A Door Quietly Closes…

Each journey begins with a step off of the regular daily path onto a new one; sometimes these steps are taken voluntarily - tentative towards a new direction - or boldly with a commitment to the future.

Sometimes the journey begins without warning - a thrust out of the typical daily life plan towards a scary new place without warning, without preparation, and often, without a parachute or safety net.

Today we bring you that unplanned scary moment that we could see in the distance, hoping that it would not be real.  The moment of a new unplanned, scary journey is begin faced now with strong shoulders and very sad hearts.  On December 31st, Frank will officially be medically retired from the Savage Police Department due to the injuries sustained in that terrible car crash on January 2, 2012.

Almost three years have gone by - three years initiated with extreme fear and pain, settling into perseverance and focus, coming to the end result of immense recovery, yet resounding devastation that dreams and hard work cannot fix all things broken.  Determination can bring an individual far past the boundaries of thought and medicine, but sometimes even intense determination cannot match the needs of your old life, and that can bring heartbreak.

Law enforcement and military personally share a common focus - they often perceive that what they are is who they are.  Being part of a profession that prides itself on running towards the dangers instead of away from them makes one live life in a scarier and larger place than the rest of us.  That honor code becomes a life pursuit, and when you live your life focused on this code, you become that code of honor.

Imagine how life would be perceived by an individual when this code, this badge of who you are every day, is ripped away.  No longer do you see yourself as an officer, but you also lose who you feel that you are as a person.  The entire foundation of who you are and what you are no longer exist - at least to that officer.  Giving up your department, your gun and your badge feels like you are giving up your entire world, like you are giving up yourself - and that you no longer exist.

Every day officers and soldiers feel this way when they are retired due to injuries sustained while performing the jobs that most of us could not imagine being a daily norm. Every day there is an officer handing over his badge, his gun and his identity back to the department that was once their home, their world and their life.  When they walk out of that door, they no longer know who they are, what they are, or what will become of them.  Those that ran towards the danger are no longer allowed to be part of the brethren running to help others, and they become lost in the loss.

Those of us on the outside see the pain but cannot truly understand the complete soul drowning experience that this brings - how could we?  We may be able to sympathize with the situation, but can we truly understand the depth of the perception of what they feel as losing their entire identity?  I personally cannot, and I can only stand by and offer my hand, my heart and my strength during these intense moments of loss and fear.

We don't know what the future holds for Frank - there are many small steps away from the hurt and sadness that need to be taken before anything else can happen to move forward.  The goal is to find a future professional focus that continues to utilize his skills and development as an officer that loved training and helping others in his community.  These passions and talents still remain today as a center core of who he was, and who he is now.  Finding the strength to trust that there will be a place to land after this feeling of free fall is sometimes hard to come by - but thankfully, we have been given the gift of people, officers, friends, chaplains and strangers that have found it in their hearts to care enough to give us prayers, kindness and love.

We are relying on that love, and those prayers right now to get us past this new and difficult time.

Una Stamus

8 thoughts on “A Door Quietly Closes…

  1. So sorry to hear of the decision that was made for Frank to not be able to return to his police department. Praying for him and for your family that God will open a new door for him and provide a job that he will be happy with in his time.

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  2. Lisabeth, in my mind, the transition that you, tank, and your entire family are now facing is one of the most challenging and most rewarding opportunities in the long journey. Most people do not like change; they like it less when it is forced upon them by circumstances outside their control. However, this is an opportunity for introspection, invention, and growth as well. What were those dreams that had to pushed away years ago. Is now the ideal opportunity to pursue those dreams? What has the experience taught the survivor and the caregiver? How can that experience help others?

    Reply
  3. Chelsie Hitchcock

    Lisabeth, words cannot describe how heavy our hearts are for you and your beautiful family.

    Chris and Chelsie

    Illegitimis non carborundum

    Reply
  4. Jennifer

    Hi Lisa,
    I'm so sorry to hear this news...Frank must indeed be devastated. You'll all be in our thoughts and prayers as you live your way into yet another "new normal".
    I'm so glad he has you and I'm so glad that you have so many people nearby who love and support you. Take good care of yourself (put your own oxygen mask on first before you help those around you).
    much love,
    Jen

    Reply
  5. Gail Heinemann

    It is with great sadness that I read this post. It is so easy to confuse what one does with who one is. Will pray that God will lead you both through this time of sadness and change to a new and rewarding job on the other side.

    Reply
  6. Christian Dobratz

    Frank and Lisabeth,

    I am truly saddened to hear that these past years of hard work and determination will end in Frank's medical retirement. As I read your article, it brought back all of the old feelings I had; undergoing fusion surgery to get me back to functioning as an officer, only to have it spell the end of my 18 year career. Hope and understanding, in the beginning, is so hard to see because we go to work one day thinking at any given moment, someone in the community, or the entire community for that matter, will need us; and wake up the next day feeling as though nobody needs us. You are right Lisabeth, it completely strips you of your identity and everything you stand for. In part, it is because this is a calling; not just a job or a profession, but an inner calling, just like the military. It is something very few in society aspire to do or be, which is why it is so hard for those not in the profession to understand.

    As you noted, this happens everyday in the profession across the country; however in some cases it is easier than others. Some departments and officers are supportive and others are not; something we take for granted, especially when it is so hard to see what the future looks like. One of the biggest lessons I learned in all my struggles was that we are still needed; our family, friends, co-workers and loved ones still need us. Just because they don't stop or call as often as we would like, they still need us. Our families still needs their wives/husbands, mothers/fathers, sons/daughters.

    Frank is so blessed to have as many friends as he does, supporting him. But most importantly Lisabeth, he has your undying love and support, your hand, heart and shoulder to lean upon. It is often hard for us to express to our loved ones who do support us; but I know how much Frank appreciates your unwavering love and support Lisabeth, and it is such a testament to the relationship you both have.

    It will take time to come to terms with this; and professional help is so worth it when it is needed. Their will be ups and downs, tears and laughter, sadness and joy...but in the end, I am confident that Frank will find his new purpose from a profession/career standpoint; it may be in a related field or something completely different. Never the less, his life will move on, as does everybody's. However his purpose from a family standpoint is still the same...he is needed to be the same husband and father he was before the accident. With the love and support that he has, Frank is truly blessed. Its not always easy to see, but if we seek it... it is very easy to feel...once we feel it, it becomes so easy to see.

    May God continue to bless your family and all your future endeavors. It is a privilege to know you both and to call you friends. Best wishes this Holiday Season!

    Christian

    Reply

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