Last night I went to bed as scenes unfolded in Dallas. I knew, based on what I’ve done in the past, that if I continued to watch it I’d be up all night. I’d end up in a Twitter war, become irrational and emotional; I didn’t want to be that person. I try so hard to walk the line, to see both sides, to understand both sides, not to judge. It’s hard.
I know you’ve heard it all before; I know you’ve read stories by police wives. I’m going to tell you again, and again, and again. I don’t believe I’m a victim because I’m the wife of a police officer. I never thought I had a target on my back; I always believed in the essential good of people. That we all believe in each other. That we can see beyond color. Color of skin and color of uniform. Some days it’s really hard to continue to believe that. But I try.
On May 22, 2016, the wolf came to our door. Officer Ron Tarentino was shot and killed just a few miles from our house, and it changed me. It silenced me. It was too close to home. It could easily have been my husband or his friends. It’s easy to watch it happen across the country because we think it will never happen here. But it did. And now it happened in Dallas to an extreme extent. Five dead, six injured. And I don’t know why. Is this what we’ve become? An eye for an eye? Killing innocent officers for the perceived sins of another?
People don’t always understand our feelings and emotions. Imagine you’re on a baseball team and you’ve been playing for that team your whole life and one of your teammates dies. Your whole team mourns. Now, imagine that team has to play in a different city in the US every single day but you don’t have enough players, so you recruit them. You become friends, you wear the same uniform and you are out playing every day. It’s a hard game, it’s tough, and added to that–you’re being watched. You’re being judged. The fans cheer and they boo. Then another member dies. And a bigger team mourns. A team across the nation. Imagine if someone stood in the stadium and started killing your team. And I know you can imagine that. I know that black people can imagine that. If you can imagine what it’s like for the black community to feel the death of a black person you can imagine what it’s like for the law enforcement community to feel the death of an officer.
So I went to bed last night. And I woke up. I turned on my phone and I raced to the TV because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Everything you read on Facebook is true right? I hoped against hope that this time it wasn’t. I sobbed and felt like I was going to vomit. Once the feeling of wanting to beg my husband to quit his job passed, I got myself together and headed to work. As I left he said, “Don’t get yourself all worked up, it’ll be fine.” Male bravado. I don’t know if I believe that anymore. I know there are a few tall buildings around his police department. I know that a sniper could pick him off on the way into work. Irrational? No, it has happened.
I knew that when I arrived at work one of the women I work with would come over and say “I’m sorry for your loss.” She does it every time an officer is killed. And I thank her, thank her for her profound understanding. And I will sit and watch and listen as people go about their days and wonder, do they know? Do they know that it’s more than an officer’s life? Do they know that so much more is at stake?
Then the fear, the frustration, and the helplessness set in. I have friends in the area, but as much as we’re on the inside we’re on the outside too, in a way. It didn’t happen to our immediate family. It didn’t happen in our department. We don’t want to intrude on their grief, yet we want to share it and try to help heal them.
We let them close their ranks. We let them love and support each other, we let the local organizations counsel them, we send them as much love as we can in the mail and on the internet and we wear t-shirts. Because that’s all we can do. We’re not expected to protest; we’re supposed to be better than that. We’re held to a higher standard. Even though our team is suffering, we have to stay here and go back on the field and we have to keep reminding people that we’re human too, and that the officers and the families left behind after these deaths will suffer in ways you can’t imagine. We will walk out onto the field with our heads high and our hearts low. We will always be reminded that we could be next. We will know that the wolf is at the door and we can only hope to keep him on the other side.