shadows and sirens

My husband is in law enforcement. For a season, thankfully a short season, he worked what is called swing shift. He would go to work around 3 in the afternoon and work until 10 or 11 at night. The office he worked out of during that time happened to be fairly close to our house and on a few occasions, he could join us for dinner. It was almost a drive-thru scenario. I had to time dinner just right so that he could eat, or inhale, and head back out.

The children however, could not be bothered with a task as mundane as eating. Not when daddy  stood before them in the middle of the kitchen in full regalia. Shiny bits of brass. All kinds of unexplained things hanging from his waste and the radio attached to his lapel squawking unintelligible things like a parrot. Fascination read all over their tiny faces. They were starving a few moments ago but now dinner can wait.

When he would leave for work, they saw him in jeans and a t-shirt. This uniformed man before them who looked like daddy was an enigma. And attention must not be averted for one second.

This ritual concluded with us walking him out to the car after our fifteen minute “family” meal. Our youngest son was about five years old. As soon as we were in sight of the car we would hear, “Turn on the lights daddy! Turn on the lights!” Shiny buttons and talking black boxes had nothing on the lights and sirens.

Fast forward five years. We were on our way home tonight from a little league game. We won by one run. A real knuckle biter. Ice cream was in order to celebrate. Fifteen minutes from home, ice cream half eaten, we come around a corner and we have no choice but to drive through a debris field. Stuff is strewn all over the road. A car had rolled across our lanes and careened off the embankment, leaving a large arching path of scraps in their wake. It must have happened only a few moments before we got there.

Daddy who had been following us home, turned around and was the first person at the gruesome scene.

Daddy breaks formation and the car goes silent. The lights and sirens mean something different now to my children. I can’t tell you when the change happened. But it did. The excitement of a little boy’s face at seeing the clean uniform and bright lights has been replaced with deep concern.

I don’t share out of regret or remorse. I’m proud of what my husband does. But this is our reality. The shadow of death sometimes invades our celebrations and may even follow my husband home. It doesn’t distinguish between cop or victim. And it is not partial to age. I can feel it tonight.

It’s not “Turn on the lights daddy!” any more. Now I hear, “Can we pray for those people?”

“Even thought I walk thorough the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

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6 Comments on "shadows and sirens"

  1. Judi Gavia
    05/05/2012 at 9:43 am Permalink

    Amazing word picture of this heroic reality! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Linda Sommerville
    05/05/2012 at 10:35 am Permalink

    Rebecca, I’m sorry that you have to live with the shadow of death. But I’m so grateful for your husband’s heart to serve and protect – his is not a career, it’s a calling. He is a godly warrior and I’m praying God’s protection over him today. And I love the way his calling is leading your children to spend time on their knees with their heavenly Father.

  3. rq-admin
    05/05/2012 at 5:13 pm Permalink

    Thank you Linda for your prayers and support. And for the perspective..”his calling is leading your children to spend time on their knees…” Wow! Yes and amen! May it ever be so!!

  4. Teddi Deppner
    08/05/2012 at 8:23 am Permalink

    How you can bring me from the wonder of childhood to tears and prayer in the space of 500 words is amazing, my friend. You are SO called to write. (Yes, I know you know that, but it’s fun to slip it in here and there.)

    Thank you for the reminder that life is more than ice cream and baseballs games. Even here in America, people deal daily and unexpectedly with life and death. May we learn to respond quickly and with confidence, knowing that no matter how gruesome the scene, God is with us and He will sustain us and our families.

    May prayer for strangers rise from our lips every time we hear a siren and angels speedily go forth to minister to all concerned.

  5. Betty Price
    09/05/2012 at 10:29 pm Permalink

    Love this! 🙂

  6. Ardyth Dietrich
    14/05/2012 at 11:04 am Permalink

    You have moved me to tears….what a blessing to have you as a daughter-in-law.

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