I thought it would fade over time, the way my throat closes and a momentary panic washes over me. I thought it would get easier to hear about the most recent loss, that eventually an unexpected knock at the door wouldn’t freeze my heart.
I hoped that somehow I would become one of those people to whom the death of an officer is just another blip in the news.
I thought I would become tougher, maybe even numb to it all.
But I’m not.
Every time you walk out that door, my heart stops beating, just for a moment, and I can’t help fearing that that was the last kiss you’ll ever give me, the last time your arms will hold me tight.
I hear another story of heroism, loss, tragedy – and I wonder – what if that were you? I see the faces of the wives and children left behind, some torn with grief and some numb with a pain that cannot be shared. When the pomp and circumstance of the ceremonies has passed, life will go on for the rest, but not for them. For them, life will never be the same, because a life so loved has been taken from them.
Each time it happens, they say the same things: “hero,” “courage,” “gratitude.” They mean well. But they have no idea. Hero, yes – always. But so much more. Friend, husband, lover, father, son. You are so much more than a faceless man who answers a call.
You walk out the door and drive away – another day, another shift, another round of good against evil, right against wrong, light against darkness, and love against hate.
What will it be for you today? Will it be routine – papers and computers and casual talk?
Will it be a day that turns frantic from one second to the next, with that adrenaline rush, the panic in voices, the chaos of others running out while you all run in?
Will you be tested? The struggle isn’t always a dramatic one. Sometimes it happens in the silence of the night, when a few words make a difference in a life. Will you be shown how many lives you’ve changed – or will you be left forever wondering: was I right, or was I wrong?
Will today be the day of that ultimate sacrifice? Will your eyes close one last time and will you think of me, of your babies, of the home you will never see again?
I feel like calling out to you. “Don’t go! Don’t leave us! Let someone else fight the world today! Let someone else stand up. Let others walk into the unknown and you stay safe by my side today.”
But I can’t let my mind go there. I won’t.
Today you were here and you were loved.
I will watch you walk away, watch the tiny hands of our children wave goodbye. They are always so blissfully sure that you will be home soon.
There will be no time for wondering, and the busyness of life will fill the day. Worry will be pushed to the back of my mind, as I go about my day.
Tonight you will come home. You will fall into bed with a murmured “Night, love,” asleep before your head even hits the pillow. Your snores will make me smile, and the warmth of your body will warm my heart.
For these hours, there will be no fear, no uncertainty. Today, once again, you won the fight and you are here.
Oh my love, come home to me – always.