The incessant buzz of the alarm insinuates itself upon my groggy mind, forcing reality upon me. Slowly the room takes shape and yesterday comes rushing back. Jumbled thoughts crowd my head as I struggle to regain a degree of cognizance. The sun is just starting its assault on the bedroom shade with it’s golden fingers penetrating the shadows. I remain motionless for a few moments, reveling in the new day before the feelings of misgiving begin to creep into my consciousness and penetrate my brain. Sleep is but an interruption, a salve that temporarily relieves some of the mental pain that is an integral part of my life. The gnawing in my gut that guides my very being remains just as it did yesterday and every day. There is no escape.
It wasn’t always like this. When I first accepted my position, I was straight out of college. Young single, and confident. Like so many before me, I was going to change the world. I was shielded by the mental armor of youth. Nothing could penetrate it. I was invincible.
I met Kelly at a marathon for charity. We were both runners and shared some small talk as we waited for the starters gun. Conversation came easily and soon we were revealing more about ourselves then we thought we ever would. I asked if she was dating and she said no, so I asked her out. About a year later I asked her to marry me and she said yes. Those first four years together were probably the best of my life. We shared everything, including our love resulting in the birth of two beautiful daughters. I received a promotion at work and she got a job at the girls daycare, so, over time we were able to buy a small house. Everything was positive.
But slowly, life happened. My enthusiasm for my job had diminished, as had a great deal of my optimism. The luster of my profession had tarnished like a coin. Its value remained constant, but it’s appearance had changed. It was becoming just a job. A difficult job. Nothing more, nothing less. Each day very much like the last, running together like water colors, dripping down a canvas. My paradigms began to shift from a quest for opportunity and improvement into ones of maintenance. My motivation changed, placing more emphasis on me and my survival then on my environment. Slowly, my interactions with those around me also changed. I became much more cynical, no longer willing to trust as I once had, but instead, relying more on my instincts. Much of the joy once realized had disappeared, replaced instead with this gnawing in my gut.
I swing out of bed and head for the kitchen and a cup of coffee. Kelly meets my gaze with a tepid smile while the girls fight over the jam for their toast. She looks tired. Tired of the worry and the stress that governs our life. It is taking it’s toll. We no longer share our days with each other. We have recoiled into ourselves, our only common denominator being the girls. She has them dressed and leaves them in my care as she retreats to the bedroom to prepare for her day. I sit at the island and referee the chatter between them. They pay me little attention. I am not surprised as my hours are long and as such, they are often in bed by the time I get home. I would love to spend more time with them, before they are grown and we don’t know each other at all. I will talk with Kelly about that when I get home tonight.
Kelly returns and grabbing the keys to the van, shepherds the girls toward the door, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek and a “see you tonight” before leaving. The house grows silent and I am again encompassed in the solitude, with nothing but my feelings and fears to keep me company. I return to the bedroom and prepare for my day. I shower and get dressed, checking myself in the mirror by the door. I see the same person I always do, except there are subtle changes. The smile I once used with abandon is no longer there. It has been replaced with a hardened look. The eyes are colder now, disguising any joy that they may feel. Stress lines have emerged, making me look old beyond my actual years. Time and life’s trials have taken their toll.
Another day, I think. Another melange of issues and problems to be dealt with. Another day of dealing with the risks and the uncertainly tantamount to the job. Why do I do this I ask myself. Why do I put up with the hours, the danger, and the lack of respect I confront every day? Who would want to willingly subject themselves to the taunts and dangers I face every day? And, of course, I know the answer. It’s because, deep down inside, I still believe in what I do. I still feel I am on the side of right and regardless of the mood of the world around me, I still feel that I can make a difference, even if it is a small one. And when my shift is over, regardless of what you think of me, I am still proud of what I do and what I have done. I’m still proud to be a cop.
“A County sheriff’s Deputy was shot and killed Monday after responding to reports of a person walking with a gun. He got into an altercation with the suspect, 17, and was shot several times, officials said. He was a 7 year veteran of the force and leaves behind a wife and two daughters, aged 7 and 5.”