It is difficult to put into words the many emotions that we experienced last night at the benefit in Savage. When we arrived, we were in the parking lot as people were already stopping to talk with Frank. As our family entered through the front of the Legion, Frank and I went through the back after we were told that was where the press was waiting. As we entered into the large banquet room, it was overwhelming to see so many people, many in Frank the Tank t-shirts. If it was overwhelming for me, I can only imagine how Frank felt - in fact, when I asked him, he said that he was so surprised at how many people were there.
As we turned in a circle, we found the press group, and Frank was swarmed by cameras. Thankfully, that was also the moment that his team found him, and he was engulfed in big hugs by the other officers in the department. It was truly a moment we have been waiting for, so much like the hugs in the hospital being surrounded by officers, only this time there was laughter, and joy and hope - and Frank was a part of it, instead of in a hospital bed.
This event has so much meaning for us - I still don't think Frank understands the entire scope of his impact on others in law enforcement. Not just LEO's, but families, their children and their partners. All night long he was told how important his recovery is to so many officers, and that they watch his progress each week, and they are praying for his return to work. I know that I spent the evening meeting many of these people, and listening to their stories, and their prayers for Frank and our family.
There are so many moments frozen in my mind last night - I wish that I could freeze frame them, like video snapshots, to play back later. I certainly will not forget them, but I know some will fade, as time and new events occur. It was moments such as speaking to a woman in tears, only to realize that it was her call that Frank was responding to, that will stay strong. Meeting Savage residents that Frank has been in contact with throughout the years, shaking his hand, praying for his recovery. Shaking hands with a wonderful family from Lake City, and knowing the pain brought to that community this year, yet having them take the time to say hello to our family. Full-filling a promise to a teenager that was so sad at the hospital - that day so long ago I reminded him of how strong Frank was, and that he would pull through - and watching them say hello and talk about the past ridealongs. Talking with so many that read Caring Bridge, follow Frank's story, and talk of courage and strength taken from our families journey, and the focus on things that are important in life, and not the trivial.
It was also very special to see many people from my places of employment - although I only recently left permanently, I have not been working much since January, and to see them come out to support us brought tears to my eyes. I cherish those people - I will certainly miss their compassion and drive to take care of others that are ill or injured.
Hugs from injured officers, letters of triumph over injury, hand shakes, huge hugs, prayers and laughter. That is what the night will be for us - frozen in those memories, new ones for Frank that he will now be able to maintain. I know that having Frank back among those that love and support him meant everything to him.
As I said to the group last night, there are not enough words for thank you to express how I feel. How do you put into words the love and support that you feel when walking into a room, full of people, some you know, many you don't, and instantly feel welcomed?
I don't think you can - but if you were there, you felt how our family feels each day. The love of the brother/sisterhood of the blue line - and the never ending support that lives among those that join those ranks. It wasn't just the blue t-shirts, or the uniforms, its the compassion and pride, the honor and strength of those that serve, that bring that feeling to the surface.
It was my honor to be among all of you last night - I have no idea how, or when, or where, but we will pay this forward. Our journey continues, one step at a time - I don't know where the path leads, but I know you are all with us, walking alongside of us, and that, my friends, is the best feeling of all.