One might assume that after losing my husband in a line of duty related death, that my first official post might revolve around his death or the grieving process, and honestly, that’s what I planned to write about. Then, I titled the blog, and I realized I can’t write about just the grief, or his death, or what my life is like now, without first writing about how my world changed the day we chose as a couple to walk the thin blue line.
For those of you who aren’t members of the law enforcement community, but have either lost a loved one yourself or simply are one of the many who have encouraged me to blog, let me take a moment to explain to you what I mean by “walking a thin blue line.” I’ll be honest, the first time I heard of “the thin blue line,” I thought of a pregnancy test (don’t ask me) and the Johnny Cash song “Walking the Line” ( I think that’s the title). However, I can assure you, I was TOTALLY wrong on both accounts. I had no idea the level of commitment, sacrifice, dedication, sleepless nights, and rewards that walking this line meant. To sum it up:
“The blue line represents the officer and the courage they find deep inside when faced with insurmountable odds.
The black background was designed as a constant reminder of our fallen brother and sister officers.
The line is what police officers protect, the barrier between anomie and a civilized society, between order and chaos, between respect for decency and lawlessness.
Together they symbolize the camaraderie law enforcement officers share, a brotherhood like no other.”
When we, yes we (I’ll explain in a moment) signed up to become an officer, I had no idea what we were getting into. It seemed like an honorable job; it paid well, and yes, I understood it was dangerous, but that doesn’t “really happen.” Or so I thought…
We survived the academy, our first year, had a baby, and life seemed great. Then, I began to notice a change in both of us. The level of sacrifice on the part of both of us seemed to always be present. 12 hour shifts, horrible images and dreams that awoke him from a dead sleep, and then the same images plagued me at night because I was the one he vented to. So, we began to pray. At one point, we really thought “maybe we had misinterpreted his calling.” Maybe this wasn’t for him. It seemed as if he dealt with so much negativity, it spilled over into our son’s life and into mine as well.
We began to talk about whether or not the sacrifice was worth it; whether or not he actually made a difference. For those of you who are a part of the law enforcement community, you understand; you’ve all felt the same way at some point in time. Probably if you are honest with yourself, numerous times throughout your career.
Finally, one night, the answer came to me. Jason and I began to talk about the brotherhood and the family that we gained through becoming an officer’s family. The level of support and strength that came from our “blue family.” We prayed some more, and we realized that if we don’t fight the battle who will? Giving in because the sacrifice was “too difficult” or “too time consuming,” simply wasn’t an option. By giving in, we were letting them win. And that simply wasn’t acceptable in our minds. So the next day, I ironed his uniforms, he put on his vest, I kissed him good bye and told him to be safe. He responded with “Always.” And, from that day forward, we never doubted his calling or the level of sacrifice we had to make in order to ensure he continued his calling. Being an officer was in his blood, and even though I didn’t know it for quite some time (over half my life) it was in mine as well.
That day solidified our place in the “blue family.” We grew together. Being an officer’s wife shaped my view of the world. It is the primary means by which I define myself. I pride myself in being the pink behind the thin blue line. When we moved, and became a member of a different department, our family increased. The levels of sacrifice did as well. As an officer’s wife, I was used to 12 hour shifts, making what I call “executive decisions” because he couldn’t answer the phone due to the fact that he was in the process of making decisions about someone else’s life. It seemed easier to do all of these things because of the support system we had. I, as an officer’s wife, was called to perform my duties just as my husband did. I’m blessed to be the pink behind the blue line. While my uniform isn’t as “professional” and definitely not as stinky, my level of sacrifice for him to perform his duties is a calling on my part. One that few want to accept, but one that we accepted because it is what is right, and it is God’s plan in our lives. As odd as it sounds, it worked for us.
Then on the night of June 14, 2013, our small “blue family,” was called to make the ultimate sacrifice any officer’s family can make. That night my husband sustained injuries from a hit and run accident that ultimately claimed his life the following day. Yes, I knew this result was a possibility in our line of duty; however, it didn’t take away the pain, the shock, the anger, or the confusion. That night, we made the ultimate sacrifice so that others can live in peace, feel safe in their homes, and continue on their normal lives. That night my husband went from walking the thin blue line, to becoming part of that black background. And yes, I could have faded into that background along with him. Which, don’t get me wrong, that black background is just as honorable or even more so than the thin blue line that separates it. It’s the representation of the ultimate sacrifice. And, yes, there were days, and sometimes there still are, when I feel like just giving in, but then I remember that I just like my husband accepted this calling. That my duties as an officer’s wife do not end with his death. That I’m still called to support those who walk the line. While I’m not the pink behind his blue line anymore, I’m the pink behind so many more. I’m the reminder that even though we choose to sacrifice on a daily basis, that without us the world would be a darker place. I still walk that line, as a choice, because it honors my husband and all the others who make up that black background. Even after almost 2 months since he died, I get up every morning, some more difficult than others, and I walk the line. I put on my strong face, and I continue to make sacrifices. I’ll always be an officer’s wife. It defines me. It is what helps me know I’m making a difference.
While, I’m going to continue to blog, this first post seemed imperative. I’m certain there will be days in which I doubt my calling. Where I want to throw in the towel, and honestly, I could. However, I’m praying that this blog becomes a source of strength for me as I face the trial, the criminal process, and the aftermath that will come from the sentencing. I’m hoping it is my place to heal, but most importantly, I’m praying it serves as an inspiration to other officer’s wives, but also to those who continue to fight the battle.