Dec 14 2012

Today’s news in Connecticut

Yesterday, I started to write this blog. It was totally different. I was going to take a break. Let you know that I would be back after the holidays.

And then I saw the news today.

That in itself is a miracle. Since I live in the middle of nowhere we have no television. But today was a town day. We stopped for lunch and watched the events in play-back on the television above our table.

Horrific. Nauseating. Overwhelming.

Then, during one of the news clips of various shots of the scene, I saw a uniform. Several in fact.

Another day at work.

And my heart broke again.

They will write their reports. Possibly have a debriefing about the horror they saw. And they will go home. Their wives could possibly have also had a stressful day. Sick children. Broken appliances. The stress of knowing her husband was on scene.

But regardless of what it may look like on the outside. Life does not just go back to normal.

Being married to a law enforcement officer is like being handed a bucket. Every incident and trauma that your spouse witnesses becomes a brick in your bucket. Even if they don’t tell you about it. There is something you can see in their eyes. In the way they hug their children. In the way they bark security measures. What changes them, changes you.

The bucket gets heavier. 

I refuse to use the word burden. It’s not that kind of bucket. But whatever name you give it, it’s presence is unavoidable.

I’ve carried that bucket. In some ways I still do. Life changes us. There is no going back.  But I want to share a secret I’ve learned. A message to the wives of those officers from Connecticut. And to anyone else who carries the bucket.

You love your husband. You gladly carry the bucket. A sign of solidarity. You think you are alone in that. Your friends can’t see the bucket and sometimes your family can’t either.

But you are not alone. 

If nothing else, you have sisters who also stand behind the Thin Blue Line. We see your bucket and we are praying for you and your family. We pray too for the families of those who lost someone, but we don’t forget the one’s called to serve and protect and the one’s who love them.

You are in our prayers. You are in our hearts. We see your bucket.

May our prayers lift your load and may we all look to the day when Peace rules.


Oct 18 2012

Collateral Damage

Death danced outside our door again.

His fingers long and reach beyond

the body that they claim. 

When my husband got home last night, he shared about his day. It began with a roll-over of a van full of kids and ended with a ninety-year old man being struck and killed by a motorist.

He posed a question. “What do you call it when you do the right thing but pay a price anyway?”

Two young boys witnessed the old man breathe his last. Their mom had stopped to be a witness. A good Samaritan. Death’s fingers found their way into her minivan and touched her sons. A picture they will never forget. An horrific image.

Collateral damage.

I have often thought to myself, “And that’s the last post on PTSD. Because, seriously, how many more can I come up with?” And then something happens.

“Unintended damage, injuries, or deaths caused by an action…”

Oh yeah. That happens.

Unintended damage.

Death takes one life but touches a sea of others.

Collateral damage.

I’ve struggled to explain what PTSD is like. Or better, what living with someone who has PTSD is like. In order to convey the width of impact it has in our lives as a family I end up sounding dramatic. I start talking about death and destruction and people’s eyes glass over. Who wants to deal with that?

Exactly. Who wants to? But some of us still get to.

And then I back off a little and talk about the affects instead of the causes and I sound like a victim. Look what it’s done to our family? Whine.

So when these two words came out last night as my husband was reliving his day, a light bulb went off.

What do you call it when you do the right thing and pay for it anyway? He was talking about the woman. The good Samaritan. She stopped to help but paid a price. But as he was talking, I realized he could just as easily be talking about himself.

What do you call it when you serve the community and do your job well and you end up dealing with unintended injuries?

Collateral damage. 

May we learn to respond to life’s unintended injuries.

 

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time…

-ReinholdNiebuhr