11 months ago at 12:25 am, I was asleep in my bed. Jason was probably either up watching Netflix, playing on Xbox live, or was out patrolling the streets. All was right with C’s sense of safety. Our universe was in order, our cards seem to be dealt right, and it felt like God was leading us down a path of the happiest years of our marriage and lives. Jason had the job he wanted, we had a supportive group of friends and family, and C loved his school. The hardest decisions we were making at the time pertained to either buying or building a future home, and whether or not we wanted to begin to try again to have another little one. At the time, those decisions seemed overwhelming, and I wasn’t sure if we were making the right ones.
11 months ago, my world had the illusion of perfection. If God could throw glitter and gold down upon our lives, it seemed as if it couldn’t be more possible than where we were 11 months ago. From the moment Jason decided to apply for the job in Texas, to the moment we crossed over the state line and officially became “Texans,” every door was thrown open, and God seemed to be saying, “Come on my child, follow me. I’ll lead you where you need to be. Trust me.” And, so we did. We trusted. We trusted enough to leave every bit of our biological family, friends who we had known since we were in diapers together, jobs we had become emotionally and financially vested in, and we threw our hands in the air and trusted… Little did I know at the time, what our future held almost exactly one year to the day from when we “trusted,” and officially became Texans.
11 months ago, when my world was rocked at its innermost core. When a piece of my validation, my sense of safety, the daddy of my precious baby, my best friend, my comical relief, and my counter-weight left the world, I was angry because I had “trusted.” I fought back bitter thoughts that flooded my mind; I repressed sour tasting words that seeped into my mouth and escaped as an almost silent whisper in the dead of the night- when no one was there to hear them but me and the one whom I trusted. I’ve yet to share those darkest of times, not because I am ashamed of them- we are human. We are flawed by our nature. We are cursed because of the sins of our forefathers, to strive to reach perfection, but to never quite achieve it. I’m not ashamed of my doubt and anger at the fact that I trusted God’s plan. It’s just sometimes we don’t realize how important a moment is, until another moment comes along and connects the two. I didn’t realize how important those early morning hours spent lying in bed, crying, and silently whispering my deeply rooted anger at how I felt betrayed, confused, and lost because we had taken a leap of faith, and trusted. I couldn’t realize how important those darkest moments were because I had turned off the light. I had created the darkness.
In those darkest moments, I was blaming God for the lack of light, when in reality, my hand was on the switch all the time. I was so blinded by my anger and sense of betrayal, that for a small amount of time, I was struggling to believe the light switch even existed any more. Thoughts of “how could you rob my baby of growing up with his daddy,” “ why of all people did we have to suffer this much,” and, “how could you lead us down such a ‘path of perfection,’ to allow it to end in death, heartache, and destruction?” My words lashed out at a God I felt misguided me. While my tongue acted as a whip in an attempt to rationalize the reality before me, my hands were searching. Searching for the light switch…the moment where my doubt would leave me, and an answer to “why,” would appear.
As I searched, certain events, dare I say milestones, occurred. Many firsts without Jason, hours of phone conversations with dear friends, the reality of a dream coming true, The Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line forming, the trial, memorials, and so many more events happened around me, and all the while, I’m still searching for the switch. My human mind was looking for a switch that would instantly flood my dark world with light once more. Yet, that instantaneous flooding of light isn’t really possible after a traumatic loss. One naturally expects because the light was taken away so quickly, that the same mirrored effect must happen for it to return. It wasn’t until recently, that I truly realized the impossibility of such a request. I wanted a flood light to appear out of nowhere. Ball park stadium lights to flood my life once more…but I wasn’t praying for the right “light switch.” A quick fix wasn’t in my future. Instead, God installed a dimming switch.
Each event, each “milestone,” each conversation, moved the dimming switch a tad bit lighter. The change in lighting wasn’t easily recognizable, and some days, it never changed at all. Yet, gradually, the light became a little brighter.
Tonight, almost 11 months after my light was turned out, I stand on the brink of attending National Police Week. A week dedicated to honoring our fallen. A week that ensures a “hero remembered never dies.” The sheer thought of attending such an awe-inspiring and honor-filled event leaves me feeling humbled. I fully understand the true cost of our sacrifice – I live it every minute of the day. Yet, still even 11 months afterwards, the honor that is so freely and willingly demonstrated for our fallen brings tears to my eyes. And while for some National Police Week may see to another reminder of their officer’s death. I sit here now, knowing my attendance at NPW is another way to honor my husband and all of the other brave officers who willingly sacrificed their lives for the greater good. I am able to have this perspective, because I am the one in control of my own light switch. God’s light has been shining all along. I created my own darkness.
Looking back on the past two weeks in my life, I can now measure the increase in light. In many aspects, the healing is harder, the pain more raw, and the moments of longing are more intense: yet, for some reason, even though the fog has lifted, and the reality of my new life has hit, there is more light than ever before. The memorials are never easy. They are vivid reminders of the true cost of an officer’s sacrifice. Yet, at the same time, they serve a dual reminder that Jason IS a member of a family who stands together no matter what. And, who demands that others respect them as well. I would give all the honor and respect back, to see C play with his daddy once more. The reality is…there shouldn’t have to be a week dedicated to our fallen. Even though it’s honorable, and their death heroic, it’s always unnecessary, and could have somehow been prevented.
Yet, this week I will stand with thousands of other families who understand the true cost of sacrifice. They too hold their switch to their own light source: and each one at a different stage of grief. I will stand next to thousands as they call out the names of the more than 100 officers who gave their lives last year. Tears will stream down my face as evidence of the sheer heartache Jason’s death has caused our family. And as those tears are streaming down my face, my heart will simultaneously feel grief but honor.
My light is getting brighter because the honor of Jason’s death is finally sinking in. Yes, it was unnecessary, and could have been prevented. But, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I married a man WILLING to sacrifice his life for the greater good. I know I married a man who put the safety and well-being of others above his own, and he did so right up until his death. I know that he isn’t alone in heaven. He and those 100 plus officers will be standing at the gates of heaven, and they will be smiling down at people who still remembers heroes. While the week will bring its share of sadness, it will also bring with it the reminder that even though we lost Jason, we are still winners. We chose the path of sacrifice, and because of that, there is honor in his death.
11 months after, I sit with a new found peace and comfort in the fact that while all of us wish there was no need for a fallen officers’ memorial, I am blessed to have such a close support group of men and women who understand me and stand beside me. I sit today feeling blessed even though tears will freely flow as reality sets in when I see his name forever etched in stone. But, I will be held up by a nationwide blue family who will forever carry Jason’s memory, and will ensure his sacrifice is never in vain.
Today, almost 11 months after Jason’s death, my dimming switch is far from at it’s peak capacity. It’s far sometimes even from flood lamp brightness, but my appreciation for and faith in my dimming switch, is the best it has ever been.
I firmly believe that God knew the end result of our move when we trusted Him. I know that He was preparing our family for a greater purpose much larger than ourselves. I also believe that He knew I would doubt Him, and lash out in anger, but that He planned to wait patiently. To gradually introduce me to people, and to place events and moments in my life that would slowly lead my hand towards the dimming switch. And each time my hand moved the switch up, my faith increased and my confidence did as well.
Tonight, as I finished packing for National Police Week, I was calm and at peace with attending. While Jason’s death was the darkest part of my life, I can’t continue to live there. It can only get brighter from here, and the only person who has control over that is me. The beauty of my hand being on the dimming switch, is that I’m in control of how dark I allow it to become. And, I have full faith that my hand is being guided and directed by my flood light. And if for some reason my world becomes dark again, I have such a wonderful group of blood and blue family who will be right there beside me until I can see the light again.
I am in charge of my light and my darkness, and while Jason was taken from us at a time I feel was “too soon,” I know with full faith God sees the greater plan. “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light…”