about the men i love... for the girls that are my world.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What are the odds?

One in 5,500. Those were the odds that we were up against, the odds of a police officer being killed in the line of duty (according to Officer.com, in an article posted in January of 2009). I remember sitting next to Brian, at the end of the year in 2008, for the spousal support class before his graduation. We were seated at the front of the room, and posted above the chalkboard, in a row, were pages printed out from the Officer Down Memorial Page. Each one, a picture and a description of an officer that had been killed that year in the line of duty, since they had started the academy in July. It took me awhile to notice them and to realize what they were. I counted them....I think there were about 60 or so. I remember being worried, and the reality that he was embarking on a dangerous journey with this career, was starting to settle in. But honestly, my fears about him actually being killed were not something I let consume me. Not because I wasn't worried that it would happen, I was. I looked around the room at those 60 plus men and women, I thought about their families, their husbands and wives....did they have kids? It made me sad, but, like probably most other police wives, I thought 'that's never going to happen me. Not MY husband.
Later during the class, what really got my attention was his instructor talking about how the job would change our loved ones. How they, as law enforcement officers, would become cynical, would become stressed from things they dealt with on the job, how things they saw would change them. I started to cry. Brian asked me what was wrong. I told him that I was worried, about him taking on a career in such a high stress, and emotionally demanding job, not to mention the hours that he would work, the family events and holidays that he would miss. And then, of course, there was the DANGER involved in the job. i loved him and I didn't want anything bad to happen. I'll never forget, he gave me a kleenex, put his arm around me and simply told me. "Don't worry, everything will be ok." Brian was a man of few words, most times. But that was all he needed to do or say. And we went on with the class, on with the evening and we had a good time, making new friends.
After he started working, I worried some, but not too much. I insisted that he tell me he loved when he left the house every time or after anytime that we talked on the phone. And he always did. But I didn't overwhelm myself with worry. You can't. Or you would simply never get anything done. You wouldn't be able to function. As Brian was approaching the end of his field training, we had been anxiously waiting  to find out which shift he would be working. I was desperately hoping for him to be placed on first shift. Since I worked nights as a nurse we needed the opposite shifts so that someone was always home for Natalie, requiring less help with her. Not to mention I wasn't crazy about him working at night, for obvious reasons. Most of really bad stuff just happened at night, right?
I will never forget when he called me. I was at work, and of course he had to tease me first, he couldn't tell me what his assignment was right away. When I kept asking him if he was going to be working first shift, he just kept saying "Hmmmm....I'm not sure." He couldn't pass up an opportunity to aggravate me. Classic Brian :) Of course he eventually gave me the details. And I was so relieved. Things would be perfect, he would be working first shift. This would be best for Natalie and I wouldn't have to worry about him so much. I mean, what's the worst that could happen during the day, out in the county, right?
Boy, how naive was I? I had no idea that we were about to win the worst lottery of our lives. And all because of someone else's evil, selfish, pointless actions. Sometimes it is still hard for me to wrap my head around the reality of what happened to him. Hard to believe that he really is gone. 26 years was far to short of a life for him. Unfair, hardly describes it. I miss him so much and think about him all the time. And I thank God everyday that, although he only had 26 short years here on earth, 8 were spent with me. And I thank Brian for teaching me so much about marriage and what kind of wife I want to strive to be, making me a mother, and loving Natalie and I unconditionally.
I only had 8 years with him, but now I have 8 years worth of memories, and looking back, I wouldn't change a minute of it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

just the beginning...hold the mayo, please

Photo by Travis Heying
After much thought and repeated nights of mulling over the same things in my head again and again, I have decided to record my thoughts and memories down. I don't know that anyone will care to read what I have to say, and I can guarantee that it will not always be grammatically correct, not everyone is going to agree with me and I will surely ramble at times, but none the less, here it is.
This is for my girls.

I have been finding myself very nostalgic lately. Not sure if it's the fact that I just had a baby, and hormones are still somewhat on overdrive. Or, if it's because my "big baby" will be turning five next month and is growing up all too quickly.
Since Brian's death, many dates and anniversaries are trigger points for heavy emotions. And most are dates that no one else would ever even think of...
Natalie's birthday has been a hard one. And as her 5th birthday approaches this year, I can't help but realize that she has spent as much time in her life without Brian, as she did with him.
It's funny the older she gets the more and more I see Brian through Natalie. Last night, after dance class, we went out to Braums for cheeseburgers. We rarely eat fast food, but I assumed she still liked cheeseburgers. When we sat down to eat, she proceeded to disassemble the sandwich and pick all of the cheese off. She informed me that she "no longer cares for cheese on her burger." Ok, I thought, no big deal...but then it occurred to me that as her taste buds have been becoming more and more refined she has become more and more like her father. No loner will eat ranch dressing (what 4 year old doesn't like ranch) or mayonnaise on anything, and prefers BBQ sauce over ketchup, and strawberry sauce on her ice cream over chocolate. Just like her dad. I don't know why it surprises me, she is half of him, and I know they are just small things. But it makes me smile, because those are things she never would have remembered.
The older she gets the more she amazes me. I can't believe that she will be starting kindergarten next year. I learned of her acceptance to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton yesterday. I can't wait to see her in her jumper and am so excited for all the joys that lie ahead in her school years. Then it dawned on me, as it always does, that Brian won't be here to watch her walk in on that first day. And this will only be the first of many "firsts" that he will miss. He won't be here to see her loose her first tooth, her first driving experience, her first date, graduation, ect. I could go on and on. And it makes me angry, sad and angry. I know people are only trying to make you feel better, when they say, "he will be there...he will see her.....he's always there, watching over you both." And don't get me wrong, I do believe that he is always here, watching over us. But it's not the same. Because he's NOT REALLY HERE.
But when it overwhelms me, I try to take a step back and think of all the blessings that Natalie and I have. What a blessing she is to me. And although I know that she and I have been robbed of so much, we are blessed with more. I am so thankful that Natalie is here, that she had the time she did with Brian. Thankful that she now has a father figure in Derek, whom she thinks of as a dad and he treats her as his own. Thankful that Natalie and Kate have each other, I always wanted a sister. And thankful that Natalie has no memory of September 28th, as where I can recall almost every minute of that day.
The other day, one of Natalie's friends was over and they were looking at the pictures in the hallway... there are several of Brian and I with Natalie as a baby. When Lauren asked Natalie "Who is that your mom is with? One of her friends?" Natalie replied "That's not her friend....that is MY DAD." And then she smiled and says "He's not here, but he watches me from heaven." They did not know I was in the other room, listening, holding back the tears. But all I could think is that I am so proud of her. I know that God has big plans for Natalie. And I find strength through her, everyday.