It’s something that any family member of an emergency personnel fears. That phone call, that car in the driveway, that fellow brother or sister in uniform standing before you, handing you a folded flag, and on behalf of their service thanking you because they cannot thank the one who was resting under that flag anymore. The flag is both a symbol of pride and of dread for every one who’s loved one serves on behalf of that flag.
I remember as a child memorizing the sound of my father’s keys in our deadbolt. Daddy soon picked up that I was listening for him and would even tell me goodnight. I got used to the two beepers on the charger in the bathroom counter. One was his patrol beeper; the other was his SWAT beeper. My father was a patrolman for 27 years, on SWAT for 12 years. He joined at 18 years and stayed in until his failing health forced him to retire at age 57.
The men and women on the force are people I grew up with. I never feared for my father because I knew his team, I knew his partners, I knew they would take care of each other in ways completely beyond most civilian comprehension. And they did. And they have. And they will continue for both myself and my son.
I was more afraid of what it would do to have these people whom I love hand me that flag, then to receive it for myself. But it’s not about us. It’s about my father. It’s about giving him the honor and thank you that he deserves. He earned it.
As the child of a police officer, probably much like the child of a solider, you eventually reach an age of awareness. Mine was when my father came home and had to put that black band on his badge for someone I knew. I was only 6 years old. But no matter how many times he didn’t come through the door, eventually he would. No matter how many runs with a drug bust or a standoff, even my dad’s chase, he came home. Though I always carried the weight that he couldn’t come home. But he did. I was lucky.
It was cancer that took my father. But it was my Blue Family that helped me carry him home.
Thank you to the men and women of my father’s force. Words can never express. Words will never be enough. But the Blue Family knows this already. *hugs*