This morning I woke up a good two hours before anyone else in the house. My mornings are always a little hectic, trying to get everyone up and ready and out the door on time, given the limitations of the world’s slowest eater and three people sharing a single bathroom. It’d probably go easier on me if I’d better prepare the night before, but I’m just not that disciplined. I can’t deny that I honestly love that time of day – the only part of my day that is quiet.
After I finished packing lunches and throwing clothes in the dryer for de-wrinkling (look at me, adulting all up in here), I stopped for a minute to respond to an email. Sitting on the couch, I could hear snores coming from both sides of the hallway – both my guys, sleeping soundly. The sound that annoys wives on TV sitcoms left me with grateful tears in my eyes. That sound means my guys are safe, sound, and sleeping restfully - and to a mother of a little boy and a partner of a police officer, there is nothing more comforting.
There isn’t much I can say that hasn’t already been said about life with a police officer. If you are in a family or a relationship with a law enforcement officer (LEO), you’ve heard it before and you know it by heart. If you aren’t, it would be difficult to understand how the sound of Velcro being unstrapped at the end of a shift soothes a worried soul. The way even your four year old knows where to sit when you enter a restaurant so that your officer can scan as much of the room as possible. Knowing you’ll never sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door, in any room, ever. The way Kevlar smells in the summer. The awkwardness when he has recently arrested the person sitting next to the two of you at a restaurant – or worse, the waiter or waitress. The stray bullets in the washing machine. The bullets in the dryer. The bullets in the sock drawer and on the bedside table and in the kitchen and somehow in your purse. Seriously, there are a LOT of bullets.
There are good things - the undeniable sense of pride. The environment of family. The way he looks in a fresh uniform. But there is an exceptional amount of worry – and that’s coming from me, the Queen of Worry. There is always fear – what if we lose him? What if he gets hurt? What balance can I create to help him when he’s off duty? Can I do anything to prevent the statistics rising? Does he know how much we love and appreciate him before he puts on his badge and walks out the door? Even when I wasn’t in the same town or we weren’t in the same house, I knew. I knew what time he would be strapping on that vest and those boots, I knew what time to start worrying – and I didn’t stop until I got a text that he was off duty.
I have no doubt that he is a good police officer. I trust him to do his job as safely as possible. He is, truly, one of the “good guys”. But it’s a wild world of madness we live in. And please, don't think that LEOs "knew what they were getting in to when they took the job”. There isn’t a single police officer or first responder who took on the job and agreed to be attacked while changing a tire for a disabled couple, or shot repeatedly while they were gassing up their car off-duty, or to have their homes broken into and be murdered, or their families targeted. Risk and danger in the line of duty? Yes. They sign up for that so they can protect us where we’d never dare to tread ourselves. But ambush and attacks and violence for no other reason than that they wear a badge? No.
Yes, there are bad LEOs. That goes without saying, just like every other profession in the world. I’ve crossed paths with a couple myself. Most of them are good though, truly. Amazing, strong, and willing to risk it all to keep you and yours safe. Yeah, they can be rough around the edges. You have to be, seeing the world at its worst the way they do every day. But they want to get home safe, just like you do. And they have someone who wants them home safe, too.
In my hometown, a family prepares to bury their deputy. In towns across the country, spouses and children and parents mourn a life lost in the line of duty. And so, in that quiet moment of silence this morning, I whispered my first prayer of the day. “Keep him safe. Bring him home to me. Let him know he is loved. Bring all of them home, every one.”