Friday, September 18, 2015

The Post I've Been Trying to Write for a Year

One year ago this morning, I woke up to a text that said, "I'm OK. It's not me." A couple of years earlier after a local officer was shot and I couldn't reach Chris, he agreed to text me if there were any incidents over night to let me know he was OK.  I didn't know what had happened when I woke up on September 18th last year but I knew it wasn't good if I was getting that text. I immediately started scanning Twitter for any news of what might be going on. And then I found it: a car had been swept away in the flood waters overnight and the driver was missing. Based on the location of the incident, I knew his shift had been involved in the search. I just wasn't sure how they were being effected by this.

I finally got Chris on the phone about an hour later and what I heard wasn't good. He couldn't tell me what was going on but he was upset. All I was able to get out of him was someone he knew was not OK. The news finally broke on my way to work that the car that had been swept away belong to one of the sheriff's deputies on Chris's shift. As soon as they said her, I knew who it was. Chris had been telling me stories about Hollis, the deputy who had joined the shift right after the new year. More than 36 hours after she went in the water, the body of Jessica Hollis was recovered from Lake Austin.

The next week passed in a blur. There were meetings and memorials. There was the funeral that was attended by law enforcement all over the state. There were tears, lots of them, from grown men who were broken from searching the woods for their partner in the wee hours of the morning. I just remember feeling an ache that I didn't understand. I had never met this person but her death was effecting my family so profoundly. All I wanted to do was hold my husband and my son tight and pray that I never had to experience this again.

One thing that has stuck with me since the funeral is the words of another spouse from the shift, "It is hard not to put yourself in that tent."

The last year has been especially hard for law enforcement. Many claims of police brutally and the militarization of police. Law enforcement being accused of failing to do their job to serve and protect. Officers being targeted simply for wearing a uniform and doing their jobs. I would never ask my husband to quit doing a job he loves but that doesn't mean I don't worry about him or fear for his safety. I don't want to be Mrs. Goforth. I don't want to have other deputies walk Jackson to school on his first day because his dad can't be there. At the end of the day, I just want my husband to come home safe.