They Forgot

They forgot how many times you answered when they called.

They forgot the lives you saved, and all the wounds you healed.

They forgot how you stood patiently for hours while they marched, and that your own opinions didn’t matter on that day.

They forgot that it was you who held their hands; that your eyes, too, were filled with tears, and that their anguished screams would haunt you.

They forgot that you were there for all the carnage –Β  the blood and mangled bodies that never left your dreams.

They forgot that you ran in when they ran out.

They forgot how often it was you that turned a life around – in those quiet moments, no media around recording – when your words brought hope to a despairing youth and led him down a different path.

They forgot how angry it made the father in you, to see abandoned children all around. Many of them fed and clothed in designer names – but abandoned just the same.

They forgot how you pushed yourself beyond the limit in every possible way.

They forgot how little thanks there was in a job like yours – you were pulled in opposite directions every day – the criminals who hated you, the civilians who needed you, and the politicians who ignored you.

They forgot that it was you they wanted the night their spouse was hurt, a neighbor lost, a child abused, a home attacked.

They called you.

They needed you.

They wanted everything from you, and you gave it.

You gave your time to them instead of loved ones. Your place at the table in your home was often empty. Your sleep was rare, your meals were on the go, and your schedule was never your own. Your heart was broken from the inside out, and you always hid it well. No way to explain at a bbq what your eyes had seen that day.

You buried it deep inside and said that you were fine. You told yourself that it would pass, that you didn’t need to talk. You brushed aside the worry, your mind fought against those thoughts. But your mind and heart and body weren’t meant to live that way – reliving so much horror, reliving so much pain.

The days crept by, the nights were long. You always did your best.

Then one day your gun came out. No criminal in sight –Β  just a tired man, a broken heart, and a pain you couldn’t stop.

Now the bed beside your wife is cold, your seat is always empty, and your children know they need not ask, “When’s Daddy coming home?”

They wanted everything from you, and you gave it.

And then – they forgot.

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