So much time has passed since Frank left for work, duty gear in hand – you forget.
You forget the risks that law enforcement officers take every single day they begin their shift. You forget that when something bad is happening, they run towards the danger, as the rest of us run away.
You forget that somewhere, someone is getting a knock on the door – the knock that no one in the family of law enforcement wants to get.
The past two days have been extremes in emotions for me. Spending Saturday meeting with many fans of the book, and getting to know people that have followed Frank’s recovery, was truly a blessing. The book signing was in Lake City, MN, which holds a special place in my heart. As many of you remember, a local officer was killed there in December right before Frank was injured, and I had yet to pay my respects to him. Tommy and I finished packing the car after the book signing was over, and we decided to spend some time visiting the cemetery.
As we walked toward the gravestones, the breeze picked up a bit. It was a warm August evening, with just enough of a breeze to be perfect. Tommy immediately went up to investigate the headstone and the two benches that sat to either side – one from his children, and one from his wife. In typical Tommy fashion, the question barrage began – How did he die? Why do they have handprints on the grave? Who put the benches there? If we dig down will we see him?
Typical questions from an eight year old who knows how scary life can be sometimes.
I answered each question as they came, grateful for the alone time, and for the honest conversation that those questions provided. The investigation continued, which resulted with a run back to the car to find some coins, and to fetch his water bottle to try to save the purple plant that needed some cooling off.
A quiet peace settled over him, and we both just listened to the crickets for a bit. I placed my hand on top of Officer Schneider’s headstone, and quietly thanked him for his service, and told him that many people think of his family, even those of us that do not talk to them. We are here, to pray for them, and to offer them some peace.
When Tommy drew my attention again, I asked him to think about these children; children that no longer have their Daddy with them. He nodded, and said “We are lucky, Mom.”
“Yes we are Tommy, even if things are different, we were very lucky.”
There was another pause, and Tommy asked “Did Daddy almost die?”
Now it was my turn to pause, and I answered “Yes, but Daddy didn’t die. He is here with us.”
“Yep!” He turned and smiled, picked up his water bottle, and skipped back to the car.
To be eight years old, and to be able to take that answer, and just accept it. Children are amazing. We headed back towards town for another visit with friends before heading home.
That visit was on my mind today while Frank and I drove to a law enforcement training that we had been invited to attend. It was a course entitled Street Survival training for cops, and we were able to both sit in the class and present a brief bit of our story as well. I have attended a lot of trainings in the past 14 months or so – either invited to sit in, or to present our story during a portion of the class. Often times I will sit and listen to the presentations, and I am always amazed at the training these men and women undergo to keep their skills at the highest level to ensure their safety.
Today was no exception. The raw honesty of the course brought feelings to the surface that I had forgotten were living inside of me.
Each and every night these men and women leave for work is a risk. Each shift presents with the possibility that tragedy can occur. Each encounter can end in a knock at the door for some family – changing their lives forever.
You forget, if you are not exposed to that risk each day, what it feels like. You forget that it is always there, just sitting outside of thought, because one cannot dwell on that risk, or it will drive you crazy.
You forget that the words “Be safe. Love you” could be the last words they hear from you.
Today, I remembered. Sitting in a room filled with law enforcement officers, I remembered.
And it was harder than I could have ever imagined.
God Bless all of you on duty tonight. Be safe.