Updated: Jun 27, 2020
| This is the 323rd story of Our Life Logs |
From an early age, I showed an interest in becoming a police officer, or rather, I became interested in adventure and excitement. The small New England farm town where I grew up in the 1980s was nothing extraordinary—it was one of those places where everyone knew each other and you could leave your doors unlocked—so, most of our entertainment was what my brother and I could create for ourselves. Two of my favorite toys were a police radio and a ride-on police motorcycle that I would use to pretend I was catching robbers. It was a makeshift adventure, but a thrilling one nonetheless.
As I got older, it was apparent that I was street smart, observant, intuitive, but…maybe a bit too brave for my own good. Like many teenagers, I hadn’t yet found my identity and I was desperately searching for it, using these qualities to seek trouble. Eventually, I got back with the program thanks to the stern guidance of my teachers, coaches, parents, and a couple of close friends who never gave up on me.
Let’s fast forward a bit. I sought out a career in law enforcement by majoring in criminology and psychology in college. Then in 2001, I graduated from the Police Academy, officially becoming a police officer. I absolutely found all that excitement I wanted ever since I was a little girl, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Being in my early 20s, I thrived in the fast-paced nature of my job. The urgency of the blue and red flashing lights while rushing to the crime scene satisfied the adventurous spirit within me. I learned to take command of unclear situations, even if that meant I would never really know what was coming next. A simple noise complaint can turn out to be a robbery in progress without the officer knowing until they show up.
After several years of wearing my badge, I began to respond to calls like it was a regular everyday job. There were homes I entered that were so unsanitary that you could not imagine anyone lived there and smells I couldn’t even describe that would make the average person gag. Blood, vomit, urine, dead bodies, it was all just part of a typical shift. The abnormal became normal. Coming upon a scene where people were still fist fighting, blood being shed, hollering, crying was pretty much everyday occurrences.
And then…there were experiences that would never be commonplace. There were heart-wrenching moments when I simply felt helpless. There was real-life heartbreak that I could not fix. I was a young officer with no real-life experience on top of it all. And it changed my heart forever.
The lowest moment in my police career came the day I had to notify a woman that her husband was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident. The dispatcher requested over the radio for me to call in. I knew it was not good if the information could not be given out over the radio. I was informed that there was a motorcycle accident out of state, and the officer had been unable to reach the wife of the man who died. An officer was needed to go to the house to make contact with her. That officer was me.
On my way to the home, the realization of what I was about to do sunk in. I pulled up in front of the house and looked at the long walkway leading to the front door. My stomach turned as I exited the police car. I took one step in front of the other looking down at my freshly polished boots, crossing each large stone that made up the walkway.
Suddenly, there I stood at the front door, aware that my breath was loud and heavy. I slowly reached out and rang the doorbell. A female in her late 50’s opened the door within seconds. There, I stood, a young, unmarried, 20-something cop, about to deliver the worst news of this woman’s life; that her husband was dead.
I never actually needed to say the words. When she opened the door and saw me, she just knew. “He is dead, isn’t he?” She said. All I could do was nod my head.
Stoic, she turned her back and walked to the kitchen. She asked me to stay until someone could come to be with her. Her children were grown and out of the house. She was suddenly completely alone.
No words were spoken, but the room in which we sat told so many stories. The kitchen was a bit outdated, and most likely had never been changed from the days of raising their family. I got the feeling it was purposely kept that way. An attempt to lessen the empty nest feeling; to preserve what once was. Dark wood furniture, faded linoleum flooring, knitted place mats on the table, it was a time capsule from the 1980s. It was cozy, though. You could feel the love contained inside of those four walls.
I held her hand as we sat at her kitchen table, the same kitchen table which clearly once hosted her young family, children telling about their days at school, the crushes they had, and eventually what colleges they would attend. I looked around at the walls lined with picture after picture of their family as they grew over the years. The family she and her husband built together. Baby pictures, first steps, family vacations, birthdays, school events, and eventually teenagers about to embark on their adult lives. It was in that moment I realized that those were the moments in life that truly mattered.
I suddenly longed a family of my own, a husband and children to create those memories. The kitchen, even in the most painful moments of despair, felt complete and fulfilled. Something that death cannot take away. I saw the true meaning of life that day through one of the worst calls I ever had to go on.
From that day on, however, it was not a fairy tale path to get to this bigger dream. I found myself in a bad long-term relationship, trying to make something work that just didn’t. He would often tell me that I was not ready to be a mother, but who was he to make such a determination? He could not have been more wrong. It was simply that he was the wrong person and that I needed more time to grow.
It is true what they say; you will find it when you are not looking. Turns out, the man I would marry and start a family with was under my nose the whole time. We were police officers together, and I always had a little secret crush on him. He was that guy though, the ladies man, the guy who doesn’t settle down. I enjoyed our friendship over the years we worked together, playfully rolling my eyes and chuckling at his single ways.
Shortly after I left the police department to pursue my master’s degree, I received an email from him. “We have to catch up,” it said. We met up for what I thought was just a quick drink to hear all the department gossip. Instead, he was dressed more formal than I expected and he had reservations at a nice restaurant. This would turn out to be our first date, and the rest all just fell into place like magic. We have been married for 10 years now.
After all of these years, I understand now the incredible bond of marriage and the beauty of having a family. As a mother, I have experienced the most fulfilling moments, and also the most terrifying fears. Suddenly, I love my two small humans more than I can even bear sometimes, all while knowing the dangers and horrors that are out there in the world from my days as a police officer.
Our strength has been tested in ways we never saw coming, but the excitement and adventure I have found have made it all worthwhile. The best thing about being a mother is at the end of any bad day, it all gets washed away with a hug from those tiny little arms, and, “I love you, Mommy.”
This is the story of Jennifer Farmer
Jennifer traded in her exciting career in law enforcement and government to be a stay-at-home mother. After a lifetime of chasing excitement, she found that all she ever really wanted was to be a mom. She and her family spend every chance they get camping and being outdoors. In this fast-paced world, she is teaching her daughters to embrace the simple life and to enjoy the silence.
This story first touched our hearts on March 15, 2019.
| Writer: Jennifer Farmer | Editor: Colleen Walker |