I was getting ready to go to my son’s hockey game and as I was about to throw on my favorite t-shirt, I stopped and read it. I mean really read it, after the news we got today.
And suddenly an avalanche of emotions attempted to bury me in myself.
I began to dig myself out by facing these emotions one by one.
My heart hurts for the most tangible reason. Someone has hurt members of my family.
My soul prays for those who were affected, and desperately hopes they'll be ok.
My mind is flooded with confusion, and unanswerable questions about why, and who, and why, why, WHY?
I’m scared too. This happened in my backyard. This was close. I feel the reverberations of this much closer than ever before. These aren’t aftershocks, this was felt at the moment it happened.
But mostly, I’m so angry, and I’m so tired.
I’m so angry that this keeps happening. And I’m astounded by how much more the anger keeps bubbling up to overwhelm the rest of my emotions.
I’m angry because I feel like this whole world has boiled down to Us vs Them. And then completely by accident, I came across some internet troll’s comments about how we shouldn’t really care that much since it was a police officer and that’s part of their job. And my anger reached the tipping point.
No asshole. It’s not. Protecting and serving is part of their job. Helping people, saving people; even if it’s from themselves, THAT’s part of their job.
Being hated on the basis of what uniform you put on in the morning, and scrutinized unfairly in the media, that is not part of their job.
I’m angry because these cops are people. And in this ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric we are being fed by the media with an insatiable appetite about bad cops, somewhere in the transmission people have forgotten that behind the badge, underneath the Kevlar and the polyester, these are people. The same as everyone else.
He is your child’s hockey coach.
She volunteers as a big sister.
He’s the neighbor that shovels your driveway for you when he noticed you weren’t home.
She’s your best friend who loves the same wine that you do, and needs to commiserate about a shitty day at work, or how hard it is to lose those 10 pounds.
They had lives before, and will, god-willing, have lives after.
He was your elementary school crush who gave you your first kiss.
She was your biggest rival on the opposing high-school basketball team.
He’s the little old man who waves you ahead of him in line at the grocery store, with a knowing smile as your toddler is crying and your preschooler is touching everything and anything.
When did these people lose their lives? Is that now a part of their job? Have we as a society given ourselves the right to take away their lives the moment they pledge to protect and serve?
To lose their lives when they start wearing a uniform, only to go and lose their lives again when someone decides it’s ok to go ahead and take their physical lives as well?
I’m so angry, and frustrated, and sad on a level that makes me feel like a parent watching her beloved child ambling off into the dark knowing there is no measure of words, or tears that can bring them back into the light.
I’m so tired of arguing about whose lives matter.
It’s such a silly point in a world where everyone should matter.
I shouldn’t have to see #policelivesmatter because it shouldn’t be any different than nurses, or doctors, or teachers or lawyers.
I’m tired of a media that turns its back on the humanity of these men and women to report sensationalized stories on mass entertainment scales.
I’m tired of people clicking ‘share’ and ‘post’ in a sublimely irresponsible way to spread hate and ignorance far faster than love and understanding could only wish to go.
I’m most especially tired of seeing a Stetson, and a beautifully folded flag placed into the hands of a devastated woman.
In a world that has proven time and time again, it needs police officers because they do the work no one else wants to deal with, I’m tired of being reminded of the 1% of bad officers who have, undoubtedly, made erroneous mistakes.
But today, as in every day, following the words of an eloquent New York Police officer, I will do it again.
I will slide that red shirt over my heart, I will whisper a prayer that things will change and that my husband will come home safe, and I will hear the sea of voices from the other families and wives who will do the same as we chant these words inside our hearts.
Together we are fierce. Together we are strong. Together we stand. Red Serge Proud.