Earlier this month, we had the opportunity and privilege to attend this year’s Policeman’s Ball. (Also widely known as Police Prom). It definitely felt like prom. Me and my girlfriends would chatter about it every chance we got.
Hair & makeup done. Jewelry. Fancy dress. New shoes.
It felt great to get jazzed up and leave the house on the arm of my handsome husband. We joined 700 other members of the Blue Family and we talked, ate, drank and danced the night away. It was a good time with good people, but there were also some heavy moments.
2016 was a hard year for law enforcement. I experienced a whole new level of anxiety as I watched city after city report the end of watch for their fallen officers throughout the year. Almost every circumstance was shrouded in hatred and disregard for the men and women in blue.
As we watched a slideshow on these heroes, I couldn’t help but join in with the sniffles that were echoing throughout the room. The lost faces flashed by with their legacies following. There were far too many to keep track. The hardest part is seeing the photos of the spouses and loved ones during the funerals. I feel like I can speak for everyone in that room when I say that it’s impossible not to insert yourself into those pictures. What if that was my husband’s casket? What if it was my partner’s? My best friend’s? How would I handle it? How could I go on? I was forced to relive some tough memories.
For example, last May my biggest fear was exemplified. I will never, ever, forget that day…
We had just learned of our baby girl’s heart defect and I was collapsed on the couch in a defeated stupor. My eyes were on the TV, but I wasn’t seeing anything that was playing. I don’t know how much time had passed since we walked in the door, but I heard Jacob in the other room urgently scrambling around. I heard the buzz of muffled voices and static on his radio, the clanging of handcuffs on his belt, the stomp of his boots, and the sound of Velcro as he hurriedly adjusted his vest.
Everything was a haze. I wasn’t even alarmed. That is, until he leaned over me to say he had to go with a quick peck on my cheek. I propped myself up in time to see him take off in a sprint out the front door and towards his police car. My heart was beating hard and fast. Me and my baby bump leapt up to follow his footsteps. I had never seen him in such a rush. I began to sob as I watched him peel out of the driveway and accelerate down the road, lights flashing and sirens blaring. I was so confused. The unknown was crippling.
I found out later that one of our own was just shot and Jacob was rushing to the scene, which happened to be near our house. The officer was in critical condition. It was something that I never thought could actually happen. This is my home. These are my people. I thought it was impossible, despite the reminders from all over the country. I will forever remember the broken look on Jacob’s face when he walked back in the door that afternoon. I was clueless on how to react. Do I run crying into his arms? Do I ask him about it? Do I hold him and comfort him? We ended up sitting next to each other in silence until he couldn’t take it anymore. He said, “I can’t just sit here.” Then he left for the hospital only to come back that same night with one less friend.
These are the types of memories that came flooding back at the Policeman’s Ball. I looked around and saw faces that were directly affected by the lives lost. All relinquished too early.
These thoughts leave me tangled in a web of pride and sadness. I want to remember and at the same time I want to forget. For me, that was what the event was all about. It was a time to come together and show our pride and respect. To remember. The sadness was felt by all, but we shared a toast to those fallen and those who continue to protect us.
Then it was time to let loose. We enjoyed excellent food, turned up the music, and let the drinks pour. I saw the kindest and bravest breakin’ it down on the dance floor. I saw warm embraces and wide smiles in front of flashing cameras. There was so much laughter, friendship, and love.
I am so proud to be part of this family. I don’t know how I got so lucky to be a part of it. Maybe it’s coincidence, maybe its something more. Either way, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing because this life has made me strong and given me some of the most solid & beautiful friendships that I’ll ever know.
Even though we may not be bulletproof, we know that in this family, no one fights alone. We back the blue.