He is finally home after working a 26-hour shift. He’s exhausted and should be in bed, but he’s on the couch across from me instead. “I’m not tired, sweetheart, I want to be with you.” 5 minutes later – he’s snoring mid-sentence.
Today Mikey informed me that “when we all grow up Daddy’s going to be a hero.”
But Daddy already is one.
He works the job that nobody wants – and nobody cares that he does it. He goes in early, comes home late – loses sleep, misses events, sometimes goes days without seeing his own family – and nobody thanks him. He arrests the criminal he caught red-handed, and they call it racial profiling. He arrives too late to save the baby from her parents’ abuse, and they call him a lazy, over-paid pig. He has knelt helplessly by the sides of young men – hardly more than boys – dying in the street, victims of the endless cycle of violence created to keep them captive forever. But no one knows that he was there.
He’s just a shadow to them.
Another uniform, another badge and shield, another officer with a gun.
They don’t know him.
They don’t see the man I see.
They don’t see the tears in his eyes when he tells me they found the missing child – too late. They don’t see his exhaustion of body and soul. They don’t see how betrayed he feels at every turn. They don’t see how much he cares.
They don’t feel his loss when he puts those dress blues on to march again, too soon, to bury another fallen hero. To them it’s a touching story on the news. To him – it is his brother.
They don’t know that sometimes even while he’s laughing… he’s crying inside.
They don’t see him mowing the lawn with his son, and dancing with his daughter. They don’t see him lay his head on my belly and whisper silly nothings to his unborn baby. They don’t see the devilish grin he gives me when we drive away for a date night, or the sweet touch of his hand on mine, that calms me when I’m overwhelmed.
They don’t see that for him, this isn’t just a job, just a paycheck. It’s who he is. He doesn’t take off his uniform and forget what he has seen and done. The uniform has changed him forever.
He’s a shadow to some and a villain to others, but to me… he will always be a hero.
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