Today I feel like I am supposed to write about yesterday, which if you are here in Minnesota, was an amazing day of tribute to another fallen officer at the hands of an individual who has little concern for human life or the impact that taking that life would have on not just a family, but on an entire community. For me in my window of law enforcement, it is the fourth funeral for an officer that Frank and I would have attended together, but due to plans made a year ago, I did not. It was difficult to make that decision in the end, the decision to not attend, but I knew that my blue family would not disappoint me with their show of support.
What I didn’t know was how disjointed I would feel during the day, even when it was a day specially designed for relaxation.
What I do know is this:
- There is nothing to compare to a funeral for law enforcement when the community joins together to honor an officer and his family
- Each snapshot you see of the squad cars traveling to the funeral, either from inside a car, our outside as it goes by, brings back the emotion and memories of prior funerals.
- Every officer in their dress uniform looks commanding and proud, ready to honor a fellow brother or sister.
- If you find your spouse, your brother, your uncle, cousin or sister in that crowd of uniforms, your heart skips a beat, because you know this could be a funeral for your family, and it hurts your heart.
- When you hear the bagpipes play, it becomes impossible to hold back the reality of the situation, and you start to cry, even if you are hundreds of miles away, and not sitting in the church.
- There is always laughter, even in the most tragic of situations, and that laughter during the ceremony gives you a breather to swim up from the lake of sadness and despair, even if just for a moment.
- Hearing the shift of duty belts, low radios and the quiet sniffles of officers around you will always bring you right back to the momentous heartbreak of the situation, even days after the funeral.
- Standing up to honor the fallen officer as he is taken by the honor guard out of the church to his final resting place is both a relief and a devastating reminder that another hero is gone from this world.
- Being part of a law enforcement processional is one of the longest and most awe inspiring times of your life, whether you are sitting in the middle of the line in a car, or on the edge of a road, reading aloud each city as they roll by, car after car, after car.
- Heading to the final resting place, whether you are standing in a frozen field, or among green trees under the sun, is humbling.
- Time seems to both freeze and fast forward, and what seems like such short time, hours of work and preparation fly by with the emotional weight of a tank, and you don’t know how you will pull yourself back up from the heartache of each shocking moment.
But what I know for sure is that the moment final call begins, I will be lost in the sea of emotion, unable to deny the intense pain of hearing that officers number called out one final time, and the cracking voice of the dispatcher telling the world that this officer has passed to his final resting place, and the brothers and sisters still commanding duty will take the watch from here.
That is what I know today.