Through out my marriage to a law enforcement officer, the one thing I heard most was,
What's it like to be married to a cop? It must be so exciting.
A close second was,
Aren't you worried about him?
Although definitely exciting, I'm not sure I would use that word most of the time. Others pop into my head more prevalently and not all of them are fit for print. In light of the second question, when I look back on the incidents that made me worry most of the situations didn't include imminent death. Body fluid warning slips, beautiful new partners and mental health issues come to mind more readily. One thing I have learned is those not married to officers like to hear the stories from those who are and those that are like to hear the stories to commiserate. Here are a few of the good, the bad and the ugly from my marriage.
Pinning on his Badge
I was finishing my tour in the U.S. Navy when my husband went through the police academy, so I missed a lot of the long nights studying and shear physical weariness that marked the beginning of his law enforcement career. On graduation day, I drove out from San Diego to participate. I was so excited for him. This was a new path and he glowed standing there in his crisp uniform waiting for the ceremony to begin. Tears filled my eyes when they called his name; he walked proudly across the stage and accepted the badge of a police officer. After the ceremony, families gathered while loved ones - fathers, mothers and significant others pinned shiny gold badges on for the first time. My hands trembled as I tried to maneuver the pin through the holes in the front of his shirt. It didn't help that I chose to have ridiculously long fake nails put on for the occasion. I eventually got the badge on and this was the beginning of our law enforcement trip.
My Husband's Beautiful Partner
Although it seems this would not fall under the good category, years of reflection allows me to put it here. Our baby was only a few weeks old and I was severely sleep deprived. My husband worked midnights. Our son spit up on me and I was too tired to clean it very well. Still in my pajamas (I think I'd been in them for several days), I was startled when the door opened at 9pm. My husband walked in followed by one of the most beautiful officers I'd ever seen. She was fit and toned, her uniform was immaculate and her long dark hair gleamed. "This is Julie, my new partner," my husband told me as I stood there holding the baby and our 5 year-old son clutching my leg. In my current emotional state, I just looked at her, mumbled something incoherent and flopped back down on the couch. Now, I look at the situation and know she was a wonderful partner for him. Through the hours of talking, she gave him a unique perspective not only on the job but also on how to deal with a hormone-ridden, sleep deprived woman.
Marc Atkinson's Death
Being married to a police officer is complicated. Being married to a police officer and also working for the same department adds an even more interesting dimension. I had only been on the department for a few months working in 911 / dispatch when Officer Marc Atkinson was shot and killed sitting in his patrol car. From the moment the first call came in to my headset to just after the funeral, I was numb. I couldn't find an explanation or meaning in his death and I was terrified for my husband. If people chose to just shoot officers at random, what makes mine safe? I couldn't bring myself to go to the funeral because I couldn't cope with my own insecurities and emotions. I do regret not being there to support my husband when he attended. I've since been to several police funerals and they still leave an indescribable feeling inside me each time.
My Husband's Ambush