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In Tribute

May 26, 2013

This was sent to us by a subscriber. It is so true. Some of the most caring, understanding, and saintly people I have ever met were the spouses of co-workers.
-J

When an officer dies, the question is always, “did you know him?” Like somehow it can diminish the pain of a fallen officer if you had never met them. As a spouse of a police officer, I get that as well -with an added “did you know his wife?”

My response? Yes. I know her.

I know that she finds herself alone a lot. I know she spends a lot of time explaining to family members, friends, coworkers why her officer husband is not with her. I know when someone asks what her husband does – she may have an alternative answer like “he works for the city (county or state) or “he’s a trash collector,” yet someone in the room always clarifies – he’s a cop.

I know she probably has an alias on her social media profiles in case a suspect decides to find their arresting officers family. I know she’s proud of him and wants to put LE stickers on her car, but won’t because she’s worried about getting runoff the road or targeted. I know she looks into every police car she pulls up next to. I know when he speaks to her in number code, she answers him in English.

I know she cringes every time she hears the words “officer involved,” and hates the words “routine traffic stop.” I know she spends a lot of time defending her husbands career choice and sometimes realizes her silence is necessary. I know the justice system frustrates her, yet she relies on it anyway. I know people feel it necessary to tell her of every contact they’ve had with law enforcement – especially if it was bad, yet never seem to remember to tell her when they saw one doing something nice.

I know she sleeps alone a lot, spends her birthdays, anniversary and her children’s birthdays wishing he were there. I know “date nights” on Wednesday are better than a Saturday every single time. And I know when on that date, he will have to sit facing the door.

I know when they do get a chance to go out, she’ll let him drive so she does not have to hear about her “escape route” or recite portions of the traffic code. I know that he’ll always recognize someone somewhere that he’s arrested. I know they probably have a “code word” that means grab the kids and head the other way… Ill meet you at the car.

I know when her children are little they are proud of their super hero. And as they grow into teenagers, they no longer offer what their dad does in dear that it will make them unpopular. I know high schools boys don’t want to date cops daughters.

I know she’ll find things in her washer that most people don’t have in their home – from blue gloves to bullets – and thinks nothing of it. I know she’s picked a handcuff key out of the dryer more than once. I know she has learned to ignore the smell of his vest in July and buys febreeze by the gallon. I knew her biggest load of laundry is black (or tan or blue). And they’re usually washed separately to make sure that any biohazard he’s come in contact with doesnt end up on the baby’s clothes.

I know she wants him to eat better, but knows a “good day” for him means more than one trip to QT. I know she buys Tupperware by the case to store leftovers in hoping he’ll eat a “real” meal when he gets home. I know she’s watched him age, his hair gray and the sunspots show up on his left arm and neck.

I know she’s had a hard time scheduling vacations because shift change is coming. I know that when one of his brothers is hurt – his vacation time will probably get donated to him anyhow. I know when it’s his regular day off, he will probably still get called into court – even if he worked all night.

I know that a text message with two words – I’m okay – is like a sonnet or love song to most… Especially when we see “breaking news” flash on our TV.

I know that her favorite sounds are the garage door and the sound of Velcro. He made it home safely. And I know she can tell by the sounds of his boots on the floor whether or not to ask how his day was.

And I know that even though she knew his job had a risk, and officers are dying in the line of duty – she never TRULY believed it would happen to hers.

Do I know her? Yes. Have I met her? No.

But when I do – you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

-Natalie Stahl
Glendale, AZ

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