Saturday, April 13, 2013

Life Behind the Thin Blue Line

I'm going to clue you in on something that I rarely, if ever, talk about.  To anyone. 'Cause it's easier that way.

There's a real big elephant that walks around our house every day, and that elephant's name is Fear.  His presence is often palpable. He lurks in the corners most of the daylight hours, preferring night time visits.  He flashes across the TV screen far too frequently and once he straight up rang my doorbell.  Just 2 hours ago he sashayed straight into the kitchen and sat on our chests.

My husband is a police officer.  And tonight, an officer from his department was shot in the stomach 2 hours after Mike left work.  Enter the elephant.

Mike decided to take this path in life while we were in college, and most of us found it somewhat strange as he looked like this at the time:

*now take a minute and enjoy that, and then mentally add on a pair of GIGANTIC HUGE SKATEBOARDER PANTS AND AIRWALKS.  Y'all.  There aren't words.*

But he meant it.  His grandfather, his hero, was NYPD.  Throughout his college years, he interned with the Athens PD and went straight into the academy after graduation.  By that point, we were "maybe dating" after 4 years of friendship and I had to start thinking about if the life of a police wife was for me.

Thankfully, I have an excellent role model.  My sister is also a police wife and mother of 2.  She has a 7 year head start on me, and I have watched and learned from the struggles their family has faced.  She told me often, "You aren't just marrying the man, you are marrying the job."  And it is so very true.  To separate the two is impossible.

Life as a police wife means, among other things:
-Having Christmas morning at 11:00 at night so he can see the kids' faces
-Sitting in restaurants alone, waiting for him to be cleared for a 20 minute meal break
-Sitting in restaurants alone with 2 entrees because his 20 minute meal break was cut short by a call
-Being schooled to sit in said restaurants so that he always is facing the door, even when he's off duty
-Family Fun Day being interrupted as he runs head on into traffic to help victims in a car accident that happened on our way to the park
-Trying to support his 230 lbs while he clings to me, weeping, after seeing the worst sides of mankind
-Having to switch gyms because too many people he's arrested attend ours and he feels that his wife and children are endangered
-Having plans in place for what to do in such endangered situations
-Knowing deep within my soul that if something were to go down, in a movie theater for instance, that my husband would kiss my cheek, tell me to stay down, and run straight at it

 I don't know who created this, but it couldn't be any more accurate!

I spent a lot of our newlywed time staring at the phone while he was on shift, waiting for it to ring with bad news.  I lived in fear of the doorbell, knowing that the day I open it to uniformed officers is they day I am widowed.  But I couldn't stay there.  Just couldn't.  It's exhausting and it's non-productive.  So I have adopted the "pray and press on" mindset... Pray as hard as you can every single day, and then press on knowing that it's out of your hands.  Keep the elephant away at all costs. Or at least try.

But as I said, he sneaks in when you aren't expecting it.  One day, home alone, I heard the doorbell and peeked through the curtains to see who it was.  All I saw was the sleeve of a uniform with an Alpharetta patch on it.  In an instant, I was on the verge of blacking out and barely able to open the door.  It took me 2.7 seconds to process that it was a fellow officer who lives nearby, coming by to drop off something he had borrowed.  But that 2.7 seconds was a reminder that the fear never leaves.  As busy as we stay and as blissfully ignorant as we pretend to be, it lurks. 

Tonight I watched Mike, as the confusion and misinformation about this evening's shooting swirled, knowing that he is every bit as aware as I am that it could have been him.  It would be an outright lie to say that he's not afraid of never coming home. However, he doesn't let the fear follow him to work. To do so would be counterproductive and unsafe.  He gets dressed every morning, putting on his Sheepdog patch and his cross shield necklace, kisses me and the boys while we sleep, and drives away.  The fear stays at home.  The fear stays with me.

Like so many other things in our lives, I can be crippled by it or I can conquer it.  In this case, though, we're stuck in the middle. I know that the worry is never going to go away.  Not ever.  And that it will continue to sneak up on us, leaving us breathless and on our knees. Conquest is just not an option.  I refuse to be crippled by it, so I suppose we are left with coping.

Praying and pressing on.

So tonight, please join me in praying for Mike's brother in blue, who from initial reports is expected to survive.  Join me in thanking God for those who willingly stand between you and the darkness.  Pray for their safety.  Pray for their families.  And yes, pray especially for those who have gone so far off track that their only recourse is violence.

"The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day!"


  1. Oh goodness! I'll be praying. My dad has been a police officer for 30 years. I understand the fear.

  2. Thank you and your husband for your sacrifice for our safety. May that knock on the door never come.

  3. Abby....
    Oh my. On top of continuously worrying about Parker's health, you also have your husband's safety to top that off. I could not even imagine. ;)
    You are a strong woman, Friend. You'll grow with these experiences!! ;-D

  4. Abby,

    I've been reading your blog since Parker was born, but this is the first time I've commented. I'm so glad Parker is doing well and thriving! I'm commenting now because my husband is also a police officer and I know the feeling of fear all to well. People often ask how I don't worry myself to death when he leaves for work, but I tell them I don't think about it too much because I would probably be in the nut house by now if I did! Unfortunately, he's been to far too many funerals for fallen officers and I thank God every time that it's not him. The graphic above about the police wife couldn't be more right on! Thanks for sharing!

  5. To Mike and all police officers, a BIG thank you! To you and all officer's wives, a prayer that your special men stay safe. To God, a loving request to keep ALL of you under His protective wing! And YES, to those who have gone off track, a hope that their lives improve and they can find a better way to live peacefully in this beautiful world!

  6. Praying for that officer! It's a scary world that we live in. God bless you and your family!

  7. Thank you to your husband and your family for your sacrifices. I have a passing knowledge of this kind of fear as my husband is Active Duty Army. We've been fortunate that in 15 years he has only deployed once - we're not sure how that happened, but we count our blessings and don't ask questions - but I remember the days of watching the news and waiting for the phone to ring so I knew he was still safe. Checking my email over and over again. People always tell me they don't know how I do it, but I can tell you that I do. You get up every morning, you put one foot in front of the other and you move forward, because there truly is no other option. Hugs and prayers for your family today and always.

  8. Abby....I have been reading since before Parker was born and praying for your family but don't think I have ever commented. I know that worrying feeling. I am not a police officer's wife....but I am the Mom of an's the same feeling. I hate it but I am so proud of the job my Son does. I worry about him every night when he puts on his uniform and goes out there to do the job he loves. I pray he comes home safe in the morning and I don't get a knock on my door. I know your worry only too well. All we can do is keep on praying for our loved ones and their partners!! God Bless all of them that do so much to protect all of us.
    Redwood City, CA

  9. Beautifully said.. my father has been an officer for 40yrs just retired and we are so thankful and Blessed that he has been safe all those yrs. We have lost many of his brothers along the way so we know the Blessing is Great that he retired and we still have him. Wishing many blessings to your family and your husband for continued safety and guidance from above.
    Denver, Pa