They Don’t See Him

They Don't See Him

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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31 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this. I am a wife of a cop and we have an 11 month old. He is out hero. He has missed so many first of hers already and I know he’ll miss more. I keep telling her he is out fighting the bad guys and he’s a superhero. They see so much and hear so much and yet they get judged at every corner. They would be there to protect anyone who needed it and yet got mocked and get stones thrown at them. Thank you for writing what you did. I wish everyone could see that there are men and women behind these badges. Fathera, mothers, wives, husbands, sons and daughters…human beings <3

  2. This was extremely beautiful, sincere & heartfelt. Made me think of all those situations, as I too am an officer however a female. But I share those same scenarios and reality with my family.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss. It was heart breaking reading about his death, I can only imagine how you must be feeling. Sending love and prayers your way. Xoxo

  3. A little something which you might appreciate, taken from “The Bulletproof Mind” by Lt. Col. Grossman:

    One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.”

    This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.

    Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million total Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

    Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

    I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

    “Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

    “Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.” Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.”

    If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath–a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

    Let me expand on this old soldier’s excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids’ schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid’s school. Our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.

    The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

    Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.” Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog. As Kipling said in his poem about “Tommy” the British soldier:

    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that,
    an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind,”
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,”
    when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys,
    there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,”
    when there’s trouble in the wind.

    Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

    Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.” When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

    While there is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, he does have one real advantage — only one. He is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

  4. So beautifully and truthfully said! This is our life to a T… My husband is NYPD as well, with a commute which I think makes it just a bit harder on him. But he loves what he does. He provides for his family and we are so very thankful for that.
    Your words are encouraging, inspiring and much needed during such bad times involving law enforcement–I really want to share this with the world!
    Thank you to your husband for his service and to stay safe. Hugs from our family to yours! Beautiful photos, by the way! ❤️❤️❤️

  5. thank you for these words. My boyfriend (soon to be fiancé!) is a CT police officer. It’s always nice to hear the support, love, and prayers that go to our loved ones in blue, especially during such s tumultuous time when there is so much distrust and hate. Keep our loved ones safe! ❤️

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I absolutely love hearing from other police wives (and girlfriends/fiances! Congrats!) because it reminds me what a wonderful family we all are, all over the country, even the world. Love and prayers to you and your LEO!! <3

  6. This too was our lives. My husband is a retired NYPD Sergeant who lived the life you just wrote about. We all lived the life but wouldn’t have changed a day about it. It takes a special kind of person to do this
    job but it also takes a special kind of family to live through it with them. God bless us all, stay safe out there.

    1. That is exactly how we feel! It’s crazy (and sometimes horrible) but in the end, it’s who he is, and who I choose to be along with him. Thanks to you and your husband for all his years of service and all the love and support you offered all that time! <3

  7. My Husband is NYPD as well and I shared this with him today. It was beautifully written and an exact example of our lives as well. Blue Lives Matter.

    1. Thank you so much for that. It means the world to me to hear from other wives and know that I’m not alone in this. Love and prayers to you! <3

  8. This is the truth isn’t it?! My husband comes home after his shift and just tries so hard to stay awake that I can tell it hurts him. As always, prayers with your family! 🙂

    1. Omg so often, and of course, he usually falls right asleep. Then sometimes I kind of plan on him falling asleep… and he doesn’t! Oops. bwahaha Prayers for you and yours also. xoxo

  9. My husband is a 20 year veteran of the NYPD and this post is perfect….He has time on the job so by now he has become very callous to a lot but he always tells me about the guys with little time on the job and how much he feels for them….Soon the NYPD will be behind us but for so many they have a long way to go till retirement and it’s just getting worse and worse out there….Thank you for your great writing!

    1. My husband hasn’t been on nearly that long and even so we are shocked at how much has changed for the worse just in the last 2-3 years! God bless you and your husband for the love and service you’ve put in for so long now! <3

  10. hi Anna,

    I just want to thank you for your amazing posts. With everything going on the last few weeks, it’s nice to know there are other women out there that feel the same as me.

    Stay safe, as always . Xo

    1. Jenn, I feel the same way! Too easy to feel isolated in all this crazy anti-police nonsense! I’m happy to know these posts have been helping you in some way. Stay safe and well. xoxo

  11. Deidre, thank you so much for your lovely comment! It’s people like you who make things a little bit easier on the good cops. 🙂 It goes without saying that not everyone wearing a uniform is automatically a good person. But for the good ones – every word of encouragement means a lot!
    Yes, he’s in the NYPD. Where were you living when you were in NYC?

    1. Honestly, when I read your story. I told my husband, he’s NYPD. Because they are a different breed. I’ve read the stories,I know there is some corruption, but every single encounter, every single moment I saw them in action, I saw incredible honor among the NYPD. I’ve never seen an officer walk by a homeless person without asking if he needs anything. They hold the door open for women, they help old ladies make the crosswalk. They do the gentlemanly things leftover from another generation. I don’t know what it is or where it comes from, but that is one blue uniform I have an immediate respect for and no fear.

      My husband also read this story and said “you gotta ask her if he’s NYPD and when she says yes, give them my thanks and let them know we don’t feel that way and neither does anyone we ever met in NY.

      We lived on the Upper East Side.Sadly we left the city when I was pregnant with my first. We wanted land and since we don’t have millions, we transferred to Utah with my husbands company. But we just can’t handle it here. These people are weird! We are doing our best to transfer back, although we think we will try for New Jersey.

      1. Wow, NYC to Utah – that’s a big change! Little bit of a culture shock, I would think?! 😛 Best of luck to you guys with a transfer/move back east.

        Thank your husband from both of us. We’ve found that the idea of police as good guys or bad guys varies greatly from one area to the next. My husband happens to work in a high-crime area, where there’s a lot more tension and a lot less respect than, for example, the town we live in.

        I’m so happy to hear that all your experiences with NYPD were positive ones! 🙂

  12. I introduce my children to policeman all the time to give them the “if you ever lost or scared” speech. The first time I did, I said “would you like to meet a hero?” To this day, “Mommy, look a hero” is what my oldest exclaims every time she sees one. It honestly scares me a bit, I know there are a great many who are less then human. But I believe that the majority overworked underpaid men in blue do what they do, because they feel the need to be a servant to humanity. Your husband is one of them. Thank him for me.

    I noticed you live in New York and the amount of crime you mention leads me to think you live in a larger area. I mention it because I lived in NYC and wondered if he was a NYC officer.

Comment and share your thoughts!