Just the previous night as JD and I crawled into bed, I had told him “I’m so thankful for every night you come home safely.”
“Me too,” he said, and we both drifted off to sleep, side by side.
The next day was Saturday. He got up early to get ready for another full shift, while I stayed snuggled in bed, happy to sleep in (or as much “sleeping in” as I can get with a 1 1/2 year old). He gave me a kiss on the cheek to say goodbye, and I groggily told him to have a good day.
I didn’t hear from him all morning, which isn’t unusual. They had been busy Friday so I figured Saturday was much of the same. L and I left for a baby shower for a fellow officer’s wife, and we happily cruised along country roads, enjoying a beautiful October day, the warm sun, and the contrast of the leaves that had started to change against the perfect blue sky.
My phone rang- it was JD. I was happy to get a chance to talk to him before I arrived at the shower and hear how his day was going.
“Heyyyy” I answered cheerfully.
His voice carried the same adrenaline it had the last time we had a close call. “I just want to give you a heads up, in case there’s anything in the news about an officer getting attacked with a knife. That officer was me, and I’m okay.”
A thousand questions entered my mind, but I could sense he was rushed.
“Do you have time to talk about it?”
“No, but I’ll call you later.”
“Okay, I love you, bye.”
“Love you too, bye.”
And that was all I got. What do you do with information like that? With all of your lingering questions and fears? Do you pull over? Call your mom crying hysterically? Throw up? All of these thoughts crossed my mind, but I’m a LEO wife, which means you just put fear aside and go about your day. You put on a happy face, you take care of your family, and you carry on.
I looked in the rear view and watched L as she looked at a book. Innocent. Unknowing. She adores her father and he adores her. Nothing makes me angrier than to worry that her father will be taken from her and she would have to grow up with out him. There would be no greater injustice than that.
Fortunately, JD was unscathed, but they did send him home early, so L and I got to see him when we got home from the shower. He filled me in on the details. He had been patrolling his beat when he saw an assault taking place. He quickly intervened and the man came after him, taking a swing at his head. Luckily, JD ducked and made him miss, because what JD didn’t realize immediately was that the man had a knife in his hand. He was able to hold him off, and eventually backup arrived. JD’s instincts and quick thinking kept everyone in this situation safe, including the victim who later told him he’d probably saved her life.
It’s moments like these that remind me how real the danger of his job is, that it’s not just hype or drama or anxiety. That there are a million moments our LEO’s face that DON’T make the news (this one didn’t either) but leave them literally inches from harm. It’s terrifying to think how quickly our lives could change, but JD has sworn to me several times that he refuses to die on the job, and he’s nothing if not stubborn, so I believe him when he tells me that.
But it’s not just death or injury that worries me. In light of recent events, I have to wonder what would have happened if JD was forced to take more extreme measures to keep himself safe? What if he’d had to fire his gun? What if that shot had been fatal? What kind of repercussions would there have been then? What version of the story would have made it to the news? How would our family be impacted?
What if? That is the haunting question lingering behind every police shift.