Death of a Policeman
Police have families too
I was married to a police officer. I recall vividly how I stayed awake most nights when he was on Third Watch, praying he would come home safely to me and his four daughters. Whenever people look for scapegoats or targets of their anger, it’s easy to point at the person who gave you a speeding ticket or pulled you over for driving erratically or drunk. But police are not all alike, and the bad ones don’t override the good that millions of officers do every day, 24/7, 365 days of the year. My heart is aching right now for the families, so I need to share something I wrote many years ago in my Walking In A Crowd of Angels book. This was written after two of our police friends were killed. Please think of the families they leave behind when tragedies happen.
Death of A Policeman
Beth Terry (from Walking in a Crowd of Angels)
Her husband died today. She sits in disbelief, numbly working through the words she will say to their 4 year old son. Her hands glide over the arm of the couch where last night her husband sat and caressed her hair. Silently she takes back every angry word ever spoken. She fights to remember just what their last words were. You are supposed to remember your last words. She strains to hear his voice, but only remembers the radio reporting the shooting and the call from his Captain. Something about gang violence and retribution. She bargains with God, “He was just doing his job!” She stares at the ceiling and prays this is just the same bad dream every policeman’s wife has from time to time.
They come in waves. “He was a hero.” “It always happens to the good ones.” “So young…”. The table groans under mounds of food. She can’t eat. He can never eat again, how can she eat? They fumble with awkward silences, foolish advice, “It was probably fast, he probably didn’t feel any pain.” Pain? Is there anything but pain?
Classmates file in. They were recruits together. Slowly the room fills with memories: “When we were at the academy…”, “Do you remember the technical driving drills…”, “He stood up for me…”, “I always knew I could count on him…”, “We said we’d go sailing one day…”. Their aching sadness mixed with guilt; they know it could have been any one of them. They shake their heads and drift out. At home, they hug their children, suddenly grateful for life, for family, for wives and husbands, for another chance.
The business side of death intrudes. “Did he leave a will?” “Where shall we bury him?” “The department will take care of details.” She walks in a daze to their room and finds the uniform she pressed for him this morning. She checks for the love note in his breast pocket and leaves it there. The officer takes away the last uniform her husband will ever wear.
They all leave and she is alone with her sleeping son. She turns every light on in the house, as if to wait for his return from patrol. She sleeps fitfully, then joins her laughing, young husband in her dreams.
And in houses all across town, moonlight streams down on his fellow officers, sobbing in their sleep as grateful wives and husbands silently say a prayer of thanks for one more day.
Prayers for all the families involved in the horror that is unfolding across America. Please be respectful of the police officers you meet today. Please don’t make this about gun control. If all the guns in the world were taken away, these criminals would have found a way. “Making good people helpless won’t make bad guys harmless.” Prof. Shane Krauser, ASU
© 1998-2016 Beth Terry • All Rights Reserved