I woke this morning to the news of a complete “daymare”. One I have lived for two years, almost to the date. Two officers were shot in the line of duty. One officer was dead and one in surgery. No, no NO! Not again!
The call came this morning from another police-widow friend telling me that an officer from Unified PD in Salt Lake City was shot and killed. The first officer killed in the U.S. this year. My mind raced and flashed back to the day I got a similar call from my best friend. I was working at the hospital, as a respiratory therapist, doing heart testing on newborn babies. My phone kept ringing in my pocket over and over. I typically wouldn’t answer the call, but it was not stopping. I finally picked up the phone to hear my daughter on the other end of the line asking me why officers were at our home. I told her I didn’t know, but to wait and I would call her dad.
I called Cory and it rang and went to voicemail. I called again, and once more I was sent to voicemail. In 19-years of marriage this was a first! My mind raced and I called dispatch. I told them who I was. I asked why officers were at my home. After a long pause, I was asked to hold. SERIOUSLY?! I have been an officer’s wife for 19-years and have never been asked to “hold” by a dispatcher. I stayed on hold for what seemed like hours wondering what was happening; all the while in my gut I knew something was severely wrong.
In my pocket, my phone kept ringing over and over. I finally answered to hear my best friend, Misty, ask me in a panicked voice, “Nan!! Where are you?!!” I replied, “Misty! I am at work! You know that.” She then bluntly said, “Nan! Cory has been shot and killed.” My mind began to spin, this couldn’t be true!! I just talked to him and told him I loved him. NO!!! I screamed mindlessly and cried so hard. I ran to the other end of the hospital to where my department was. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. I looked up at the television in my department, and there were helicopters over a sheriff’s vehicle. My heart felt heavy and painful, I couldn’t breathe! Please someone help me! NO! This is not real! What is wrong with this world? What is wrong with people?! I can’t breathe!!!
This morning my mind went numb and the tears flowed down my cheeks. I knew this officer’s new widow would feel this way and my heart ached so deeply. I wouldn’t wish this on even my worst enemy. I thought of their children and the devastation of their world crumbling down around them.
My mind again reflected on the many people at my home when I arrived back from work that dreadful day. So many people, people I didn’t even know, all wanting to make things better. I was numb, shocked and completely alone. I felt like the world was racing around me as I stood still, watching it all in slow motion. I sat on the steps in utter horror and complete numbness. “How do I take my next breath? I don’t know how.”
Thank goodness I have a best friend who reminded me today that now I need to see things in a different light. I was reminded I have experience and hope to share, and an endless amount of love and support to give to the families of the fallen.
The “Blue Haven Foundation” offers support for widows and widowers, nationwide, by local widows at the time the officer’s death. Blue Haven provides support during the dark looming days of the funeral, during those moments when you are alone with your new reality, and when the suffocating depression tries to close in and take you. Blue Haven also helps in healing the hearts of the officer’s children; who are simply broken and scared.
People don’t realize that when you lose the person who was your love, support, and protection you don’t feel safe anymore; you feel completely lost and alone. How can that be when so many hundreds of people are surrounding you? Because all you want, all you need, is your normal back. You want to have your safety back. You want your officer back! It takes constant love and support with many millions of prayers. Realizing that your “thin blue line” family across the country is your new “safe,” and your community is part of your new family.
My new “normal”, I am still trying to figure out. I do know that when you have a chance to stop thinking about your own pain and help someone with his or hers you seem to heal. Service is what Cory did his whole life, it was who he was. Now I choose service to find myself again, and hopefully heal. Maybe my new “normal” will show up. I am still stumbling along this new path. I am learning and growing. Most of all I am learning to live again.
I pray in the days to come my heart will find courage to help Officer Barney’s widow and family. I pray I will say the right things and give them even a glimmer of hope; because I know they have none right now. I am so thankful for the sincerely good people who have touched my life through loving service. I am grateful that now, through the “Blue Haven Foundation” I can choose to give back. I choose this foundation as a way to serve and heal hearts with a pure love and true understanding that only an officer’s widow can provide.