As I was driving back to Houston Monday afternoon after a weekend at the lake with my family, I received a text message from Bert Graham. An impromptu get-together to remember and mourn Mike Anderson was being held at Cottonwood on Shepherd and he wanted me to know I was invited. I dropped off my family and drove straight there.
The place was wall-to-wall with current prosecutors and former prosecutors from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. There were a lot of tears. A lot of hugs. A lot of fond remembrances of a good man by people who loved him dearly.
The occasion was unprecedented, obviously. The type of gathering, however, was not.
Ever since I first started in 1999, former and current members of the Harris County District Attorney's Office have gathered together in good times and bad to either celebrate or mourn. It is one of the remarkable things about that place that has always made me regard it with such affection. Outside of the job description of being a prosecutor, an investigator or an administrative assistant, there has always been a bond between the people who worked there. Whether we were current or former employees, we celebrated each other's victories and achievements in life and we mourned each other's losses and tragedies.
As I was leaving the gathering yesterday, I got a chance to talk to First Assistant Belinda Hill and give her a hug. Through everything the Office has gone through the past few months, she has risen to the occasion to see them through it all.
"This place is a family," Belinda told me. "Even if it is a little dysfunctional sometimes."
I smiled and agreed with her and pointed out that it was usually more "functional" than a lot of families I knew.
Belinda's point was right on and hearing her say it made me grateful that she was there for the Office in its time of need. She embodies what families do when tragedy strike. They pull together and they step up their efforts to get through the tragedy together.
Even though it's been awhile since I was an employee there, the sense of family remains.