay. Where else can people find you? Do you have them follow your personal page on Instagram? Or is that okay?

April Katherman Redgrave: Yeah, so I have an Instagram page called beautyforourashes blog. And you can follow me there. I'm also on Facebook, for Beauty for Our Ashes is what it's called. So definitely follow me there. I share a lot about everything I'm going through with grief and life after loss and love after loss and, and different tips for police wives on that, so yeah, great. I would love to connect with anyone there.

Jerry Dean Lund: Okay. Great. Well, thank you once again for being on.

April Katherman Redgrave: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it

Outro: Thank you for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you access your podcasts. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our hosts, Jerry Dean Lund through the Instagram handles at jerryfireandfuel, or at Enduring the Badge Podcast. Also by visiting the show's website, enduringthebadgepodcast.com for additional methods of contact and up to date information regarding show. Remember the views and opinions expressed during the show, solely represent those of our hosts and the current episodes' guests.

April Katherman-Redgrave

Author/Speaker/Blogger

April Katherman-Redgrave is an author, speaker, blogger, and founder of Beauty for Our Ashes Ministry. As the surviving widow of fallen San Jose Police Motors Officer Michael J. Katherman, April experienced unimaginable brokenness and despair but also witnessed how God redeemed a terrible situation into one of great beauty and joy. Once a school teacher and aspiring educational administrator, April now writes and speaks to encourage law enforcement, the grieving, the divorced, blended families, and finding love after loss.