Trigger warning: Child injury.
No matter what amount of money, material items or fame you may or may not have, none of it is as important as family. Having a wonderful spouse to turn to is invaluable, as is having children the two of you have together. There's also your parents and even your in-laws, who you can turn to for advice or just spend time with on occasion. You love them all so much that you couldn't imagine life without them. Your biggest nightmare is to lose your loved ones in a senseless tragedy.
But for Tampa Bay Rays pitcher prospect Blake Bivens, such a nightmare has become a horrifying reality for him. Just last week, Bivens' wife, Emily; son Cullen; and mother-in-law Joan, were all shot to death in Virginia. He shared his anguish and grief about the tragedy in a touching Instagram post with images that included himself, his wife, their baby boy, and his mother-in-law.
"Emily, my sweetheart, you are the best wife and mother this world has ever seen. You made me into the man I am today and you loved me with all of my flaws... My sweet little boy, dada loves you so much! I can’t breathe without you here. I finally understood what love was when you were born and I would have done anything for you... Joan you were the best mother-in-law anyone could ask for. You loved your family more than anyone I’ve ever seen. You raised the most wonderful girl in the world. I’m so glad y’all are still together," Bivens expressed throughout the emotional post.
The person allegedly responsible for this terrible familial homicide has been identified as Matthew Bernard. Bernard is Bivens' brother-in-law and Emily's younger brother. According to the criminal complaint, Bernard assaulted a female neighbour using shooting his sister, nephew, and mother to death with a rifle. He then fled the scene, which led to a manhunt so extensive that a nearby school was put on lockdown and had the police using a tank. Eventually, Bernard emerged from a nearby forest stark naked before assaulting an employee inside a church nearby. Bernard was put into custody shortly after and has since been charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He remains in jail on suicide watch at this time.
This is clearly a tragic situation that no one deserves to be put in. But in the aforementioned Instagram post, Bivens also took the time to express his gratitude to his surviving father-in-law and his baseball teammates.
"Skip you are a wonderful father and grandfather. We will get through this together as a family. We will not let the devil win!" he wrote. "I am comforted by all the messages and well wishes. I’m not sure what is next for me, but I do know God has a plan even though I can’t see it."
Our deepest thoughts and prayers go to Bivens and his surviving family. Here's hoping that justice will be served for his wife, son, and mother-in-law.