We are in San Francisco for Holiday Tea and an overnight stay. I always try to unplug. I tear at the cord. I wrap it around my hands and yank with as much strength as I can muster.
I was doing pretty well taking in the gingerbread house and the holiday wreaths. I stared at all the lights and stood by the enormous tree and smiled for too many photos. At bedtime, I whispered to my daughter as the others fell off to sleep in the other big bed. I was devising strategies to slow her mind down from all the excitement.
Then the sirens started. It was nearly midnight. We were 18 stories up. It was a beautiful clear, cold night. More sirens. I imagined the possible crimes below. The homeless man and woman who had been shot and killed the previous night. I imagined the overdoses. The purses torn from women’s shoulders as they left the theatre. The smashed car windows tourists would find when they returned from dinner. Then I worried for the officers, heading further into the darkness.
I close my eyes. I suck in the air and exhale as slowly as I can. I take in the sweetness of my daughter’s breathing. She is finally in deep slumber. I need that too. The sirens fade off. It has been much harder of late to unplug. Perhaps my yanking strength has dipped.
..But not hope to die. No more. Please no more. My Sergeant partner and I muttered to each other the other day that we didn’t know when and if we would ever get to take the mourning bands from our badges. He told me he was thinking of getting another, a secondary badge, with the black band permanently etched in it. Please no more.
I used to think that maybe the increase in media made it appear that every sex offender who kidnapped children lived in Florida. Or that there are lettuce or hummus or beef recalls every other day.
Maybe all the media made it seem like there were more officers getting killed in the line of duty. More executed. More gunned down as they approached scenes that they were called to help resolve. 137 to date in 2016.
You can’t make this stuff up. It is true. Bad things happen to good people everyday. Are we that different from so many others murdered everyday? Are we not involved in high risk behavior? Are we not the focus of others’ anger, disgust, distrust, damnation? Are we not “the man”, the government? Are we not judged by the worst amongst us?” I can hear the “But we…”now. Are we that special?
Lately, I have felt the angst. The bitterness and cynicism has spewed from me more than ever. I have looked into the eyes of the fallen online. It has been an angonizing time to say the very, very least. I have reached in deep and asked myself if I can be a better version of myself as a peace officer. What would they say if I were gone? If I fall too far, do I not cross to that darker side? Do I lose what makes me just a tiny bit special in my uniform?
Crumpled pages filled with half sentences, beginnings, ends and middles. I have nearly hit Post – Publish so very many times in the last month with pieces about mental illness. About Homelessness. About Addiction. I venture to post and publish my “place” in it. The Peace Officer place. The listening. The watching. The touching. The physical restraint. The fights. The necks lengthened and the feet dangling. Lifeless.
I pretend to know how I feel about it all. I spout my politics mixed with compassion. But I know I can never really “know.” Memories well up behind my eyes, tighten my throat and seize my muscles.
I fear that I will minimize the issues somehow or offend with the humor that comes with some of the interactions. Maybe it is me who is wounded.