The morning started much like most for them. He, coming off a twelve hour shift, exhausted, dirty, sore, a full moon to boot… he had been counting the hours until 6:00am, although their paths were crossing as he returned home, as least he had a few minutes with her as she got ready for work, he prayed that after the night he had, she would be in a good mood. He needed her, he needed her understanding, her warmth, her touch, if even for a moment. She had been distant since the shift change to nights, he wished she knew how hard it was for him as well. Give it a few more weeks, he was sure it was just the adjustment that was causing her coldness. He had already decided not to mention his close call, no need to cause more discord over the change in shift, and honestly, he felt his lack of sleep and adjustment was more to blame than the suspect. If he could just get in the door without an argument and get some rest, he knew he would be a whole new man…. again. Just knowing he was off the next two days was more relief than anything. His body was tired. His mind was spent.
She was in no mood nor did she have time to entertain him. She mustered a smile and a hug although she slightly pulled away as he slid his hands up the sides of her face into the back of her hair as he tried to kiss her. “Okay…. Love you! But I JUST did my hair and makeup and no offense, but….you stink. Take a shower and get some sleep babe, call me at work when you wake up”. He noticed the clock and although he felt bad for saying anything he couldn’t help himself. He had felt her distancing herself since he was informed of his shift change. He missed her and he couldn’t escape the clear fact that she was not happy to say the least about the change in circumstance. “Are you leaving early for a reason? I was hoping to have a few minutes to spend with you.” He saw the change in her face as soon as he said it. “I‘m leaving early because I have a job. I sleep half awake and alone, in case you forgot, so I’m not exactly on top of my game at work, not that it matters to you. I’m not leaving early, I’m leaving now so I can try and get caught up since I’m a walking zombie thanks to your new shift, but thanks for your concern!” She slammed the door to the laundry room on her way out to the garage as he sunk into the chair as he watched her go.
The water was almost painfully hot as he rested his forehead on the cool tile as the scalding water washed over his tired body. His mind couldn’t erase her anger. He wished she knew how much he missed her, how he needed her, how he appreciated her taking on this life. He was tired of fighting, tired of worrying about how long he slept, not wanting to miss his call to her on her lunch hour. He couldn’t shake the night before, he knew he was at fault. He should have been more aware of his surroundings, should have had his mind in the right place, thank God it turned out alright, thank God back-up was close enough. It reminded him he needed to spend some time at the range….better worry about that later; it sure wouldn’t go over well at home now.
His bed was calling, his body was finally relaxing, the last of the hot water beginning to run cold as he heard the dreaded sound…. a callout. Well, of course. Still half wet he grabbed his dirty uniform off the floor and hurried as quickly as he could out the door. After several calls about the situation at hand, a domestic gone bad, he tried to call her as he ran hot….. no answer. He left her a voice mail as he headed to location.
Her boss seemed at a loss for words, appearing at her desk. It all seemed like the world ground from her stressed filled, fast paced mill into slow motion, each look and word emphasized, yet somehow inside the most chaotic filled moment of her life. As soon as she saw her boss round the corner to her desk with that look she had, she also saw the her worst nightmare converge upon her as the vision of grey shirts and bronze badges and side arms came into view. Her life flashed before her as she literally saw the line from his “End of Watch” packet in front of her eyes…”Who is your preference to notify you in the event of a line of duty death”….as they both stood in front of her, their eyes red, their tears welled up but being held in reserve for her benefit. The only memory she had of that moment was clearing her desk with one arm and falling into the arms of her husband’s brothers in blue.
It had been the longest 24 hours of her life. The initial realization of it all, the ride to the hospital, her begging and pleading with God to change things…. The denial, the refusal of acceptance… and how dare they, how dare they tell me he’s an organ donor?! Now?! He’s NOT GONE!!! As she sat weeping in her shower floor she felt a little ridiculous, she knew he was an organ donor, as was she… it just seemed so wrong at the time. She wasn’t ready to acknowledge he was gone, it was all too soon. She wasn’t prepared for this, it wasn’t fair. There were so many things she needed to change. So many things she needed to say. Oh please dear God, there are so many things I need to say to him…. please. How can they come in here and talk about cutting him up? Although it was just hours ago, she felt ridiculous now…this is not how she handled herself. As the water ran cold she forced herself out of their shower.
My God, the messages, the voice mails, the texts…. she had no intention of listening to any of it. His parents would be there soon enough and no doubt the battle of how to lay him to rest would begin. She had no doubt that after just two years of marriage, they would have their ideal burial planned for their son. Never before had she felt so insignificant as she did at this moment, standing in their bathroom, the one they fought over so much. Tile; honestly….we fought over tile, she thought. She felt sick to her stomach as the memories of their fights over tile and paint color returned to her. Oh my God, why did we fight? Why did we tear each other apart? Oh how I would give him a square sink and black cabinets now. She scrolled through her phone at the countless messages as his number caught her eye.
“Baby, I got called out, hostage deal. Sounds like a domestic gone bad. Please don’t let that ever be us. I love you so much, God I hope you know that. I’m sorry about the schedule…sorry about everything lately… I just hope you know how much I miss us…. I do, I miss us. I miss you. I’ll call you when I can, sorry I got called out. Hey, at least I’m off the next two days. Maybe we should do something about that, huh? Mmkay, love you…bye”…….
And she was left with that. Forever. She left mad. She left him frustrated. Yes, he had been moody too. He had been short tempered with the change…. But she knew the truth… she let it all get to her. She was mad about it all, she felt neglected, she was lonely, she was tired of sleeping alone. She let him know it. She felt justified. She was his wife and she was left alone. And now…… she was alone, forever. She left him, letting him know she was angry, she left him, letting him know she was disappointed. She knew he loved her….she knew he left knowing she loved him… it didn’t seem to matter at the moment. She didn’t have the chance to fix it…. she couldn’t change it. This was it….. this was her last memory. She knew he would know it was just words…. She knew it was just words….
So why does this seem like forever? This is her forever. ©TPWL