Thank you from a Law Enforcement Officer’s Wife. One day, I met my husband on his “lunch break,” not that he really has one of those, to pick up something. After the very few minutes we were together, he kissed me goodbye and headed back to his police car.
Law Enforcement Appreciation Day | January 9, 2022
As I was preparing to back out of the parking lot we met in, he trotted back over to me with something fluttering in his hand. He shoved it quickly through my open window, “It was on my car,” then gave me another quick love you, like so many other goodbyes, and he was gone again. I’d kept him too long as it was.
At first glance, I didn’t think much of it. The paper was just copy paper with a sticker on it and a paper clipped black and blue flag. But as I read the poem, I became more than a little teary, watching the flag blow in the AC.
I joked later that it was pregnant lady hormones that made me so emotional when reading this. But it wasn’t. On that particular day, I needed to hear that someone saw my husband was tired. That he was “flesh and bone.” An individual with a calling.
We Don’t Do it for the Glory
By far one of the hardest parts of this job is being dehumanized. There was a time when we stopped telling people we used to go to school with that my husband is a cop because of the way they looked at us changed in a blink. Like instantly – and he doesn’t have to be standing next to me for it to happen. “People either love you or hate you,” we say, “and their feelings usually have nothing to do with you at all.”
My husband would not be a police officer if he wasn’t called. It’s too dangerous, too demanding and absolutely too thankless. But he also wouldn’t do be a police officer because law enforcement is really a family calling – his work affects every aspect of my life and the lives of our children. If he wasn’t called to this work, to be your community hero, his wife couldn’t stand for him to do it.
To so many, my husband is his badge. But more than that, they forget that behind him, behind his flesh and bone, I’m standing. And so are our children, his mother. And we go with him into everything he does for your community. And he brings home, if only on his sleeve, all that he does for you.
He performed CPR until EMS arrived on a teen our son’s age who had been crushed by a ATV while out riding with friends. He was cussed at by fathers while trying to direct traffic in impossible situations that were absolutely out of his control at holiday events that he can’t take his own family to. He attended the autopsy of a two year old who just didn’t wake up from his nap one day to come home and tuck his own children in. He attended a call of a child drowning and wrestled with the unknown outcome for days as we family outings to the pool. He investigates countless rape cases while counseling our own teen daughter about how to use her phone and social media safely. And walked alone into a suicide-by-cop scenario with a mentally ill 20-something knowing his wife expects him to “do whatever it takes to come home” in an era when could he could be punished for protecting himself.
Knowing all the things we swallow, carry, worry, process and grieve – so many feelings – being unappreciated, hated even, is rough. But we will keep on doing this work because it is something our family is called to.
It’s Okay to Wave
Because of this tension between being called and ultimately doing a job that is so unpopular, the acts of gratitude that do come our way – like this little flag and poem – leave me in awe of and humbled by the love and support the community we work for shows our family. (And if you’ve read this far into this article, you are probably part of the greater community of supporters that keeps us going.)
This law enforcement wife wants you to know that my husband and I and our kids are so grateful for your support. Thank you for encouraging us, for having our “six.”
But thank you especially for leaving my husband tangible signs – something he can show his family at the end of a shift – of your support. Keep doing that. Leave those flags, notes, painted stones where he can find them. Feed him for me with a meal dropped off at the police department, or just wave at him as you pass him by on the street. (I promise they don’t give tickets just for smiling and waving.)
Even if what you’re doing does not feel like much, your thank-you trinket, your grateful gesture, it often comes home to me in some form or another. It’s put into my own hands. I read the words, “I see,” and I so much need to hear that.
A Tired LEO Wife