Each journey begins with a step off of the regular daily path onto a new one. Sometimes these steps are taken voluntarily. A tentative move towards a new direction. Some begin 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. Sometimes it is 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. This is due to the brain injury 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. However, even intense determination cannot match the needs of your old life. It can even 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. 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. 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. This is due to injuries sustained while performing their jobs. 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. It 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. 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. 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. Especially 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. Thankfully, we have been given the gift of people, officers, friends, chaplains and strangers. They 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.