Does it ever get easier logging onto social media at the end of the day only to be met with posts from strangers and friends about how much they hate your husband? Does it ever get easier having those same friends and strangers ask you if your husband is in fact “a good one”?
Does it ever get easier hopping in his car and seeing his riot helmet laying on the floor, wondering when the next time is it will be worn for days on end, or finding bullets in the wash and saying a quick thank you that they weren’t used and praying that they never will be? Does it ever get easier getting the call that says he’s being held over late or his days off are canceled with a quick message to give his babies a kiss and let them know daddy loves them?
Please, someone tell me it gets easier.
It’s funny because I used to have an odd sense of calm about his job. I had new wives and girlfriends of officers ask me how I did it every day. How I was OK with this lifestyle and how I get through each day without worry. I would laugh because of course I worried, but to me, he was JUST at work. That’s truly how I felt. Just like everyone’s significant other goes to work, that’s where my husband was, just another day at the office.
Now, what I often push out of my head that his office could be scary streets, a hospital, dark alleys, abandoned houses, or sitting behind a district desk, but those were just details I choose not to think about. Instead, I am a proud police wife. Proud of how hard my husband worked each and every day at a job he loved. Proud that he risks his life to provide for his family. Proud that he spends his days helping others, no matter their feelings towards him.
But that all changed in 2020.
At the start of the pandemic, my husband and his coworkers were hailed as heroes. As the rest of the world stayed home, they went to work every day to help assist in the fight against COVID-19. They adopted new protocols, drove people to hospitals, and blocked off streets for healthcare workers. The stay at home order didn’t apply to their positions and the world saw that and celebrated them. They had food delivered, thank you cards sent, coffees purchased, and recognition as being good given. Then one day, a few individuals made a decision that would forever change things.
No one dislikes the bad cops more than the good ones and their families. I’ve had to say this countless times over the past few months. I sat with tears in my eyes disgusted by the actions of some officers and then became stunned and horrified at what was happening in our world. Officers who were once being thanked for their duties were now being spit on and the hate messages grew stronger and my worries worsened.
When would this get easier? It was early June and what should have been a summer spent together was starting with weeks where we didn’t get to see our guy. Daily protests, increased crime, and a need for more officers on the street became the norm and so the days became weeks where we were barely together for more than an hour or two.
It was during this time I began to feel an increasing need to humanize the badge, or more so, to humanize the person whose badge we stand behind.
Four numbers that identify him and identify us as a now disrespected and hated police family. I packed up anything that identified us as a blue family, flags, decorated rocks, signs, car magnets, etc. I tucked our police shirts into the back of the drawers as we were advised that it would be best not to broadcast ourselves as a family that backs the blue. My heart shattered as I put away a canvas painting my 2-year-old daughter helped us make to recognize one of our own was killed during the line of duty just two months prior to all of this happening. When would things get easier?
As social media became an influx of ACAB (All Cops Are Bad) posts, I wanted to scream, “BUT NOT MINE! MINE IS SO VERY GOOD!” I wanted to write how my guy comes home distraught after a domestic case because no matter how much he tried to convince the woman she deserved better and could get help, she chose to stay. I wanted to tell the story of the night he came home near tears and asked me to wake our sleeping daughter because she was asleep in the same position as the deceased baby call they responded to earlier in the day.
I wanted to tell them that I know this world is so scary and I cannot imagine the fears of others, but that others cannot imagine my fears as well. I wanted to ask them if they have ever been on a call with their husband only to have everything freeze immediately after hearing gunshots and a “go go go” from his partner and then nothing for hours late at night. I wanted to ask them if they every had to think about the fact that their husbands or significant others might not come home because they signed up to do a job where they risk their lives every day. I wanted to ask them when they thought this would get easier. But would it even matter? Would they listen?
I didn’t ask. I couldn’t. Maybe I could, but we stay silent because we are afraid of what people may take from our words.
It became better to be silent about everything because no matter what words we tried to say, they would never be right. Our silence isn’t enough but our words could never truly explain our feelings. I could never put into words how good MY guy in blue was, or how scared we truly are, so instead, I never spoke. And now, months later, we are still faced with messages of ACAB. I am still reading posts that my husband and all those in blue should not have jobs. I am still wondering every second of every day when this will get easier.
I pinned my husband’s badge on him nearly five years ago and there has not been a day that I have not been worried, but I could handle those worries. Now, as our world has changed I can’t help but continue to ask, does it ever get easier? Someone, please tell me it does . . .