One day a few years ago, I was in the middle of the grocery store with a cart full of groceries when it suddenly stopped working. One of the wheels had gotten stuck, and no matter what I did, the cart wouldn’t budge. I was cursing all over the place and people were looking at me like I was doing this for fun.

Eventually, I gave up and left the cart in the middle of the store to walk all the way back up to the front and go outside to get another cart. I took the new cart back inside the store, found the other cart, and proceeded to switch all of the groceries over to the new cart. The whole time I kept thinking how much I wished my husband had come with me so he could help with this fiasco.

I was finally done and went to check out. I finished loading all of my groceries onto the belt and was standing there waiting in line, feeling extremely annoyed.

That’s when I found out a police officer had been shot and killed in broad daylight, in the area where my husband worked.

My heart sank.

My eyes welled up with tears.

I quickly reminded myself my husband had taken the day off and was waiting for me at home. I breathed a sigh of relief. Still, he was supposed to be at work that day. He worked in that area. It could have easily been him. It made my problem with the shopping cart seem trivial. It was trivial. I couldn’t wait to get home and hug my husband.

My husband is not on the street anymore. He’s still in law enforcement, but he’s a helicopter pilot now. I swear he’s trying to give me a heart attack.

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The thing is, my husband has never been a suit-and-tie kind of guy. I’ve known that since I met him in the police academy. Having been a police officer myself, I get it. I also have a better understanding of the job than most police wives because I’ve done it myself. I know what it is, and I know what it is not.

When my husband became a pilot, people often asked me if I was scared. Truthfully, I’ve always felt he is safer in the sky than he is on the street. And also, he absolutely loves what he does. If anything were to ever happen to him, I would obviously be devastated, but I would also know he was doing what he loves to do.

I don’t really worry about him, but his job has changed my perspective on a lot of things. I no longer get bent out of shape over dirty dishes being left in the sink or dirty clothes being left on the bathroom floor. Those things still annoy me, but I’ve learned to let it go because those things also mean he made it home the night before.

Sure, we still argue sometimes, but we never go to bed mad. I never let him leave for work without telling him I love him and making sure he says it back. I always give him a hug and kiss goodbye even if I’m mad at him. And I always save the little notes he leaves me in the morning, at least until he makes it home safe and sound.

Before I get upset with him over something, I always ask myself if it’s worth it.

Will this be worth it if I lose him tomorrow? Will I look back on this moment and this argument with regret? How would I feel if this was the last conversation we ever had? I bet there are other women who would love to have my problems as long as it meant their husbands had come home to them.

Perspective changes everything.

I’ll never take my husband for granted. I’ll never assume he will always make it home. I’ll never think it could never happen to me. It could happen to anyone. It happened to her.

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A few years ago, at the moment I was finding out it wasn’t my husband who had been killed, somewhere nearby, another woman was finding out it was hers.

That feeling has never left me. That feeling has changed me. And I hope it changes you, too.

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Lauren Dykovitz

Lauren Dykovitz is a writer and author. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two black labs. Her mom, Jerie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 at age 62. Lauren was only 25 years old at the time. Jerie passed away in April 2020 after a ten-year battle with Alzheimer's. Lauren writes about her experience on her blog, Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s. She has also been a contributing writer for several other Alzheimer’s blogs and websites. Lauren self-published her first book, Learning to Weather the Storm: A Story of Life, Love, and Alzheimer's. She is also a member of AlzAuthors, a group of authors who have written books about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Please visit lifeloveandalzheimers.com to read more about Lauren’s journey.