At approximately 4:43AM, I woke up in a sweat from the sound of a “gunshot.” I think a branch just hit our tin roof, but in that moment, in my nightmare, Randy and I were being shot at while we ate breakfast at one of our favorite local spots. In my nightmare, I begged him to not stand up when we saw the bad guys coming because they might see his badge and just start shooting. And in my nightmare, that is exactly what happened.
Randy had already left for the gym this morning when I woke up. I called him to make sure he had locked the front door. And he reminded me where his gun was and gave me a quick safety schpill. Y’all, I literally crawled out of bed and snuck down the hall (no gun in hand) to check the door. And I closed the blinds and did not go back to sleep.
I am used to the restless nights of restless sleep. But they happen on the other side of the bed. I am used to hearing about the “shoot em’ up” dreams, not telling them. I am used to this life of not sitting where I can see the door so that he can, of having an exit plan, of always being ready. I am used to this way of life because it is what HE needs. Not me.
11 Line of Duty Deaths in 8 days. The latest death happening not an hour and a half away from home, a 24 year old officer, married 4 months ago, responds with his partner to a suicide call that turned into an ambush. Two officers were ambushed in their barracks last week, one succumbing to his wounds.
And I am sitting here wondering what brought this nightmare on? I am wondering why my brain is on obvious high alert? We are living in a war zone, people. WAKE UP. We are living in a world where we have stopped paying attention to the news. We are ambivalent to what is happening to our neighbors, our countrymen, our heroes.
I quoted the Line of Duty Death stats to a friend yesterday and his response was “It’s scary that you know those numbers.” It’s scary that you DON’T know them. It’s scary that we are living in a day and time that we only pay attention when the crime occurs close to home. It’s scary that these Line of Duty Deaths are becoming common place and passé in our news cycle, IF they even make the news cycle.
Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power, and of love, and of a good mind.” I send my LEO out the door every morning, clinging to the promises of my sweet heavenly Father, knowing that He gave me a good mind, that He does not give fear to me, that He is faithful. I pray every morning that God will put a hedge of protection around Randy and every LEO as they serve as peacemakers, as guardians and protectors.
And yet, the nightmares don’t just belong to my LEO. The reality of this job, is that we are taking on this burden as a family. Randy isn’t the only one who feels the depth of the grief when one of our Blue Family lays down his or her life in service to their community. My heart aches for the spouses who have lost their partner, for the children who have lost their hero, for the parents who are burying their child.
So, while the grief runs deep, I am challenging myself to not allow the fear to run anywhere but away from me. The battlefield is at our front door. And our LEOs answer the call every single day. As do our kids. As do we. Yes, the reality of this life is heavy and scary. It can be overwhelming. It takes a toll on each member of our family, both blood and blue. And whether we dwell on it consciously or subconsciously, the fear can creep in when we least expect it. Don’t live with that fear. And don’t try to handle it alone.
For all the hardships that come with the LEO lifestyle, the “normal” that only we understand, the most beautiful part to me is the family we gain. Learn to lean on each other. Learn to share your fear, while accepting the reassurances and love that comes your way when you do. Because in the sharing and the accepting, there is peace and in the peace we find a Savior who did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and sound mind.