Have you ever stood in line at your favorite coffee shop, waiting for your order thinking “Seriously! Come on – how much longer is this going to take?” Have you ever actually took out your watch, started the timer, and looked at the actual time it took to get your order?
It is usually a much shorter time than you thought.
But our society is in such a rush, hurrying from one thing to the next, trying to get to that next meeting, next event, next whatever. I was in that exact situation today, waiting for Caribou, worrying about being late to the airport, where Frank and I had to meet up with some people this morning. Watching the drinks being made, watching as someone elses drink was ready while mine was still pending, made me irritated. Now, I am not typically impatient, but for some reason today I was in a hurry, and I wanted what I wanted right away. As I hurried out of Caribou, and got back into the car, Frank informed me that we might be late.
Thanks as always for pointing out that I am running behind, a common state for me these days.
I do have to say though, people with head injuries do not have a good concept of the passing of time – what is five minutes to them is 15 for the rest of us. Frank and I headed to the airport, where we were meeting up with Chaplains and other officers for a very important event. Today, families of fallen officers were leaving the Twin Cities for Washington DC, where they will be hand delivered, escorted and driven to events.
This is a very important week for law enforcement, and it is both exciting and heartbreaking to be there. If you are an invited family, with an officer liaison, it means that your officer has been lost in the line of duty in the past year. If you are part of the processions and process, it is an honor to celebrate those officers at the event, and those that have been delivered to their End of Watch.
Frank and I met up with the family of Officer Shawn Schneider first this morning. The family members were escorted through the airport, and brought to a private area where they could relax in private before the plane left. Frank and I left early to head to the gate and wait for the group to department. When we arrived at the gate, an honor guard filled with officers from multiple agencies, standing at rapt attention, were waiting side by side. Frank and I stood back slightly, and as I looked over the gate area, it became clear that it was much quieter than would be expected at an airport. Some people were standing, others sitting and watching, others taking pictures of the guard. I turned to the chaplain next to me and stated “If Jill was here, I would start to cry.” His response “Would she give you a hug?” “Yes, and I would cry harder!” was my response.
I took a deep breath, taking in the moment of quiet and solemn reflection that the entire gate area was clearly feeling. I began to tear up, and took another deep breath, trying to get control of my emotions.
I turned to look back down the jetway, and met eyes with the escorting officer. The family had arrived at the gate. As the honor guard stood, with hands to brow, the family slowly passed through, and boarded the plane. It was an amazing site, and I felt an instant sadness for the reason for the trip. I often remember that our family journey could have been vastly different – instead of standing at attention watching from the sidelines, it could have been our family, walking through the honor guard salute, heading to DC to honor our lost hero.
It is the difference that 60 seconds can make – if Frank’s partner had been 60 seconds later to the accident, we would not have been an escort, we would have been part of the flight. Sixty seconds – the difference between life as we know it today, and an honor guard contingent. Sixty seconds. The time it takes to make my dark hot chocolate at Caribou, when I am not being impatient.
Sixty seconds – how often do we take for granted that short period of time. Stand by irritated, as it ticks by, our foot tapping, waiting for it to hurry up.
It was such a priviledge to be part of the procession today – it will be a day that will not soon be forgotten for either of us. Meeting officers from all over, hearing those words of encouragement for Frank’s recovery, and knowing that some day, God willing, Frank will be back among them, was a blessing.
I pray for those families that are participating in the events of Law Enfrocement Week – God Bless you all, it is an honor to be part of this family.
And thank you Lake City and St. Louis Park, for allowing us to be part of your send off. It was inspiring to shake your hand. Know that our thoughts are with you every day you are out of the great state of Minnesota.