There is a man dancing in my living room right now. No, I’m not hosting a bachelorette party. I’m watching my husband make my little boy giggle so hard that he isn’t able to make any noise. Our son doesn’t understand who his daddy is when he leaves home in the mornings. He doesn’t quite understand that his father is a policeman. To him, he’s the guy who gives him a bath that always involves toy airplanes and the most elaborate sound effects. He’s the guy who picks him up off the ground, dusts him off, and kisses away his latest self induced injury. It’s tough being stuck in a little toddler body sometimes. Even though he doesn’t know who his daddy is when he is away from home, he already knows one thing to be certain. His daddy is his hero.
Let’s rewind to a few days ago. My husband received a phone call that no officer wants to hear. An officer had been shot while responding to a domestic dispute call. He was part of the team that responded. Here we are, several days later, and he still hasn’t talked about it. And even though he hasn’t said a word, I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m a visual person. I imagine everything I write, everything I read, and everything I hear. I’ve read the news account of what happened and it plays through my mind every single time; except the difference between me and the common reader is that I picture my husband on that scene. I imagine what his mind was thinking as they approached the home of the suspect. I imagine what he felt when he saw the blood of one of his brothers in blue on the ground. I imagine what it’s like to feel that kind of anger and sadness while managing to maintain self control. Throughout our marriage, I have put myself in his shoes time and time again and no matter how many times I try to truly understand, I always wind up with the same conclusion. I’m incapable of understanding it.
A police spouse may be the closest person when it comes to understanding our people in uniform. At the end of the day, I’m not certain that we even come close to scratching the surface of what they feel while being required to force it to the back of their minds. If they don’t, the world will devour them with it’s brokenness. They would be incapable of functioning without the constant elements of grief and fear. The world is so hellbent on taking away the human element of who they are. Regardless of how great they become at choking down the emotions that come with a child abuse call or the multiple fatalities of an accident, they still feel. When we get upset, we are allowed to cry, be angry, and show our emotions. They are not. Unfortunately, they still do but they just aren’t allowed to show it. They are courageous but that does not mean they do not feel. In the words of the great John Wayne, “Courage is being afraid but saddling up anyway.”
Tonight, my husband is the man dancing in our living room in order to receive a few laughs from his son. I don’t know who he will have to be tomorrow. That, in itself, is not something that I am able to process. I think of the few times in our marriage where he nearly didn’t come home and I know that another moment like that is always lurking around the corner. For some, it won’t be a “nearly’ any more. It will become a “did happen.” I can’t emphasize enough how much they need us right now. I don’t feel like I have enough words to properly illustrate how much we need to raise our voices. They have a responsibility to two different worlds; the world of their occupation and the world of their families. It’s hard lending my husband to the protection of those who do not appreciate him. But no matter how much I hate seeing him walk out that door sometimes, I cannot change who he is. I can’t tell him to not suit up. He will do it anyway because, whether or not you do, he still believes in his purpose. He still knows his contribution to this world. It’s more than a job. It’s more than a uniform. It’s a deep rooted calling that cannot be caged.
He knows he might not get to come home. So do I. The very least you could do is not minimize that by saying “he signed up for the job.” and, instead, reach out and shake his hand. Tell him thank you. Tell him you’ve got his back. It’s that kind of moment that makes suiting up worth it. And even if he doesn’t require it to do his job well, that doesn’t mean I can’t want it for him. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it. It’s Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. I hope you did your part because I assure you that our men and women in blue most certainly did theirs.
With the recent and tragic events that have occurred in Paris, France over the past 48 hours, I found myself thinking about the incident in Sydney, Australia that took place in December 2014. It made me realize that it’s not just law enforcement that is being attacked; it’s the concept of goodness. Evil is attacking goodness. Evil doesn’t like those that will stand up against it. Evil wants us to be afraid. Fortunately, there is more goodness. There is more integrity. There is more perseverance in those who rise up against evil. I’m thankful for the men and women who willingly do this every single day. They aren’t ever going to stop fighting for us. We should never stop being thankful for them.
“Where there is evil, goodness will rise about against it.” – Megamind
– Elizabeth Shiftwell