Apr 1 2013

Things Change…

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Hey! Remember me?

I know it’s been awhile.

Believe it or not, I ran out of things to say. At least things I thought would actually be coherent. So, I dropped off the blogging grid. Took a hiatus. But I’m back. And before I go any further, it needs saying that I’m not guaranteeing coherent or profound. Just for the record.

The last year of blogging has been relevant to the law enforcement life. As the wife of a CHP Lieutenant, and writing a novel based on law enforcement PTSD, the topics that sprang to life for me revolved around those issues.

But things change.

My husband officially retired after almost thirty years. We moved from civilization to rural America. We remodeled a house and now we are leaving on an epic adventure. The law enforcement life seems like a distant memory. In some ways, I think that’s for the better.

I am proud of the service my husband gave and the support we were able to give him. His was a noble profession.

But things change.

I had a conversation with a friend today about the life of a professional sports player. They make a ton of money. But they cannot last for thirty years. The smart ones plan ahead. They sacrifice in the moment. Bring home the bucks. Then they buy a car dealership and give up the physical abuse on their bodies.

While a career in law enforcement is not technically lucrative, I think there’s a parallel. There’s a large probability of injury running the gamut of paper cuts to fatal shootings and everything in between. A cop puts their body in harms way to put food on the table for his family. And, the smart ones plan.

You will not be a cop forever. Just like you can’t pitch a ball at 90 miles an hour forever.

Things change.

We didn’t buy a car dealership. Just a small ranch in Nevada. And my husband planned. He invested in himself and his family through the course of his career. After thirty years, he still has a life to lead. His identity is his name, not his ID number. His value as a person isn’t reflected in his annual reviews or his ability to do his job. His value as a person is reflected in the faces of his friends and family.

So we are going to take a sabbatical. An adventure to see the unknown. We’ve never been to Europe so we are going. Being associated with a badge number for thirty years is enough to change a person and the people around them. But it doesn’t have to define them.

It’s just a number.

Because after all, things change. Even numbers.


Dec 6 2012

Platform 9 and 3/4

“The Sorcerer’s Stone” Platform 9 and 3/4

Oscar Wilde once said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” I think that might be one of those chicken versus egg kind of questions. You know, which came first? But in this instance, I believe Oscar is right.

The other night we were watching the first Harry Potter movie (The Sorcerer’s Stone.) I think it’s safe to say that we view art through current circumstances. And in this case, I couldn’t help but feel as though that movie was imitating our life. Or our life is currently imitating that movie? Was it the chicken or the egg?

Anyway, we had grown quite used to living under the stairs. We were accustomed to meeting the expectations put upon us by ourselves and others. We followed the rules. And then something changed. An invitation of sorts.

We accepted the invitation. It meant David retiring and us moving out to the country. We made our way to the train station and stood perplexed at our ticket. There is no Platform nine and three quarters. Now what?

Oh! We run full speed ahead straight at a brick wall! Of course! Why didn’t we think of that?

Leaving behind all that we know, full speed and unlimited internet, the camaraderie of the department, and the security of a schedule, to name a few, has left us running at a brick wall. But we are running. Full speed ahead. Uprooting or making a change of any kind feels like running straight at a brick wall somewhere between platform nine and platform ten and hoping not to splat.

And it isn’t the first time we’ve done this. I remember  when David was diagnosed with PTSD and it felt like we were running straight toward  a brick wall. No idea what was on the other side or even if we would make it to the other side. But we ran. We ran toward help.

We made it through the brick wall and found help. And that helps us believe. It helps us believe that this time, what lies on the other side, is a magical place beyond our wildest dreams.

Reality check. Perhaps we won’t see that this side of heaven but maybe we will find an adventure. At the very least.

Are you running at a brick wall too? What do you hope to find on the other side?


Nov 8 2012

The Invisible Blue Line

There isn’t a gold star pinned to my chest or a gun at my hip. I don’t carry handcuffs with me (although I have thought about it. Having three kids and all.) No one has ever died in my arms. I have never had to pick up a detached limb off the freeway.

But, I am part of the thin blue line.

The invisible part.

I am proud of my husband and the career he chose. He demonstrates honor and courage and compassion. But it’s not just him. Being married to a first responder means that I am called to demonstrate the same.

I am part of the thin blue line.

The invisible part.

I listen to stories. Comedic and tragic. I wipe tears and return smiles. I am a confidant, a cheerleader and a counselor. A partner.

I am part of the thin blue line.

The invisible part.

I don’t wear the uniform and I don’t see what he sees. But I am not numb to what he feels. The burden of the fatal he dealt with is shared. I’m not pretending to have experienced it. Not in entirety. But I do feel it.

I am part of the thin blue line.

The invisible part.

In a few weeks, my husband steps away from the thin blue line. But one cannot escape thirty years of experience. It is impossible to step away from the memories and the events. Those are the things that define him. He will still be courageous and full of honor and compassion. It has never just been about the job. Regardless of the uniform he wears or the title he carries, those are all parts of who he is. Parts that make up the whole.

And what will I do? I will continue to listen. To wipe tears and share smiles. I look forward to still being a confidant, a cheerleader, and a counselor.

I will always be a partner.

He will no longer be a police officer. The uniform will be retired. But the thin blue line cannot be erased fromour history or from our hearts. It will forever be a part of who we are. Only it will now be…

the invisible part.

 


Oct 25 2012

The “R” Word

There are many words over the course of a lifetime that are monumental.

Marriage.

Children.

Moving.

I’ve done all of those. Some more than once. And true to form, each time was monumental. My life changed forever.

I remember.

Right after I graduated from high school, I chose to live in Central America for nine months. (Long story.)

“You will never be the same.” Several adults said to me before I left. They would look beyond me. A far off expression in their eyes. Like they could see into my future. Or maybe they were looking into their past. Either way, it creeped me out a little and I grew tired of hearing it.

I remember.

I resigned myself to a smile and nod in response. What does one say to that? It sounded more like a sentencing of sorts than “Bon voyage and God-speed.” I dismissed it. (Eighteen year olds are extremely gifted in that regard.)

And I left. Nine months later, I came home. A different person. A gestational period of change. I grew up, slightly. I burnt rice, horribly. I gained weight, understandably. And I changed, unavoidably.

I could not be the same. Or at least, I could no longer view the world the way I had before. I lived with children who suffered from Malaria and gun-shot wounds. Men and women in their thirties who looked twice their age. The ravages of survival etched in the many lines on their faces.

I remember.

That was a long time ago. I’ve married, had children, moved. More people are added to my world. A spouse, a child, a neighbor.

And each time, I’m changed.

I remember.

And now? Now, we are on the verge of another monumental word.

Retirement.

My husband is ending a career in law enforcement. We are moving. Saying good-bye. Bon voyage. And I have to remember the past to gain the strength to look toward the future.

Today especially has been stressful. So many unknowns. Will everything work out with the house? Will it close escrow in time? Can I survive living forty minutes from Starbucks? What will our lives look like?

Unanswerable questions that swirl around in my mind like a storm, attempting to destroy whatever it touches.

So, I remember. Monumental has come and gone. I’m still standing. And not alone. A spouse, children, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Familiar faces cross my mind and touch my heart.

I’ll never be the same.

And I remember.