It’s been a month since Denny died. So I think it’s time for me to finish up what actually happened in those few days. I’m feeling sick just thinking about it. I don’t know why. Because I talk about it all of the time. It’s therapeutic to talk about it. But for some reason putting it into writing solidifies it. It’s like that feeling when you drop on a roller coaster. That’s what my stomach feels like as I write this. Except it doesn’t go away. It’s like I just keep dropping.

If you haven’t read, Part I Is here and Part II is here.

It was around 2 when two Police Officers came to my door. I love “True Crime,” and Crime TV shows. I know what it means when two cops come to your door. It’s not good. I know this. It’s kind of just common knowledge, right? But I didn’t even have a glimpse of a thought that this was bad. I thought they were coming to get more info, ask me questions. I don’t know. Anything but that. I didn’t even imagine that could be a possibility.

It was me, my girls, my sister Jessi, my aunt Heidi, and my neighbor/great friend Jeni. I invited the officers in. “Come on in! Please have a seat!” I said. They looked at me like I was crazy but came in the door. Jeni left so that I could have time to talk with them. No one assumed anything bad at all at this point.

The officers stood just a few feet in from the door and didn’t seem to want to come in. So I stood near them and asked what I could do for them. “Mrs. Bates, I’m afraid we have some bad news.” I remember these words. My mind started racing. What? No. Wait… what? What could they be talking about? He’s drunk. They found him wasted or crashed or he’s in the hospital.

“Wha… Um… Did you find him?”

“Yes. We found him.”

Now I don’t remember exactly what he said at this point. This is where it gets blurry. It’s like my brain was being flooded by a giant fast waterfall and I couldn’t hear, see, think, breathe. But basically they told me he was found in his car with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.


My sister jumped up to hold me. I fell into her arms. The Officer started saying a ton of things. I don’t remember any of it except for him saying several times to Jessi, “You’ll have to tell her this because she won’t remember.”

I think I just said “No. No. No.” Over and over and over again. It was filling my brain and I couldn’t stop my head from shaking back and forth and I couldn’t stop myself from saying it.

I fell to the floor. And I couldn’t breathe. Try being punched in the gut and losing your breath multiplied by ten. I was practically gasping for air. Winnie ran over to me almost immediately and wrapped me up in a hug. She said, “It’s okay Mommy. Daddy’s coming home soon.” That was another punch. I fell again and sobbed.

This all happened in less than a minute. Heidi grabbed Winnie. She took her out the door without a jacket or shoes. The officers handed some papers to Jessi and Piper crawled up to me and was climbing on me and fussing. I think I asked the cops a question or two and then they left. I am pretty sure I thanked them when they left so at least I know I’m polite when I’m in shock.

Jessi asked me what I wanted her to do and I asked her to start calling people. My dad, my sister Gabi who was in Iceland, I can’t remember who else. I called his mom immediately. She almost screamed into the phone when I told her. I asked her to call the siblings. I didn’t want to have to tell her that. But I wanted her to know before anyone else. I then called Thom, his best friend, and the only other person who I believe knows even close to as much about Denny as I do. The only person who has been around Denny almost daily for 15 years. I don’t even remember what he said to me. But I knew it would break him like it broke me and like it broke Denny’s mom.

It’s weird how often God places people in your path at the right time. Denny’s boss, Clint, one of the men Denny admired the absolute most, had called me earlier and said he was coming to visit that day. I had told him about the situation the day before and he was so understanding and showed so much love towards Denny. Clint kept telling me how everyone deals with stuff, there’s no judgment, Denny’s not in danger of losing his job, and he just wants to help him however he can. That is a good man. I understand why Denny aspired to be like him.

I feel it was God’s influence when Clint and his wife showed up within minutes of the Police leaving. I was alone. Jessi has gone out to help Heidi get Winnie situated. I had finished talking to Thom. I was just sitting there. They came in and saw me and I honestly don’t remember what I told them. But they both gave me hugs and we all sat and cried together for what seemed like forever. This kind couple went through all of those initial emotions with me and let me feel them with no judgment, let me express my anger and sadness and heartbreak with only love returned. I’m so grateful they were there at that time. They were people I hardly knew but exactly who I needed.

Many people visited throughout the evening. I don’t even remember all of them. I do remember when the detective came by. She came with a young officer. The detective looked tough but kind. And she was. You probably have to be to deal with stuff like this.

She asked to speak with me privately, just her and the officer. We went into my bedroom since there were several people in the living room. She sat on my bed with me and talked with me. She told me more of the details of how he was found. She told me what they found in the car with him, including notes, which I will one day share. She talked about the medical examiners office and what would happen with the car he was in. She told me an investigation would be done that would take up to six months including the toxicology report. It was weird how I would go from smiling and pleasantries to sobbing. But I had already sobbed so much that day that my eyes were too dry to put out any tears. It was a strange and uncomfortable feeling.

March 23, 2019 was easily the worst day of my life. Something I couldn’t even imagine happening came true. I never even would have said it was my worst fear because I wouldn’t have thought of this as a possibility in any way. It wasn’t anything I could even comprehend until it actually happened.

I hate it. I hated that day. I always will. But here we are one month out and I’m functioning. I’m snuggling my Winnie in bed and she’s falling asleep while I write this. I have had endless numbers of people helping in every possible way and I am here. I am alive. I get out of bed every day. I take care of my girls. We even have dance parties and play silly games. I may only be surviving because I have to for my daughters. But I am. And that’s more than anyone can even ask of me right now.

Here is a video of Denny being the cutest dad and a recent video of Winnie not appreciating my dance moves because her face is priceless.

8 thoughts on “When It Happened III

  1. I’m blown away by you every time you post something. I’ve talked about you to everyone I come into contract with. You need to become a suicide awareness speaker. The world needs you! You’ve already influenced so many around you. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers always!

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve shared every one of your blog entries and videos with my husband, who suffers from severe depression and thoughts of suicide. I think your story has changed his perspective. He, like most others who suffer believes I’ll be better off. I’ll be sad, but I’ll eventually get over it. I know he thinks differently now. If you are sharing your story to help others, know it is working and Denny’s death isn’t for nothing. Thank you and God Bless anyone that loved him.

  3. I am so freakin’ proud of you to share this, Danni. This is the raw truthfulness that is rarely shared. I feel like I understand so much more about suicide and the process of grieving. There is no pride in these posts, just honesty. When we are honest and open we heal, others grow, and many are saved.

    You’re so beautiful and your children are darlings. What a sweet and loving family you have! God bless you all!

  4. While, I sit here typing this with tears in my eyes my heart breaks for you. I have battled depression and anxiety since I was a teen (33 now). I have many times questioned if my 2 boys would be better off without me, if everyone would be… then without any explanation it slaps me in the face that it would shatter my boys world. They are my only reason for being here, and getting out of bed most days. I am in the process of getting back into therapy and getting back on medication. Someone shared the video of one of your girls crying about missing their daddy. When I am questioning whether my boys will be better off or not, I will remember that video. Thank you for being so open. For those of us suffering with this horrible disease it helps us to realize that we arent alone and we have someone out there that does love us and it would shatter their world if we weren’t in it any more.

  5. I don’t know you, but we have walked very similar paths. My son has attempted suicide twice. By some miracle, we were able to locate him before he gathered the courage to pull the trigger a second time (he forgot to take the safety off shen he pulled the trigger the first time). We as a family nearly fell apart after that attempt. Therapy, time, reflection, and 2 hospital stays have helped. The thing that helped me the most was knowing that we were not alone. I’m sorry your family is having to navigate this horrible path. I know I said “we seem to be through the worst of it” when we would hit a new low. I started describing our daily life as a roller coaster. I was buckled in and had my hands on the safety bar, but I wasn’t in control. It has been almost 17 months. The twists and turns have gotten easier to manage, my family is still hanging on, and we are adjusting. I say this to let you know that while things will never be what they once were, you will find a way to help your children and yourself get the emotions out, manage the grief, and love the memories (good and bad). You will find strength you never knew you had and wish you didn’t need it. I will pray for your family.

  6. My daughter’s fiancé committed suicide on March 29th, 2018. He left behind a beautiful (almost 2) year old baby, her sister, a 12 year old beautiful girl who loved him, and my daughter, who was the love of his life.
    He shot himself in the head, with my daughters (hidden gun) behind the garage at my daughter’s house, where they were living. My daughter found him.
    I am sorry for your loss. I understand the pain that you have been through, and are going through. My daughter will never be the same, my little granddaughter will never know the feeling of her father’s arms again, and my now 13 year old granddaughter is totally devastated by the loss of the one man who she finally was going to be able to call dad. My prayers are with you, as you move through your days. I hope you find peace & happiness again. I hope my daughter & granddaughters do too. God bless you.

  7. I lost my best friend, and maid of honor at my wedding 31 years ago…she called me, but I didn’t answer the phone because I had been up all night with my first child teething, and I was exhausted and wanted to sleep more… this day I can not STAND an unanswered phone. Her mother found her minutes after her call to me. I often think…if I had just answered that phone!

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