Hyperbolic Love

 

I’m going to stray from my normal topics of grief and my “new normal” after the death of my husband, and venture onto a topic that has weighed heavily on my mind recently – our generation’s view of hyperbolic love and relationships.

I, like most young girls, grew up listening to fairy tale versions of walking into a forest and back out with your prince charming. The perfect man who just happens to fall right into your life at the exact perfect time, and it didn’t even matter if you lost your glass shoe! He would seek you out, and find you, and then the two of you would “live happily ever after.” The end!  Hmm, “the end.” Those two words seem so insignificant to a young girl. She probably dreads them only because they mean bedtime.  To a young girl, the end means that everything was perfect, and this hyperbolic love carried the young princess and her prince happily through life. 

However, the more I contemplate “the end,” the more problems I begin to see with it.  The end of a fairy tale isn’t even the start of a definition of “true love,” and what a true relationship actually looks like.  The end of a fairy tale allows my generation and those after me to believe in the idea that “everything just works its self out.” That you don’t have to try in a real relationship.  Our kids are being raised with lyrics such as:

“Life makes love look hard.”

Okay, I’m going to go all “rhetorical and AP Language” for a second.  The word “look” here connotes a mirage, as if the action and feeling of “love” really isn’t all that difficult. That “true love lasts forever” on its own.  No work required.  Our future generations seem to think that relationships only require assembly, but never maintenance. “Look” implies the idea that people are fooling you into thinking that love is difficult.  That it requires no effort to sustain.  As if we all just walk around “in love” with someone, and the relationship just “works out.”   

Then, of course, there are the songs that tell us to never settle for anything else than “Crazy” type love in a relationship.  That one’s soul mate should not be able to “sleep or eat without your love.”  That one’s entire existence should be wrapped up into another person’s.  And before you begin to criticize me and tell me that my ideas are too extreme, just hear me out. That your “soul mate will always demonstrate his/her love by committing crazy acts.” Acts such as “declaring one’s love in sappy love letters daily, making you breakfast in bed at least once a week, singing love songs, and constantly posting about how in love they are with you on every social media site known to man.”  As if the amount of love a person feels for another is in direct correlation to the “craziness” of the person’s acts while demonstrating said love.  That the crazier the action the more love the person must have. 

And so, generation “hyperbolic love” enters into relationships with unrealistic expectations and dreams, only to find, the person with whom they are in a relationship with is, wait for it…… “gah, they are human!” They aren’t a prince charming from a cartoon or a person in some random pop song that has a catchy chorus but no real depth or meaning to its lyrics.  That the person with whom they have committed their time, love, and self to actually has real needs, moods, desires, and thoughts. 

Then, our “generation hyperbolic love” has no idea what to do.  So, they Google.  And, what they find is just more love songs, “best case scenarios,” and they begin to think something is wrong with their relationship.  I’ll go on record as saying that girls are probably more prone to this idea than guys; however, I think it happens quite frequently to both genders. 

It seems our society thinks there is something wrong with normalcy and routine in a relationship. That when that stage of comfort is reached, the relationship should be terminated, and another sought after immediately.  I beg to differ.  I too entered marriage with my fairy tale dreams.  My ideas that he would constantly sweep me off my feet, and I don’t think I was alone.  What I eventually realized is that in my routine of normalcy, I was probably closer than ever before to J.  Sure, spontaneous gestures, crazy ideas, sappy love letters etc, are essential to any relationship, but they aren’t the core of it.

The core of a lasting relationship comes with the trust it takes to allow someone to be close enough to us to witness our weird habits, to be a part of our routines.  When you think about it, our routines are very personal.  When truly witnessed they reveal a great deal about us.  To allow someone to co-exist with us daily is a level of commitment. Where are the love songs about being a part of someone’s daily lives?  I’m no song writer, but surely we could incorporate cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, just sitting and talking at dinner, into a love song?  I’m sure it would be a chart topper in no time!  Okay, probably not. 

In reality, most people in my generation seem to view the routine parts of a relationship as negative, demeaning, and boring.  I agree, washing dishes can be pretty boring, but the idea I’m getting at is, the people who are there for you day in and day out are the people who know you best.   They know you at your deepest levels, and are a direct reflection of true love.  I’ll admit, J never looked at me and said “wow, when you wash dishes, I fall in love with you all over again.” However, because we let each other into our routines, we knew each other.  We were able to feel close to one another, even when we couldn’t find the words to describe our feelings. 

Tweeting one’s love, or writing a sappy love letter and then posting a picture of it on Instagram, isn’t knowing someone. It isn’t an example of true love.  While I agree, all relationships need a level of surprise to them, I just think we are creating a great injustice to future generations by demoralizing the idea of normalcy and routine in a relationship. 

I’m by no means saying that you are only truly in love with your husband if you “wash his dishes, clean up after him etc.” Or vice versa for your wife.  Nor am I saying there is anything wrong with demonstrating your love in these manners, instead, I just feel that the idea of “hyperbolic love” is a dangerous one.  One that is at the root of wrecked relationships.

Many of my former students have expressed their shock at the idea that I would want to “quit teaching” in order to honor my husband this year.  In their minds it seems that maybe my “duty” of honoring him was up when he died.  This saddens me to think that they live in a world where relationships aren’t fixed – just ended.  That once a level of comfort is reached, one should find a new more exciting relationship.  Instant gratification.  They often ask me if “I’m going to remarry,” or when “are you going to start dating again?”  At first, these questions shocked me.  I found them too personal to discuss, and often times I found them disrespectful.  And, then, as I always do, I began to question why they felt so comfortable posing these questions. And my mind kept returning to the idea of instant gratification.  That in their world, when a relationship ends, they seek another.  They rarely provide themselves time to reflect, learn, and grow from said relationship.  That in the end, it seemed natural to them that I too would have the same desire for instant gratification.

Well, my dears, instant gratification will never allow you to experience feeling safe in a relationship.  It will never allow you to feel as if you know the other person’s soul.  Those types of feelings come with day to day living, conversations, chores.  These are how you truly get to know a person, and they are, at least in my opinion, one of the definitions of true love.

After the death of J, I’ve realized that there are innumerable ways of defining true love.  That in the end the two people in the relationship define it; however, my fear is, with our fairy tale ideals of love, people never really allow themselves to get to this point of definition in a relationship.  When we become bored, we throw away the person, detach  our feelings, and immediately move on.  We never stop to learn anything, and therefore, we make the same mistakes over and over again.  And in the end, we allow Disney, Taylor Swift, and so many others to shape our definitions of love.  In doing so, we are missing out on so many amazing experiences – if only we would just let the other person in. Instead, we build more and more walls until we don’t even know our own selves. 

And while I don’t need people to validate my decision to take the year to honor J and his sacrifice, I do feel that in doing so, it’s just another way to speak out about my beliefs.  That while, maybe I’m not teaching in the classroom this year, instead, maybe I get to teach life lessons instead.  My salary will be no where near the level of Taylor or Disney; however, the rewards are much sweeter.  In the end, even if my actions don’t help anyone else, I know what I’m doing is what is right by me. I know its a direct reflection of my definition of true love. 

*I’m sure many of you disagree with my opinions here, and they are just that- opinions.  You are each entitled to your own.*

A Lesson In Star Gazing

stars shinning

The stars are dancin’ on the water here tonight.

It’s good for the soul when there’s not a soul in sight.

I’ve always found stars as a symbol of peace for me.  I’m by no means a “live in the country 20 minutes from the nearest Target type girl,” but I am definitely a star gazer.  Even if that means I drive 20 minutes down an old country road to find a place to just sit and gaze. Besides writing, it’s my favorite form of therapy.  Stars seem to personify peace- their ambiance, grace, and luster are mesmerizing to me.   

 Stars were the earliest means of navigation; they have been helping people find their way for basically the entire existence of humanity.  I’m not seeking locational guidance from my star gazing excursions, my guidance is more metaphorical in nature.  However, the stars aren’t really what are important here, my thoughts, reflections, brutal honesty with myself, and my lessons learned are far more vital to finding who I am.  The stars are just my inspiration, my starting point, my place of solitude and comfort.  They are my navigational guidance on an every changing journey to find myself.

Often times people say star gazing makes them feel so small and insignificant.  I disagree.  For me, it is where I feel closest to God and myself.  They are my reminder that I am part of a much larger picture, but that each action and thought of mine are vital to the larger picture of humanity.

Before meeting J, becoming an officer’s wife, or having C, I found myself frequently star gazing.  At the height of finding myself, for the first of MANY times in my life, I relied upon those stars.  Then, as my roles and responsibilities began to increase, it’s only logical that other aspects of my life had to take a backseat.  For me, that was my star gazing.  Between a baby, being a wife, and being a teacher, I simply didn’t make slowing down and reflecting a part of my daily or even weekly existence.  It seemed to work for me.  I didn’t notice a problem, but I did notice I was always incredibly busy. 

What I’m about to share is brutally honest, and straight from my heart. I’m sharing because I feel like the struggles I’m going to describe tonight aren’t simply because I’m a grieving widow.  In fact, what I’ve noticed in all this process is so much of what I feel isn’t just because I’m grieving.  What I feel is compounded by grief, but when examined, often what I feel all of you can relate to.

After having C, J and I hit a rough spot in our marriage. We were growing a part, around the same time he was beginning to doubt his calling as an officer. I don’t mind sharing because in all honesty, everyone has rough spots. Places where they feel more distant than normal from their spouses.  The difference between us and some other situations, is that we noticed it. I began to evaluate what was missing in my life.  Why did I always feel so rushed, and never felt like I could accomplish all that was set before me that day?  I always planned, and re-planned, and re-evaluated, and problem-solved.  I never slowed down.  I didn’t come up for air; I just kept sinking. I struggled with the responsibilities that were asked of me, and yes, I’m fully aware I willingly accepted them.  However, I accepted them intellectually.  Meaning, in theory I knew the expectations of each responsibility, but emotionally, I hadn’t considered how all of these would make me feel.  I began to doubt my calling as an officer’s wife, and at the same time J was doubting his calling as well. The lack of oxygen from refusing to surface for air was my own fault. It wasn’t forced upon me. I just kept adding more and more to my plate because I felt I had to achieve a “model mom and wife status.” Yet, the problem was, I had no idea what that looked like. On one particularly difficult night when J was working YET another 12 hours- out solving the world’s problems.  I realized that the constant lack of oxygen was affecting my brain.  My thought process was always on the days ahead and never seemed to be on the present. That night, baby C and I took a long car ride.  And, so my star gazing began again.   He slept and I gazed, reflected, and prayed.  And, I’m by no means saying the stars are what saved us.  However, in those moments, I began to accept my roles that I had fought for so long. I began to redefine myself, and to be more willing to openly accept new responsibilities.  But most of all, I just talked to God.  And together, we worked it out.  That night, I found the strength that you all say I possess. It was there all along.  My beautiful momma, and so many other people in my lives had given me that gift.  But that night, while a peaceful baby slept in a carseat, I realized, there is no “model mom and wife status.” There’s just doing what’s best for all of us.  That night was the night I fully accepted J’s request to move departments. That night, I made the decision to not rush things, and to just try to accept them and deal with what comes.   

When we moved to our new department last year, we lived literally in the middle of a pasture.  I believe I mentioned, I’m not a country girl, but I truly enjoyed being able to walk outside and feel that connection once more.  The stars seemed to be a constant reminder to me of my talks with God that night in the middle of some country road in Arkansas.  Slowly, while living in this pasture, I began to realize that planning and preparing are essential parts of life; however, they are not my entire life.  I began to shed the ideas that I had to plan all of C’s future, and protect him from everything, and I just started to enjoy the present more.  J and I have never been closer than when we moved here. 

To say that I’m beyond thankful for my night star gazing, is an understatement.  It’s what let me to accept our move, our new start, and our new lives together. And yes, that move, ultimately ended in his death, but each of these steps along the way were slowly preparing me for my new role in life.  If J were killed in the line of duty before my famous star gazing episode, I couldn’t have handled it.  I wouldn’t have known what to do because my plans would have been thrown out the window.  I wouldn’t have known how to just stop, reflect, re-evaluate, and deal with the problems in the present. 

In the first month after J’s death, I reverted back to my pre-star gazing ways.  I allowed panic to overtake me and the fear of not having my entire life planned out with 15 different alternative plans, just in case, was too much for me.  I pretended I was fine.  But what really got to me was not knowing what to do with C.  I didn’t know how to parent him alone.  I begin to start trying to plan for our futures.  I made rash decisions, and I called myself “evaluating them and weighing out the pros and cons,” when in reality, I was just making them because I felt safe making decisions. I felt that I at least was moving forward in my life, even if I was an emotional train wreck on the inside.  People kept reminding me, just slow down, worry about the here and now.  Don’t make rash decisions.  Just focus on what you feel now.  And, while I never told any of you this at that time, these comments REALLY angered me. I thought “obviously you people don’t get me. You don’t understand me at my core. Planning is what I do, so LET ME PLAN!”  And, so I tried, despite all of your best efforts, warnings, prayers, and tears.  I tried to plan.  I felt like I had to control something in my life.  Too often it felt that the person who hit J, still controlled my life, and I just couldn’t handle that. So, I was going to take control, EVEN if I had NO idea where I was going. At least I was in control.  Thankfully, I never made decisions that couldn’t be reversed during this time. I told myself I was consulting God, but really- I was just telling Him MY plans. I was using Him as a springboard for MY plans. 

During this time, I distanced myself from a lot of people.  And, I still feel distant. I’m not sure that will change anytime soon.  But, even despite knowingly distancing people, I just kept planning. 

And then, one day recently, I found myself going through a box of cards and photos.  I found some cards I sent J during his training at the Police Academy.  One of them had stars all over the front cover, and I broke down in tears.  I had always told J of my love for stars, and how I found peace in them.  In fact, after we moved here, J, C, and I were outside one night, and we each named stars.  In the card, I told J that even though I was apart from him, the stars always reminded me of him.

At that point, you guessed it, I bawled.  Thankfully, this was late at night, and C was already asleep. I know those of you who are close to me are wondering when this happened, because I haven’t told you about it.  Really, it’s in the past couple of days that I have realized the significance.  After J’s death, I was so incredibly busy.  Some self-imposed, and others were just duties an officer’s wife needs to perform. I never stopped to begin to peel back the layers of my grief.  I rushed, and sped, and decided, but I never just stopped. 

In the past couple of nights, I’ve done my best, given that I live in a city, to star gaze.  I’ve come to realize that there is no hurrying up this process. There is no “getting better soon.”  And, I know so many of you told me this at the start, but frankly people, you all know I’m stubborn!  I’m slowly starting to actually believe that it’s okay not to have an owner’s manual for how to raise C, I didn’t have one before, and I don’t need one now. 

What I need is to find that belief in myself again. To believe that everything happens in its own time.  To stop rushing things.  To stop making people fit into puzzle pieces in my life when they clearly don’t.  To accept the here and the now. To allow people to leave my life if they want, and to embrace those who want to stay. And to know that just because the time isn’t right in this very moment, it doesn’t mean it won’t be in a few months or a year.  Acceptance of where I am now, isn’t a sign of weakness.  It’s not a sign of defeat.  It doesn’t mean that I am once again a victim.  Just because we are cruising along at a snail’s pace on the road to recovery, doesn’t mean that I’m doing anything wrong.  If therapy has taught me nothing else recently, it is that there are too many layers to what I’m feeling to peel them all back at once.  Understanding and acceptance of one, leads to another sub-layer being peeled back.  I’ve also learned, I won’t ever reach the core.  It won’t ever stop.  C growing up, my life changing, both of these will cause new layers to appear, and when they do, you just deal with them. 

Just because I’m grieving, doesn’t mean the same exact ideas don’t apply to your life.  The rushing, the using prayer as a springboard for YOUR own ideas and agenda are far too common in our lives.  My therapist doesn’t understand why I want to make my grieving process so transparent for all of you.  She says that grieving is a private process. To some degree, I agree.  There are things I would never share on here, but I also feel that I need validity, constantly, that what I’m feeling is normal and human.  And, even the strongest of us need that. 

Giving back is one way I heal.  It’s a part of me I feel wasn’t robbed from me when he hit my husband that night.  We all need reflection in order to grow.  I’m living proof of that.  We all need to slow down.  And, I’m sure you all agree with me; however, implementing it, is a whole different story.  I understand.  

As I sit outside tonight, and don’t gripe at me for doing so, I’m reminded of how close J is to me tonight.  How he would be proud of how we are handling it, but I must say, if it weren’t for all of the trials he and I went through and all of the joys we experienced together, I wouldn’t be prepared for this journey today. 

I believe in star gazing.  In the methods humanity has used from its conception by our glorious and all-knowing maker.  I believe that while I am in no way ready to accept all of the roles and responsibilities my new future holds, I am more prepared than ever before.  Star gazing makes me appreciative when I feel ungrateful, close when I’m feeling distant.  In a way, it’s how J wraps his arms around me, and reminds me I can do this.  It’s my direct connection with my maker, and it’s my reminder to just slow down.   

Everybody’s got their share of battle scars.

As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars that I’m alive and well..

It’d be easy to add up all the pain

And all the dreams you sat and watched go down the drain

Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain

But not me…I’m alive.

Today’s the first day of the rest of my life, and I’m alive. 

I Fight What You Fear- A Lesson On How the Ultimate Sacrifice of an Officer and His Family Can Teach You To Fear Less

I’ve struggled for days on how to express how I’ve felt about the sacrifice J made that night. I’ve felt compelled to attempt to explain to people our lives as officer’s families- not with the idea that you can empathize with us, but so that maybe in some way you can appreciate the sacrifice a little more. So many of you want to honor J and remember him, and I hope this post helps. I also hope that it serves as inspiration to become your best person.

Tonight as I sit in what I like to call my inspiration chair, my eye keeps being drawn towards the shadow box I had made of J’s badge, name tag, SWAT patch, chief’s coin etc from his former department. Everyone looks at the shadow box and remarks on how beautiful it is. And, I must say I agree. They did an outstanding job at capturing the professionalism and honor of being an officer. But tonight one portion of it keeps capturing my eye. The picture J had taken when he graduated the police academy. Beside it, there is a poem. The title of which says “I Fight What You Fear.” I chose this particular poem and portrait to put in the shadow box because above all others it was always J’s favorite. Tonight, I doubt I write much about the grieving process because honestly, not much has changed in my life, but instead, I feel compelled to write about the idea of him fighting what we all fear and how has served as inspiration in my life and hopefully will in yours as well.

J and I rarely had conversations about his fears. Not because he didn’t have them, he did. But because, he simply didn’t allow them to consume his life on a regular basis. I always admired that trait. It was something I aspired to emulate; however, I never seemed to firmly grasp how.

As an officer’s wife, I had my FAIR share of worries and fear. And, then of course I also worried about C’s future, his past, his present, his bumps, his bruises, his learning, and the list could go on and on and on. My list of fears – wow, I couldn’t even begin to list them. But at the root of them was my fear of failure. Failure as a mom, a wife, a teacher, a person- you get the picture. I admired how free J was from fear, and I often attributed that to his job. Sometimes it almost angered me how he seemed to disregard his own safety in order to save or help someone else -especially a brother. I’ll admit it, yes, sometimes that angered me about him. (I now realize how petty that was, and how proud I should have been of him for possessing that trait. We’re all human…) I wanted him to be safer- to color more inside the lines. And then, other times, the same exact traits that I disliked, I loved about him. I loved that he valued “keeping the good,” even if that meant a sacrifice on his part. Ultimately, I realized this trait was something few could emulate. J faced his fears on a nightly basis. And I grew to love this about him, even if that meant that he put his life on the line nightly. I grew to be able to know that by fighting what you fear, he was being the person he was destined to be. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t worry about him, and that I was at first okay with death. Or, really, even that I am now. I’m not okay with it. I didn’t want it to happen, but he died fighting what you fear- which meant, he in turn was happy. What better way to go than by honoring his destiny and therefore his maker?

To be an officer, an effective one at least, one has to be willing to sacrifice his life for the greater good. To not just possess that trait but willingly exercise it hourly on the job. I know I don’t possess what it takes to do what they do. I worry too much. They take action, and worry later.

I find it sometimes comical that God would have me marry an officer. I’m a worrier, far less now than I have ever been before, but worrying is what I do. For God to have me marry into a profession that is the epitome of worrying, is pretty comical to me. J took to heart fighting what I and so many others fear – the unknown and the uncontrollable. These two are probably at the root of all my fears and are ways I feel I might fail; yet, J faced them nightly with strength, assurance, and determination. I admired his ability to take control of a situation, solve a problem, secure weapons, convince people to comply, be the bigger person, and above all do what was right- even when the entire time he was continuously facing the unknown and sometimes the uncontrollable. He was my polar opposite- and because of that, my perfect match.

I never asked J why he liked this poem so much, but in reflection, I can tell you why. Few people can fight what the world fears. Few people can take the weight of the world’s fears on their shoulders, and not only bear them, but also eradicate them – if only for a short time. Few people have the opportunity to eradicate the fears of others. Numerous people talk of it and even boast about it; however, few people have the strength and courage to do so. My husband was born to be an officer. He was born into this brotherhood before he was even old enough to join. God formed him and so many of his brothers with the distinct ability to do what few others can. And generally, the world repays them by ostracizing them. And, yes I know those of you are reading this blog are not in that category, please don’t think I am saying that. But not only does an officer fight what you fear, he also sacrifices so much in order to do so. And he does this day in and day out in order to fight what YOU fear.

In fighting what YOU fear, he is placed in a situation nightly to face HIS own fear. I never discussed with J what his most haunting fear was, but I can tell you with absolute certainty, that I am now living his most deeply rooted fear. In fighting what everyone else feared, he faced his own fear of giving the ultimate sacrifice and leaving behind his wife to raise a kid and face the world alone. And when his fear came true, it further solidified that fear in his brothers and their families. Today, I stand as living proof to so many officers and their families that their fear is an all too rational fear. However, unlike so many others who run from their fears, we still find it in ourselves to put that fear in the back of our minds, and continue fighting what everyone else fears.

J has always been a sense of safety to me. He was so brave and free spirited, and I quite the opposite – safe, and square. That’s not being negative, just truthful. When he gave the ultimate sacrifice to fight what you fear, he left his wife without one of her main sources of safety. That my friends, is what he feared the most. And every officer you see in your daily lives fears the exact same thing. Yet, they still continue on.

Often times our fears are irrational or unrealistic; however, J’s wasn’t. So many times the fears he and his brothers fight for you are unrealistic, petty, and irrational; however, they still fight them. In reflection, I look at all of the fears I’ve had in the past, and at the time they seemed so vital, so real, and so pressing; however, I find it a little odd that in losing my sense of safety, I have gained an indescribable amount of certainty in my decisions. Although I still seek validation, it is with certainty that I face the unknown in my life. While J’s ultimate fear has come true, through it, I seemed to have lost some of my sense of worry.

I’ve come to realize, since writing this post, that in all honesty, everyday he fought what you feared, was preparing me to fight what I feared might happen all along. Each close call, each happy ending, each “disturbance with unknown weapons,”- each of them prepared me in some way for facing my fears today. I have absolutely no idea the direction in which I’m headed, but more and more I seem to be at peace with that.

My fear for so long consumed me, it caused worry, to second guess my own decisions, to fret about things I had no control over, and yet, since J gave the ultimate sacrifice, I seem to be making life changing decisions with very little fear (only validation from those close.) His ability to fight what you fear, is something few people outside the law enforcement family truly understand, and that isn’t a jab. It’s a reality. If you understood it, more could follow this career path. However, this is what makes them and their families stand out even more so. Our willingness to sacrifice is a calling.

Since J’s death, I have found I am slightly more able to embrace change, to go confidently in the direction of a dream, and to worry less about the approval of others. I pray that those close to me can find that same peace. That through J’s death, they realize how important it is to fight what you fear. J’s brothers do it nightly. Their wives the same. We push it aside and to the back of our minds, but each night, we sacrifice so that you can go on living with a sense of safety. The question is, do you want to go on living within the prison of your fears? Or do you want to break free? Each night I watched my husband break free from my hug, tell me he’d “always come home to me,” and go face a fear that could easily become a reality. Yet, he did it willingly. I sit now and watch so many who are close to me live within the walls of their own fears. Walls that keep building higher and higher with each “it’s too late,” “I’m not strong enough,” “what if it isn’t the right decision.” And, in essence, they aren’t living – just existing.

The poem meant the most to J, because the title of it was as close as I could ever come to verbalizing who he and his brothers are as people. As I pick up the pieces of my life and start to rebuild, I can’t think of a more fitting way to honor him and his sacrifice than to fight on a daily basis what I fear. I’m by no means saying fear still doesn’t exist in my life, but I’m choosing to fight it. To keep going and to become a happier, better, and stronger person because of it.

As I close, I sincerely hope that no one took offense to what I’m attempting to say; especially the idea that unless you are apart of the law enforcement family, there are just some aspects you will never understand. Understanding, even in a small way, our lives, helps you understand the sacrifices. However, we all make sacrifices in humanity. So in general, the idea that understanding others and their sacrifices brings us closer together in humanity, is a real truth. An essential part of human growth.

I pray that J’s ability to risk the possibility of his own fear coming true nightly, might serve as some insight into the level of sacrifice he gave that night. And in doing so, I hope that it also serves as inspiration for you to fight what you fear as well. Fear is a personal subject; however, it is an aspect of our humanity we can never fully escape. The question is do you want it to consume you or, do you want it to drive you to overcome it and become a better person?

The Rose Colored Glasses of Perception- A Reflection of the Past 2 months

First, I would like to apologize for not updating as frequently as I would like.  The past week has been filled with tasks, a probable cause trial, as well as my computer refusing to connect to the internet.  Obviously, the last problem is fixed!

Today marks 2 months since J gave the ultimate sacrifice.  I’ve had a lot of time to reflect today, since thankfully it was far less busy than normal.  It has really been in the past week, that I have began to realize how my life is slowly returning to normal.  I was confused as to how I felt about this for a few days because for a little while I felt that I wasn’t “honoring” my fallen officer.  Then, like always I realized, through reflection, how insane that feeling was.  I’ve been working with Little Man on recognizing how he feels and whether or not it is a valid and productive emotion.  So many people keep telling me “anything you feel is normal.” While that statement may be true, we are working on whether or not it is a productive emotion.  Yes, I agree, sometimes a person just needs to cry whether anything productive comes of it or not; however, feeling all of these emotions is physically draining.  I just feel I would rather be feeling and processing emotions that are actually productive in the healing process.

For instance, let me explain the theory behind this.  A few weeks ago, the surround sound system wasn’t working.  C told me, “well if Daddy didn’t go walk out in front of that car, then the surround system would be working.” First, we went over how daddy didn’t walk out in front of a car, and then we worked on thinking through this feeling.  I knew the thought made sense to him. Daddy was the person who fixed electronics around our house; therefore, if he were still alive, the surround system would already be fixed.  It makes sense in the mind of a 5 year old, and honestly, I’ll admit, there have been numerous times in the past 2 months where I’ve felt the same way; however, it is faulty reasoning.  It spins wheels, and it gets us no where. And because of that it causes us to waste energy on something that will never bear fruit, and will never allow us to establish a new normal. Those kinds of thoughts pull us back into the black hole and attempt to hold us hostage.  They force us into being held captive by our own perception of our reality.  In an attempt to free myself for longer periods of time,  the purpose of this post is to reflect on how far we have come in 2 months, and to remind myself of how many positives have come out of my husband’s sacrifice. 

There is no possible way to describe to you all of the lessons I’ve learned, all of the strength I’ve developed, and of the mistakes I’ve made in the past 2 months; however, I told a friend today, I feel that I’m starting to like the person I’m becoming.  Little by little every day.  So in an effort to remind myself how far we’ve come, I’ll touch on the highlights of our journey thus far. Plus understand that by “highlights,” I mean the events and thoughts that caused the most growth and reflection in either C or me. As I began to write this post, I had no general direction in mind, but the one word that just keeps popping into my mind is- perception.

Perception is the puppet master of our reality.  Reality is subjective.  Our view of reality is changed based upon our perception, and often times people live their entire lives truly believing they are viewing reality; however, they aren’t.  It takes a lot of effort and work to be able to separate the emotions, morals, and past pain that clouds our view of reality.  In order to truly reflect, one has to push past perception, and look at reality.  And, let me just tell you, that is a difficult thing to do.

2 months ago, I thought I was living in reality.  2 months ago, when I answered my door at 12:40 am, and we rushed to the hospital, I thought I was living in reality.  How much more real can it be to know that your husband was hit by a car, and it’s highly probable he won’t make it?  From the moment I answered the door, I put on my “in control, graceful, reserved face,” and I faced what I thought was “reality.” However, looking back now I wasn’t really actually facing reality.  I just pretended to accept it.  It wasn’t until 1 am of the following day, that I got my first dose in truly facing reality.  Thankfully, it was at the hands of an amazing friend.  I kept thinking “he’ll be okay.  He’s strong.  We’ll make it through this.” And really, there is a time to be optimistic.  Optimism is an important component in the healing process.  I’ve always been an advocate for remaining optimistic. It bothered me when people weren’t.  However, that morning, reality hit me, and I was forced to become a realist.  I’ve never had a problem with people who are realist; however, I really just liked my world of rainbows, sunshine, and glitter.  I liked pretending to face reality.  It’s a defense mechanism. It kept me sane, and it allowed me to do my job well; however, at this point in my life, it was clouding my ability to do what was right by my husband.

As an officer’s wife, we had discussed final preparations long before he answered his last call. And during those discussions, I listened, I agreed, but I never really believed that I would ever be putting this “theories” into action.  My optimistic side would always win, and I would agree with J simply in order to finally get to change the subject.  Yes, in the depths of my mind, I knew that being killed in the line of duty was a chance he took daily; however, in order to survive and perform daily tasks, I had to be optimistic. And there was nothing wrong with that at the time.  It allowed me to get what I needed done.

  Optimism definitely has its place in a  person’s life; however, on the night of June 14th and the early morning hours of June 15, my optimism wasn’t allowing me to put aside my own selfish desire to keep him here.  Because J loved me and understood the gravity of his job, he ensured I knew what he wanted.  Unless you’re an officer’s wife, it would be difficult to explain to you how these conversations were out of an unfailing and unchanging love for me and C.  Therefore, when my optimistic rose colored glasses were literally yanked from my face and shattered in front of me, I didn’t know what to do for a moment.  I wasn’t sure where to go from there, reality was staring me in the face and was expecting me to make decisions that I knew the answer to but didn’t want to make.  Thankfully, that night, I wasn’t alone.  And, I haven’t been since that night.  That night, in a small waiting room with one of J’s best friends who quickly has become one of my closest friends, I didn’t face reality alone.  Optimism was a comfort zone for me- my safety net.  It caused my perception of the situation to be my “reality.” In the end, the decisions had to be made – so I made them. I faced reality.  A reality that meant, J was never coming home with us.  A reality that meant I just became a single parent.  A reality that meant a wonderful mother had to say goodbye to her first born, that his sisters and brothers would have to continue life without their oldest brother. A reality that meant one more hero joined the black background of the thin blue line.  A reality that meant the love of my life, my rock, and my best friend, was joining his maker.  However, because I faced reality, I got one more chance to demonstrate my unfailing and unconditional love for my husband.  Because someone helped me face reality, I got to honor my husband by honoring his final wishes.  What more could I give him at this point?  He knew how much I loved him, but the decisions I made that night and throughout the days that followed, allowed me and so many others to demonstrate our love and level of respect for the ultimate sacrifice he made that night.  And because of my ability to face reality, I still to this day look back on the events that happened right before his death, and I distinctly remember a feeling  of peace. Yes, even though he was dying, I felt at peace. I knew it was right, and I knew that I was demonstrating my love for him by allowing him to leave us. My acceptance of reality that night allowed me to let him go in a way he wanted to go.

One would think that maybe my battle with accepting reality ended there.  There you go being optimistic too! 🙂  It took me probably a good 1 and half months to accept that my husband was really gone and what that meant for C and me. I had accepted the reality that he was dead, but I hadn’t accepted what that meant for roles in this new reality. I still felt at peace about the decisions I had made, and I still do to this day.  In that time period, I created a perception in other people’s mind.  I convinced them I was okay.  However, in reality, I was far from it.  I drifted aimlessly, lost track of time, felt numb, and I know all of those are normal reactions; however, I hated experiencing them.  So instead of facing the reality of my new roles, I just created a perception, a false pretense of them.  I convinced myself I would be okay – eventually, just keep surviving.  My optimistic self, thought I could get over this on my own, and that I could just make everyone believe I was fine.  This self-created perception worked quite nicely for me until the pre-trials and legal proceedings began to happen. 

And, then ONCE again, reality seemed to slap me in the face.  I’ve written quite frequently on my desire to see the good in all, another form of optimism.  These past few pre-trials have shattered my perception of humanity.  The easiest way to describe this would be to say that my understanding of the “us vs them” mentality became crystal clear through the past 2 pre-trials.  After Tuesday’s probable cause hearing, I wanted nothing more than to be able to put my perception glasses back on, and create a “reality” in which I wanted to live; however, this is no longer an option. I thought I had a firm grasp on what it meant to be an officer’s wife, up until I entered those pre-trials.  And now even after my officer’s death, I’m still learning lessons about what it takes to be an officer’s wife.  While I still see the good in a tremendous amount of people, my eyes have been opened to the reality my husband faced daily.  I could be upset or scared by this, but I feel like it’s just knowledge I’m armed with.  It makes me more observant and sometimes even more charismatic of people. I fought seeing the bad in the world, but I had to accept that as reality in order to continue to move forward. I’ve been forever changed because of the events of the past 2 months.

I’m by no means saying that being optimistic is always harmful or that people who are optimistic are hurting themselves.  I agree there is a place for optimism in our lives.  Often times it is a necessity given the circumstances; however, I feel that it is much easier sometimes to just allow ourselves to continue to perceive the world the way we want to.  Perception is our justification for why things happen.  Why a loved one said something that hurt us or why we fall back into our old habits; however, often times perception keeps us from growing as a person.  It clouds our judgment and holds us back.  Perception is often times made up of past hurt, lessons, fears, and ideas that overpower our ability to see a situation in its truest colors. It allows us to make up excuses for other’s behaviors.  I’m not saying that past lessons shouldn’t be taken into consideration when making decisions about one’s future.  Obviously they should, I just think that we get caught up in how we perceive something, that we forget to realize the fact that God and his plan are our reality.   Sometimes as humans, in our journey of faith, we need a reality check.  We need a person or event that causes our “worldly perception” glasses to shatter.  To allow us to stop making up excuses for why people hurt us, or why we have to “grow up” and make difficult decisions.  It’s easier to revert back to what we know, our comfort zone, than to venture out into that scary world of reality.  It’s easier to sacrifice our own happiness than to actually accept the reality of our own happiness.  So, in short, we don’t grow as much as we could, and we don’t make as much of a difference as we could.

What I’ve learned over the past 2 months is that in the end, sometimes life gives one hundred reasons  to cry.  Acceptance of reality is what allows us to look at those 100 reasons to cry, and then turn around and find 1,000 more to smile. 

I know this post seems black and write. It’s not.  There is no back and white in my life right now.  My reality is gray.  A reality that is often times difficult to accept; however, it far more bright because of my ability to understand that I have no other choice.  This is my destiny.  And even though J gave the ultimate sacrifice, I’m still an officer’s wife and a mother to an amazingly smart 5 year old who just started Kindergarten today.  My battle to accept reality isn’t over.  I still battle it daily and often times hourly.  To force myself to live in reality, and to incorporate optimism is difficult.  Finding a balance often times seems impossible. However, because I am accepting the idea that God gave me this reality, has allowed me to realize that He expects me to do something with this reality.  The acceptance that J is gone, allows me to begin to honor him in ways I felt were impossible a few months ago.  It gives me the courage to pursue my dreams, while also honoring my husband.  And, it’s what also allowed me to listen to my “baby” tell me he hated pre-k, and to accept that he was ready to move to kindergarten, even if I didn’t think I was ready for him to. 

In the end, being the pink behind the thin blue line of my fallen husband is my reality.  It’s the means by which I want to define myself right now, and maybe even for quite some time.  Accepting my reality has freed me.  And, it’s allowing me to slowly like who I am becoming.  Accepting reality allowed me to hit rock bottom, but then to slowly begin to climb back up.  This climb, this journey are going to make me and my Little Man into the people we are destined to be. 

One Day Can Change Everything

J and I start planning Little Man’s birthday party a few months in advance.  This means that before he died, we had already begun to plan.  We do this for many reasons.  The most important being, we always try to plan the actual party on the weekend that he had off. Sometimes this means it was before C’s birthday, and sometimes it means it was after.  Just part of working an officer’s schedule.  We also wanted C’s birthdays to be special.  He’s an amazing kid and deserves a day when he is reminded of that.  Then, J would usually end up taking C’s actual birthday off and we would celebrate it as a family. Therefore, to say that celebrating C’s birthday was difficult, is an understatement.  

It seems as if this summer has been full of “difficult days.” Our anniversary, C’s birthday, C starting school.  A summer full of what should have been happy celebratory events, and instead, just constant reminders that one day can change everything. Please don’t get me wrong, I am celebrating these events, it’s just with a bittersweet constant paradoxical attitude.

 This entire past week has been difficult. From the family birthday party last weekend, to the memorial golf tournament/birthday party yesterday, to C’s actual birthday today.  Not to mention the pre-trial being mixed into all of this as well.  I never know how to plan for these days.  I don’t know what to do to get myself ready, and then I remind myself for what seems like the millionth time in 2 months that there is no getting ready.  Immerse myself in whatever feelings I’m having at that time, and then try to deal with them and move on. That’s difficult especially today.  C’s actual birthday.  It’s difficult because he deserves a special day despite all that has happened in the past two months.  This is his day, and he deserves a chance to be happy, and his mommy’s sadness shouldn’t affect that.  He was my source of strength today; however, I found that it was still beyond difficult to be happy today.  And then, well, I feel like a bad mommy because what kind of mom is actually sad on her child’s birthday?  Again, a reminder that one day, one choice, one instant, changed our world forever.

Now, to begin what most of you are accustomed to by now in my blog:  refection.  I’ll warn you, this one will probably be as emotionally raw and real as the last.  If you are expecting happiness at the end of this, I can’t promise you that.  I just promise to be honest.

Today, when I should have been ecstatic because my “baby” turned 5, I found myself wondering about and being afraid for his future.  I felt anxious and fearful all day.  I was short tempered, and patience, well you might as well have forgotten about that virtue. I tried as much as possible to be happy and to actually celebrate his birthday, but I found myself feeling empty inside. 

Often times I found myself wondering what this day would have been like with J by my side.  Sure, C wouldn’t have had such an extravagant birthday party yesterday, but his day would have been filled with love by his TWO parents.  And today, instead of getting to feel his daddy’s hug and hear his voice say “Happy Birthday”, today, he got his mommy trying her hardest to tell him how excited his daddy was to watch him from heaven.  And, it simply isn’t fair.  He deserves better.  Again, one day…

We went through the whole day with me repressing my feelings, and pushing them off because I wanted him to be happy on his birthday.  And let’s just say, today was not as happy as we would have wanted it to be around our house.  It’s hard to repress the knowledge that you are his sole parent. That he won’t have his daddy to give him advice, and that it’s now my job to pass on what I THINK his daddy would have said to him.  And all of this responsibility falls on me because of one day and one choice. 

I struggle even  to know what the “guy answer” to the problem is. And, he’s only 5.  I want so badly to go back to the days when I got to be the nurturer and J got to be the advice giver.  He knew how to make C into a man. And yes, for those of you who aren’t parents, those lessons start even before a boy turns 5.  Being a man is a way of life, and it’s a choice, often times a series of choices on a daily basis.  And, yes, I know that a mother plays a tremendous role in turning her little boy into a man, but he learns best from his daddy.  And so today on C’s 5th birthday, I found myself wondering just exactly how I was going to do that.  And I wasted a tremendous amount of his birthday caught up in this idea.  Still, even now, I feel horrible.  All the worrying was fruitless.  Nothing came out of it because, like always there is no plan for this.  I pray, I make the best decisions I can in that moment, and I pray some more.  I’ve made more mistakes in the past 2 months in parenting than probably in the past 2 years. 

Each time I make one, I admit them to C, I ask for his forgiveness.  I explain that mommy is still trying to learn to cope with Daddy’s death too, and we pray, we hug, and we start over again.  Maybe that’s step one in raising a man? Admitting mistakes, asking for forgiveness, and changing your actions to reflect the lesson you learned? Who knows? I didn’t figure out much in the “how to raise a man” pity party I was having today.  I know plenty of moms and dads who are raising boys together and still don’t know these answers.  Even when I was throwing myself this pity party for over half the day, I knew it was pointless, but it didn’t change how I felt.  I don’t think these feelings will go away. I worry more about how this is affecting C than I do myself. He’s my driving force.  

And so this afternoon, after getting home, a friend came over to take J’s bike out for a ride.  It has to be done until we can sell it.  I’m sure when he walked in, I must have had a horrible look on my face.  At that time, I was juggling at LEAST 4 different tasks, and I simply was about at my wit’s end.  He told me to go get J’s helmet and to hop on J’s bike.

For those of you who knew the old me, you are thinking, yep, there’s no way she did that.  Yeah, I told him that a few months ago too, “not going to happen.” But for some reason, I didn’t question it.  For some reason, the idea of actually riding J’s bike, (and as a side note a motorcycle for the first time) was appealing and seemed therapeutic.  I followed directions, hopped on the bike, and off we went. And yes, I did consider for a second how dangerous it was, but I also felt this innate desire to be alive today.  And being on the back of the bike just seemed right.

I thought I would be terrified.  The opposite happened.  I felt alive.  And then, I began to think about who J was a person.  I think so many of my fears about C’s future stem from the idea that I’m afraid I won’t know what J would say to him.  And, even though he’s dead, he is still C’s daddy.  I married J in part because I knew he would be a great daddy, and I wasn’t wrong.  Therefore, I want to tell C what J would tell him. 

So as I’m riding, I started thinking about J and his values, morals, ideas, likes, dislikes, and his crazy theories. I started to smile, well in between passing cars :).  I guess you could say I had a conversation with J while on his bike.  The bike he could NEVER convince me to ride because I always felt too scared.  Today, even more of J rubbed off on me.  I’m by NO MEANS fearless; however, today I’m one step closer.  It’s sad to say that I understood who he was on a level that I never had when he was alive because I would never let go of that fear. 

Today on the back of his bike, and during some reflection at a farm, I realized, I’m going to be alright raising C on my own.  I realized how well I actually know his daddy, and that even if I don’t know the answer, the right one always seems to appear.  Since J died, I’ve always worried about whether or not I’m making the right decisions.  But today, while watching some dogs play on a farm, I remembered, he was the one who let me make all the decisions anyways, and then he would validate those decisions.  In his death, I miss that validation.  I miss knowing that he’s on board with my decision.  But today, it’s odd to say, but on the back of that bike, I felt like I got my validation.  He always told me I was too uptight, and that I needed to live a little more.  He was right. 

Through J’s death, so much of his tendencies, qualities, and ideas have rubbed off on me.  Due to this happening, I realized today, that C has a momma in the flesh, and a daddy whose spirit still flows to some degree through his momma. And because of this, he still has two parents.  That seems weird even as a I write it, but that’s the best way I can describe it.  I’m hoping the ideas I’m attempting to convey come through correctly.

Even though I’m sure I’ll second guess myself, and my parenting decisions so many more times in the future, right now, I know that if I just stop and stay still for a second, J’s ideas, thoughts, and feelings still flow through me.  Even if staying still is being held hostage on the back of a bike, where being still is your only safe option at the time ;).

One day can change everything.  One choice changed our lives forever.  It has caused me to second guess myself more than I ever thought possible, to cry more than humanly imaginable, to reflect on deeper level, to grow closer to people who uphold the same morals and values as J and I do, and most importantly to grow into a person I never had the courage to be.  To grow into the person that I am destined to be.  Of course I would trade in all of this growth for my husband to be back; however, that no longer is an option.  When I signed up to be an officer’s wife, I had NO idea SO much officer blood, thoughts, and values would run through me.  I had no way of knowing that because of his ultimate sacrifice, I would be forced to grow. I don’t like that it had to happen, and I would give anything to change it, but I do like the person it is slowly making me become.  Right now, I only like a few scattered pieces of her.  But in the end, I’m determined to like all of her. I’m determined that through his death,  I’m going to love who I become.  It beats the other option. Either way, he isn’t coming back. I might as well love the person I become.

 And, now I am given the task of raising a boy into a man.  The difference is, today I believe I can do that.

 When I started this post, the title was really negative in connotation.  But because I’m a firm believer in silver linings, this post is ending with a positive note I wasn’t sure I could promise you at the beginning.

One day can truly change everything; however, every day is an a chance for your life to change forever.  Everyday I have a choice, and thankfully only half of today was negative.  Thankfully at the end of the day, I got to talk to my precious 5 year old about how happy his daddy was to see him turn 5, and I got to hold him until he fell asleep.  And then afterwards, I get to sit here and reflect on how much like his daddy I have become.  I don’t have to worry about whether or not he’ll remember his daddy because in 7 years of marriage, and 6 being an officer’s wife, I finally realized today on the back of his bike, that I really did know him.  And in the end, C will be just fine and so will his slightly less square mommy ;).

 

And The Battle Continues- A Pre-Trial, A Birth, And A Defining Moment

Today was the day I have been dreading since J was killed almost 2 months ago.  Today was the day I didn’t think I possessed enough strength to endure. A day that I was certain would define me as a person.  It seems as if I’ve had my fair share of those days recently.  Days that defined me as a person.  Today for the first time, I saw the driver in person. Because of the fact that the blog is a public document, I don’t feel it is appropriate to discuss in detail my feelings about the case, charges, or even really how I feel about him; however, I don’t have to discuss those in order to convey to you how today defined me.  I apologize up front for the blog lacking the normal humor you may be expecting, and I can’t even promise you it will be as analytical as I have been in the past.  I can promise that this is as real as it gets.  I will also apologize for the length – there’s no way to sum up a day that defines you as a person in a few paragraphs. 

I feared this day because today would be the day I knew I would be crushed.  As an educator, I’m called to find the good in all.  To mold, shape, coax, and sometimes demand that they give me their best.  And when I ended the school year, I felt I had given it my all.  That I was doing the best I could at finding the good in all of my students. It’s what makes a good educator – never giving up, and returning again with a new battle plan. Staying up until 2 am to develop that plan, and then pretending that it was your plan all along! 

Since I learned of this pre-trial date, I debated on how I would feel. I stayed up until 2 am trying to come up with a battle plan, a way I wanted to act, how I wanted to be perceived.  The more I thought and “planned,” the more nervous, uncertain, and literally scared I became.  Yep, I said it – scared.  I wanted to face the fact that J was dead, and at the hands (whether intentional or not that’s for the jury to decide) of another person.  I knew that my mind wanted to face this person, to look him in the eye, and to walk away with my pride.  But I knew my heart wasn’t ready for that. As crazy as it seems, I wanted him to be a good guy.  The educator in me ALWAYS seems to win.  I always rationalize a way it could have been an accident.  Maybe you will call me a liar, but honestly, I wanted for him to have made a mistake, to admit it, and for our lives to return to normalcy; however, my heart wasn’t ready for this not to be the end result.  Today meant for the first time that my fantasy world, in which I was adorned in my survival costume, must come to an end.  It meant it was time to face reality, and I didn’t know if I was ready for that.  Really, how does one prepare for that?  I prayed of course, and I assembled my Justice League.  But, still I didn’t feel ready.

When I woke this morning, so many things happened even before the pre-trial.  These really aren’t that important, except that I found myself being extremely bitter.  Lacking compassion and happiness.  Little man and I sat in the chair for quite sometime as I thought about the task that was placed before me. How one action, one choice, altered my destiny forever.  And, this made me even more bitter.  I was short with friends, ungrateful, and honestly, I wouldn’t have even wanted to be around myself.  I had friends who rearranged and sacrificed for me, and here I was feeling ungrateful.  Even realizing how I was acting, didn’t change my feelings.  I simply wasn’t ready for my core values to be shaken again.  Isn’t it enough that I’ve had this happen at least weekly for the past 2 months?  And, I begin to wonder, “why?” Oh, the “whys” could go on forever. 

I don’t even remember most of the events or conversations that lead up to the moment he walked in.  It was all a blur.  Again, a paradox. I wanted to see him, face my fears, look him in the eye, and then I wanted to run, to go back to my fantasy world where I can pretend that all people make the right decisions.  Then, I thought, about something I said a while back, I refuse to be even more of a victim. 

Yes, that might mean that I have my world views robbed of me, that my world of “unicorns, sparkles, and happiness,” would be ripped from me, but this is my fate and I was destined to live it for a reason.  So, in he walked.  And suddenly I’m flooded with too many emotions to name.  And, while the whole ordeal lasted less than 5 minutes, in those 5 minutes, my world changed, yet again, forever.  Again, because of the actions of others, I was forced to redefine myself. 

As I left there, I was crushed. My world view was altered, and it was a this point, when I really understood how my husband felt all too often.  How it feels to be surrounded by people who alter other’s lives without any regard for another’s feelings. And how it feels to see so much negativity.  And again, I found myself attempting to be the pink behind his thin blue line – except this time, I wasn’t very pink.  I have always been the person who encouraged him to see the good, even when he was surrounded by the bad. To pray, to encourage, to listen: those were just a few of my roles as the pink.  Yet, for a LONG time today, I couldn’t find my pink.  I couldn’t even encourage myself to see the good. And, I allowed myself to wallow in this for quite sometime today – all while being a bitter, and probably a really ungrateful person at the time.  (And, please don’t tell me I wasn’t.  I know myself.  I know how I felt, and I know you don’t want me to beat myself up, but being honest with yourself is important especially at this time in my life.)

I put Little Man to bed, and I decided to try to block out the world for a while.  I had to decompress. There were too many layers of feelings to even begin to tackle.  And, so I put on some music, and begin to try to catch up on the lives of my friends. Maybe, just maybe, they had some good in their lives. 

As I’m sitting in the recliner, my world was altered YET again.  Yes, I know – I told you today was a defining moment.  I have a very special former student in my life who is choosing to begin to walk the thin blue line.  I’ve mentored him through a lot of different career paths, and honestly, I always knew he would put on the uniform someday. He is destined for it.  I also now have the privilege of knowing his beautiful fiancé.   I get to watch her journey of becoming his pink.  And, today they brought a precious, innocent, baby boy into the world.  I watched their videos of Baby B, and I bawled.  I sobbed, and I waited for a moment of clarity.  If I’ve learned anything in the past two months, it’s that there is ALWAYS a moment of clarity at the end of a good long cry. 

I sat and watched the video a few times, and I begin to think of how great of a young man baby B is destined to be.  I know that because of J’s decision to be an officer, and the morals and values it takes to perform his duties well, and because of the balance I brought to J’s life, that Little Man is raised differently than many other kids.  He’s raised with the ability to see the world in its truest and most pure fashion.  Little Man gets the benefit of his momma who always sees the good, and his daddy who tries to ensure there is some good left to see.  And, because of that, he is beyond blessed. And today when I faced my worst fear, a beautiful baby was brought into the world. And today, instead of me being the pink behind the blue line, baby B was my reminder of the pink. The balance in a world that seems so dark far too often. 

I smiled at the end of my cry because today on the same day that I finally gave in and admitted that there really isn’t always a silver lining to some people, was the day that Baby B was born with a chance to have numerous silver linings.  He gets a chance to change the world, and his amazing parents get to mold him with the same values Little Man has. B’s birth today was a reminder of the good. And the fact that he is born to a future officer, is all the better.

Before writing this, I walked back into Little Man’s room. And I sat in the floor for a while.  I thought about how my role in his life has changed.  How I no longer get to be the person who always points out the good. And how over the past 2 months, unfortunately, I have had to point out a LOT of bad to him; however, I also realized that if I want him to grow up to be the person J and I wanted him to be, then I can’t just see the bad. 

I can’t let the anger, resentment, and hurt eat away at me.  Tonight, I realized that in a way, more of J rubbed off on me than I could have ever known.  And today, the process of forgiveness begins.  It’s a slow process, one that I’m not even sure I can really do; however, forgiving him is my gift to him, but moving on with a new attitude, one that combines both my educator outlook as well as my husband’s, is my gift to myself, my son, and Baby B.  Little Man and B deserve to grow up in a world where people still see the good despite the bad.

It was in watching the video of that tiny baby, that I realized, the battle isn’t over.  Just because I have absolutely NO battle plan at this point, no plan, and no general direction, doesn’t mean that I have to let the events of June 14th rob me of my world view.  I can still see the good, but in a more realistic way than ever before.  I’m more guarded, more protective of myself and Little Man, but I can still raise him to believe in the good because I am raising him to be the good. 

Words  really don’t convey what I’m attempting to explain.  And for the first time, I’m writing this without really editing it.  I want you to see my thoughts, to feel them, and to hopefully realize how important you are in continuing to create the good.  So often our views are tainted by the one “bad” experience, and we just keep letting that define us.  And the reality is, I could do the same. But I wouldn’t only be letting it define me, I would be letting it define our son as well. And, because of him and Baby B, and all those like them, we fight on.  And, even though many times it feels as if we are losing, we still keep fighting.  And our greatest weapon is how we raise our children. 

Congrats to D and D tonight in the birth of their baby boy.  He’s an inspiration, and he hasn’t even left the hospital.  However, you two are an inspiration as well.  You are reminder that there is hope, and beauty in a world that too often seems dark.  And, I know you have waited FOREVER for baby B to be here, but I am thankful he chose today to be born.  I’m thankful that God gave me a message loud and clear, and that we will keep fighting.