Yesterday I woke around 4am. I had thinking that wouldn’t stop. I had a personal battle that returned and amazingly chose to wake me out of my sleep.
But the day was turned around as I made pancakes to take to the park with my daughter and granddaughters. It was a positive challenge, getting up making pancakes, preparing for the adventure and arriving. The highlight of my day. Or so I thought. I posted photos to facebook of the sweetest faces after arriving home even before taking a 20 minute nap. The upcoming 10 hour shift probably needed more but that’s all I got.
So, the shift begins. At Roll Call during the briefing we watch a training video. It is a traffic stop made by an officer who gets shot seven times. The suspect gets away but has a collision during chase by other officers and dies. May seem like a depressing way to start your work night. For us, it keeps us on our toes. We discuss things. We try to rid the element of surprise and face the facts that anything can happen, be prepared and keep moving.
The calls went from there…
*A white teen female seen being pulled by a black teen male with a group of black males who had been previously involved in a disorder. The caller a teacher felt the female was in danger. After hearing my description of the female my fellow officer knew where this female lived. We go to do a welfare check. The grandfather answers the door. He says she’s in the basement. There is a child just under two standing on the kitchen table. Grandpa (late 60’s) is unaware as he shows us to the basement. We get him to attend to the little girl first and he sighs, “She’s so busy.” We head downstairs. There are three teen females and four teen males. The smell of incense and narcotics in the air. A fifth teen male knocks and is let in the door…
*Another call is a stolen dog. The caller just knows the neighbor has it. I ask the neighbor if I can walk through her house to eliminate the accusation. She willingly escorts me in and immediately starts ranting and raving about how her rights are infringed upon. Her mother lies in a hospital bed with oxygen tube, never moving, seemingly in a comatose state. I gently ask how her mother is, one because I feel she may not be getting the care she needs, two, because I want to connect with the ranting woman and let her see I’m a caring individual. She literally blows up. I am thankful I have enough forewithall to have turned on my recorder at the beginning of the call.
*It was how hot yesterday? Well, take that heat and stand on burning hot asphalt for an hour directing traffic in a very busy intersection. My fellow officer and I made executive decisions to toss our required hats to avoid heat stroke. It was not the call to be on after sucking down a tall coffee 30 minutes before.
*And the elderly man, who lives by himself, a retired military man, who lost his arm and had just been diagnosed with cancer…the radiation treatments so very new to him. He kept trying to call his son-in-law and he the wrong person answering, he felt like “someone was playing a cruel joke” on him. Even his house number was wrong. So he called 911. After calls to his daughter and son-in-law his clarity returned and he poured himself a glass of wine…his daughter stating they are allowing him to drink now that he has cancer. I fail to see the logic.
*While fueling up, I watch what appears to be a drug transaction meet. I copy down both registration plates. The three go into the station, all to the beer cooler, the one comes back and pays for a Foster, and the other two travel passed all points of sale into the parking lot with 40 ounce beers tucked in each cargo pocket. I move from pumping and towards the truck. I’m certain my instincts are right as it’s narcotics and shoplifting. I walk up to the window, speak and the driver throws it in reverse, I step back and he speeds off. By the time I remove the gas nozzle and get in my cruiser and take off they are long gone. And I want to find them. And I set my jaw and began the calls to the registered owner and start toward the address of the registered owner and I call a fellow officer. He listens and asks “How would you like to help me make a difference in a baby’s life instead.” And there’s no hesitation.
*So I end up at the hotel where an eleven month old baby has been left with a heroin user while his heroin using mother is out…Stripping? Prostituting? The drug using male would not let us know but the indicators were there on both accounts. He had warrants. The mother could not be contacted. The grandmother wouldn’t answer the phone. But the cabinet did. And I waited with this trusting soul for 4+ hours. Cleaning the poop off his little raw behind, dressing his little shivering body, feeding him, singing to him, bouncing and cuddling with him and just 40 minutes before the cabinet came to transport him to the Foster Home…I got him to sleep. I loaded him in the car seat and he woke and looked at me. Unlike a normal baby’s response as they wake to see a stranger, he instead looked at me for a few seconds, sighed and went back to sleep. He turns one next month. He doesn’t crawl, the back of his head lacks the roundness it should…but he can love still…and trust.
One night's shift...so much to process. So much responsibility.
So this morning…after getting to bed at 3:50am, almost 24 hours later from waking up to face my own battles, I get the mail. There is an article someone wants to share with me. It’s titled “The best thing that ever happened to us.” Taken from TheOptimist.com. And it talks of other experiences how they “allowed the traumas in their lives to improve self-perception to newfound intimacy with others, an enriched philosophy toward life and a drive to find meaning and impact through professional pursuits…how this is called PTG…post- traumatic growth.” (written by Andrew Tolve).
I read it and then I write…and I share what I write. To educate. To encourage. To praise a God who allows something beautiful to come from brokenness and strife.