True Cost of an Officer’s Sacrifice

There is a moment every night that simultaneously breaks my heart yet paradoxically drives me to start over again the next day. Right before my little man falls into a deep sleep, and he lets go of my hand that he still needs to hold in order to fall asleep, my heart breaks all over again. Never to the degree that it did the moment I said my final goodbyes to Jason, but close.  After he releases his hand, his breathing changes, and he is peaceful. In that moment, I don’t worry about whether or not he misses his daddy, or where he is in our “grief journey.” You would think this moment would lift my spirits, and in some ways it does. This moment often provides me the strength to continue on tomorrow; however, after Jason paid the ultimate sacrifice, this moment, like all other moments, is bittersweet. I wish that my son would be able to have more peaceful moments.  More moments that were all about just being 6, moments that were all about him.  I wish that when he blocks a goal at a game, I could look into his eyes and only feel immense pride and happiness, instead of the bittersweet feeling of the absence of Jason’s presence mixed with my own happiness at my son’s success.  Yet, after living well over a year as an officer’s widow, I’m well aware of the bittersweet state in which I frequently live my life.

We are an example of the true cost of an officer’s sacrifice.

As a mother when I look into the eyes of my little man, I see his bright future, his unlimited abilities, his over the top personality. As I spend moments playing with him, I witness his optimism, hear his laughter, and see his active imagination. However, as an officer’s widow, I also endure his pain, longing, frustration, confusion, and anger.  I see his fears acted out in front of me, his anger that surfaces when one minute detail goes wrong, and I see the thoughts of “I wish daddy were here,” flash across his face. Each day, I wake up and I am a mom who fixes, plays, corrects, loves, hugs, kisses, and laughs. Yet sadly, I am a constant reminder of the reality that it is JUST me left, that I will never be able to bring his daddy back, and that as much as he wants me to be able to fix everything, the reality is – I can’t

We are an example of the true cost of an officer’s sacrifice.

Every day when I wake up before my feet hit the floor, I am comforted by the brief microsecond where the semi consciousness from sleep still clouds my thoughts and lulls me into the false assumption that I live a normal life.  In that microsecond, I sometimes begin to think of a story I have to tell Jason when he gets home, or I start to strain my ear for the sound of Velcro – indicating he’s taking off his vest, and is once again in the safe haven of our home.  At times, when I’m out running errands, and my mind is preoccupied with the long to do list of the current day, I find my thoughts centered around, “ what to make Jason for dinner,” or straining to recall whether or not uniforms have been washed, dried, and pressed for the next shift.  Each morning when I wake up and put my wedding rings on, the paradox of the indestructible love they represent, and the reality of my life without him, is often times a heavy burden to bear. Yet, I still put them on.  I wear them because they are a symbol of the paradoxical life I am now forced to live, and one of the few symbols from the past that I can still cling to.

We are an example of the true cost of an officer’s sacrifice.

A life where I constantly compare the after to the before.  A life some say “I signed up for,” that I “knew the risks of, yet still chose to stand beside him anyhow.” A life where I walk my son into his first day of Kindergarten, and we wave to daddy who is watching us from heaven.  A hallway I walk down alone, as I leave my son standing at the end, silently crying for me to return to him.  There’s no husband to wrap his arms around me and comfort me, and there’s no daddy to retell his first day of school to.  Hours spent concentrating on my thoughts and hopes, praying with all of my being that they will reach heaven, and somehow, if I’m still and quiet enough, I will feel his answer in my heart.

We are an example of the true cost of an officer’s sacrifice.

At times I feel cursed to never live a normal life again.  And the mommy in me, metaphorically dies a thousand times a day at the little moments my son no longer gets to share with Jason.

Each milestone, each tear, each goal, each birthday.

Each year, each day, each minute, and each second.

Every breath, every picture, and every decision.

Every moment of the rest of our lives is how you can weigh out the true cost of an officer’s sacrifice.

Yes, a life “I signed up for,” and I even willingly brought my son into; yet, as a nation we are witnessing more and more of our officer’s families begin their journey in the “after,” and as a whole, we are doing nothing. Yes, we all “signed up for it.” Jason “signed up to be willing to give his life for the betterment of the community.” I “signed up to stand beside him, and to continue to honor and respect our officers if he ever were to be killed.” However, since when did someone’s willingness to sacrifice for their community, or his wife’s willingness to raise a son on her own become a valid reason for one’s death?

Sacrifice is no stranger at the Sprague household; however, lately, I’ve been quite angry, and I can’t help but find myself thinking how much will I have to sacrifice? And, when I stop to think about the answer, it frightens me to my core.  We have been chosen to continue to sacrifice for the rest of our lives.  There will never come a day when my son or I can escape the reality of Jason’s willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice.  Even as C grows older, I began to form a “new” life, and our day-to-day routines become as “normal’ as possible, we won’t escape the reality that our family has been destined to a lifetime of ultimate sacrifices. We have a future that is forever altered by one choice.  And the frightening aspect is, the same choice that ended my husband’s life is being made at an alarming rate in our society. The choice to see our heroes as less than human.  As a target, a nuisance, evil, a blue uniform, an enemy, but not human.

Have you ever truly stopped to contemplate the true cost of an officer’s sacrifice?

When you pass a police car on the side of the interstate, do you think about that officer’s family? Or, do you just slam on your brakes in hopes to avoid being clocked by his radar?

When you are badmouthing our nation and its crime ridden neighborhoods, drug infested homes, and broken education system, do you ever stop to think about how much worse it would be without those who are willing to assume the responsibility that comes with putting on a badge and gearing up to be an officer?

Where would our nation be without families who are willing to send their officer out to walk the thin blue line and right as many wrongs as possible in a 12 hour shift?

Yet, their willingness to do so is now being used as ammunition against them.

Our nation is rapidly assuming a detached attitude towards our blue defenders. Maybe it seems that having no opinion towards an officer’s willingness to protect and serve is not a pressing issue in our society; however, if we aren’t careful, we could create a nation where statements such as, “if [that] officer had stayed in his car, he wouldn’t have been shot,” become the norm.

The ammunition of “we signed up for this life,” is being aimed at us from all directions, yet, the Law Enforcement world is made up of officers and families who are born fighters. We aren’t giving up, and even though we are forced to sacrifice some, you aren’t winning.  While my family is forced to sacrifice for the rest of our lives, I still don’t view the “other” side as victorious.  If members of our nation refuse to help us humanize our heroes, we will continue to fight.  Families will still send their officers off at the start of each shift, and we will pray until the return home safely.  And if we lose one in the battle, know this we won’t back down. Yet, it isn’t just “our” job to humanize our heroes. We shouldn’t HAVE to worry about losing one of our own.  We should live in a society who guards those who are willing to give their lives.  We shouldn’t have to dodge the verbal ammunition of “signing up for this life.”  But, we do.  Our officers continue to walk the line daily, and the very LEAST members of society could do would be to view them as human.

The true cost of an officer’s sacrifice can never be repaid because it can never be accurately measured.  When we lose an officer, we are losing one more hero who stood on the line between good and evil, and we are creating one more family to live in the “after without their hero.”  Another hero who left his hat for us to cling to instead of his hand, as we start on our new journey without him….

Photo Credit to: John Bunch http://www.bunchphoto.com/

Photo Credit to: John Bunch http://www.bunchphoto.com/

32 thoughts on “True Cost of an Officer’s Sacrifice

  1. elaine turley says:

    Your blogs are so heart touching and makes me so thankful for every day my husband comes home safe and sound I worry about him alot when he is at work putting his life on the line it is the upmost sacrifice I always pray to God to keep him safe and bring him home to me and our son my husband thought alot of Jason and it still hurts him to have lost a good friend and a brother

  2. Leah says:

    I think this is the most beautiful and courageous post I have ever read. As an officer’s wife and a dispatcher, I hold all of them near and dear. Best wishes to you. Stay strong. The LE family will always stand with you.

    • ssprague02 says:

      Leah, thank you for the incredibly kind words! A tremendous amount of my strength comes from the support I receive from my nationwide LE family. I assure you that you and your husband, as with all others, are in my thoughts and prayers. Also, thank you for your service as a dispatcher. I know Jason received help ASAP because his dispatchers knew him well enough to know something was wrong when he didn’t immediately check he was okay on scene. You all play such a huge role in the safety of our officers!

  3. Amanda says:

    Beautifully written, heartFULL words. I am crying as I read them, thinking of my LEO. Much love to you and your sweet boy. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Tammye Cook says:

    Thank you for this. It was very beautiful and it made me cry. This is so true and I am an officers wife and the mother of a correctional officer and I pray every time they go to work that they come home safely. I am so sorry for you and your little boys loss. Y’all are in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for your words here. I almost lost my husband in a car accident seven years ago while on routine patrol. He was in a wheel chair for six weeks and out of work for seven months. Many have assumed he was speeding and we’ve had to endure cruel words from least likely subjects even though he was found to be completely innocent in any wrongdoing of the crash. I pray all day long for his safety and I am grateful for the sacrifice he makes to keep our state safe. For a long while I would break into tears to think of the simple things, like “who would cut the boys’ hair if we had lost their Daddy that day?” The healing of hurts takes its time and toll, but we are grateful he is here today with us. We’ve had four more children since the accident for a total of seven kids. God is the restorer, healer, and great physician. He gives and He takes away, but we are thankful that no matter what tomorrow brings He will see us through. When I see the world growing darker and more hostile toward our men in blue, I look to the One who brings the peace, our Prince of peace. May God bless you as you walk a new journey of healing with your son while sharing hope with others after the ultimate sacrifice.

    • ssprague02 says:

      Jennifer, thank you for such beautiful words! And, thank you for your husband’s service, as well as your family’s! I am so glad that he was able to return to full capacity, and that God blessed you with more children! You are so right about the source of our strength and the provider of our peace!

  6. Kari says:

    This is an amazing and powerful post. Thank you for writing this post. Sending love and prayers. Stay strong. You have a large group of us police wives standing by your side.

  7. Kim Sanders says:

    WOW! Your words brought tears to my eyes. I am not the wife of a LEO but the aunt to my beautiful niece who lost her high school sweetheart in the line of duty. There are no words that really can comfort but know that I will be praying for you and your sweet boy. Thank you for loving your husband and being willing to take the risk with him. I have learned it is just in them to serve, something they are born to do. I am thankful for men like Jason and our Josh who were not afraid to wear the badge, a badge that represents courage and courage is something that the killer does not have. {{{Hugs}}}

  8. ibejedi says:

    What a beautifully written, heart wrenching blog post. Every day for the last 16 years or so, I have lived the police wife life too. I’ve seen so many sides of the life — through my own experiences or those of friends, watching officers take medical retirements from injuries at work, be injured or killed in the line of duty, even be killed on the way home from work in a terrible accident, that doesn’t “count” as being a line of duty death.

    I was also a dispatcher for 6 years at my husband’s agency — which puts you in a unique position as a wife. At the time, I thought it made it easier in many ways, because I lived the monotony that usually rules their shifts, and heard the real story for the other white knuckled, holy crap 5% percent of the time. But in some ways, it made it harder too, knowing the things that do happen, not having any sort of shield or filter between their work life and your mind. Plus, being a dispatcher gives you a bunch of other “work husbands” to look after and keep safe — something good dispatchers do daily, and any trauma, loss or tragedy to one of them brings a special kind of pain.

    As we have grown older, and had children together, the life you live every day crosses my thoughts more often. I have met and become friendly with other wives who have lived your life. Seeing the scary things that seem to keep happening more and more often to LEO’s, and the disgusting attitudes and ideas that seem to be spreading like wildfire, frankly, scare the poop out of me. Reading your post, has brought tears to my eyes…and I hope that it will bring understanding to at least one person who never even spared a thought for what you live through every day.

    From the bottom of my heart, I wish you and your son peace and comfort. You will both be in my heart, and thank you so very much for sharing your heart and soul with us.

    • ssprague02 says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! And, thank you for your service as a wife and dispatcher! Please know that in this crazy world, there is still good. My prayers mimic yours in that hopefully this changes the mindset of at least one. You are a sister and a blessing! Thank you!

  9. Lindsey says:

    As a police officer of 8 years myself, all I can say to you about this is.. Thank you. Thank you for your service, your loyalty to your husband, your dedication to law enforcement and your time to reach out and touch so many lives with this incredible story that is not just a story.. It’s your every day reality. Your life. We, as officers are able to fight this never ending battle of evil because of who we go home to at the end of these shifts and you are still a woman for all LEO wives to strive to be. Thank you ma’am. I’m so touched by this.

    • ssprague02 says:

      Lindsey, thank you for your service! It takes a special person to be a LEO spouse, and I feel as if we are called as much as the officer is. No matter where I end up in life, a part of me will always be an officer’s wife. It’s a role I never took lightly and was a tremendous part of my identity. While this is not the ideal life I’d like to lead, I am determined to make the best of it. Please know I pray for you and all other LEOS nightly….

  10. Veta ferguson says:

    When my husband decided to be a police officer I feared for him,I didn’t want the man I loved to be in harms way but I didn’t want to interfere in his dream to do what he wanted to do in life it wasn’t fair to him. But I had the opportunity to talk to a friend of mine whose husband had been a police officer and she told me “Honey if they have the bug then there isn’t anything you can do but put them in God’s hands and let em go.”Well with our love of the Lord,it made sense somehow and when he graduated from the academy in 2006 as I pinned his officers police badge on him I told him”this is where I give you to God” and then it was a done deal.I am so proud of him for the difficult,challenging, and sometimes heartbreaking work he has to do. God bless and may Jesus keep his protecting Angels and hands around all of our police officers.

  11. McKenzie Mattingly says:

    NEVER FORGET!!!

  12. Marlies Robison says:

    Thank you! Finally a voice in opposition of the media. I am thankful for the service & sacrifice of officers & their families & always will be no matter what the media portrays! Thank you for your strength & courage!

  13. Lisa McBride says:

    My husband was an LEO and passed away in Jan 2013. Although he didn’t die in the line of duty (it was a massive heart attack while getting ready for his shift) I can totally relate to your life. I too am raising a son alone and each day there are new challenges and old memories to wade through. May God Bless you as you move forward with your new journey.

  14. Wendy says:

    Thank you for sharing these words. So beautifully written. I am a retired LEO and I share in your sorrow and lift you and your son in my kindest thoughts, prayers, and support. I am saddened by these senseless attacks on our LEOs, both physical and in the media. Know that you are always part of this family – thank you for sharing your husband with us. I never knew him, and yet I do.
    All my best,
    Wendy
    California

  15. Kristina says:

    Amazing. Just amazing.

  16. Bearmama says:

    Prayers to you and your son. As one LEO wife to another, my heart breaks for you. I pray that your life will be beautiful again. Not the same, I know, but beautiful.

  17. Robbie Low says:

    I was amazed when my husband (veteran cop of 25 yrs) began reading your article aloud to me from TMPA magazine. He rarely finds something touching enough to read it to me so this action is really saying a lot. Thank you for writing an article that shows him the world of law enforcement that I live in each day and that he rarely thinks about as he goes about his day. My daily worries are so different from his, and we often keep them private because additional worries are non-productive. God knows his job is hard enough without him having to worry about me worrying. Your article was very touching, and I will be praying for your family as your make this journey.

    • ssprague02 says:

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and to share your fears as a LEOW. Through this journey I’ve learned that my words and story have been used to help people in ways I never dreamed or imagined. I truly appreciate the sacrifices you and your family make daily. I will pray for your family, and thank you again for letting me know our story is being used for a greater good- in this, I know Jason will never be forgotten.

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