Growing up, I could never have imagined that I would one day be married to a walking badge in polyester black. No, the silly games I played pointed to my future husband as a banker or a doctor, someone who made a decent living working a “normal” job like everyone else.
I guess I wore those same rose-colored glasses as I imagined and planned out dinners at 5:00 PM each day, holidays with family gatherings, spur-of-the-moment get-a-ways, sleeping blissfully in my lover’s arms at night without a care in the world, and a “Better Homes and Gardens” type boudoir with not a stitch out of place.
What I received? I received the polar opposite of my imaginary dreams. I married a police officer… a human target for hatred, bias, and revenge and a buffer between good and evil.
I received countless unknown dinner times with food cold on the stove two hours later; holidays and special occasions as a single parent due to last minute shift changes; plans a year in advance only to be yanked because someone fell ill or got hurt on the job. And the boudoir? Ha! I’m doing good when I get the bed made before I go to work, as I never know when he is going to be in it asleep after a long call out in the middle of the night—gun, handcuffs, bullets, notepad, and pocket knife laying haphazard on the nightstand or bathroom sink; a solemn reminder of the danger he faces.
I married a police officer… a human target for hatred, bias, and revenge and a buffer between good and evil.
But I also received a man who has a heart the size of Texas, even to the extent that he would hop on a plane and travel to Orlando in the days following a horrific mass shooting, just to comfort his fellow officers dealing with so much sadness and struggle.
Being the wife of an officer can be one of the most challenging occupations. Yes, I call it an occupation because it becomes your life. Officers are on call 24/7, whether you want them to be or not, and so are you, their spouse.
As I sit here thinking back over the recent events in Dallas and Baton Rouge, I am shaken by the thoughts of my “sisters” who lost their husbands at the hand of a cold-blooded killer. It is the greatest fear of a law enforcement spouse. That knock on the door telling you he won’t be coming home. Things will never be “normal” again for these special ladies… if we can even call police life by that title—normal.
No, this occupation has its risks—great risks, but even so, most spouses of officers will tell you that it’s worth it… every bit of it. There’s a certain swell of pride within us that cannot be overshadowed by any negativity or hatred that this world sometimes dishes out. We know who the real men (and women) are behind those badges. We understand the sacrifices they make.
Not a day goes by that our officers’ eyes are not continuously scanning the crowds in movie theaters, concerts, and even at church. Before long, you as the spouse begin doing the same, imagining what action might be taken in case of the “what if?”
In restaurants, the wife of an officer knows her place. He sits with his back to the wall, eyes facing the door and she in front of him. Some might say his actions seem ridiculous or even cold, yet he will be the first to react if a gunman should enter. For me, I know there is no safer place to be.
The man I married will drop everything at a moment’s notice and slip into that uniform and be out the door in a matter of minutes in order to help his fellow brothers and sisters, or someone in need. He doesn’t give a second thought to what color or religion, ethnicity or identity, but lives to serve, and does it well.
My officer has held countless hands of the dying, comforted the grieving, mowed lawns for the elderly, played with children whose drug-addicted mom or dad sat behind cold bars, continued to check in on the mother of a child who accidently hung herself in her grandparents’ front-yard tree, and calmed the fears of a woman seeing demonic beings on the wall behind him.
He doesn’t give a second thought to what color or religion, ethnicity or identity, but lives to serve, and does it well.
These are the things the general public doesn’t know about my officer or any of the others out there. They only see what the media wants them to see, not the people—the hearts behind the badge.
Thinking back to my dreams long ago, I see that I sorely short-changed myself. What I conjured up in my mind was a man. What I was given was a hero!
To all police wives out there… you are blessed! Keep fighting the good fight.
By Kristi Neace