Thursday, June 5, 2014

What We Saw

This isn’t the first time I’ve expressed this sentiment. 

That the RCMP is one big family. 

For better or for worse, in good times, and in bad times, the familial bonds that stretch across this country “are strong and they are fierce”. (As quoted by a fellow RCMP wife offering her support to the families of the fallen.)

So when one of ours is hurting, we all feel it.

I know the news reports on what is newsworthy, and a video taken inside a house by people witnessing a police officer’s death, well, it’s certainly newsworthy.  Insensitive as I feel it may be, to news outlets, and to social media addicts, it is both dramatic and compelling enough to have been shared thousands of times.

And I can see why people think it’s ok.  There is nothing overtly gruesome.  Besides the video, simple photos that were posted of the police car with the window shot out.  Or the unmarked car riddled with bullet holes. The many, many photos taken of the men and women huddled, guns drawn, behind police cars.  After all, these are photos taken at the scene of an international news story.

But let me tell you how we, those who have dedicated our lives to loving someone who puts on that uniform day after day, see it.

That car with the windows shot out, that was the car our husband drove by with on a warm summer day, while the kids were playing outside, running through sprinklers and dripping sticky popsicle juice all over the sidewalk. It’s the car that he rolled down the window, called the kids over to say hi, and leaned out for a kiss from his baby girl.

That bullet ridden unmarked car is full of our friends, who heard there was a lemonade stand and pooled their change to stop by and make the neighbourhood kids ecstatic when they got a ten dollar bill.

And those anonymous police officers, risking their lives tracking down a murderous young man with a vengeance, well they are the friends who fill my house with laughter, and love, and babysit my kids so my husband and I can have a date night despite being so far away from family.  They are the people who become so close to our hearts that ‘family’ becomes a much more suitable than ‘co-worker’ or ‘friend’.

And that video. 

That video is the soundtrack to our deepest, darkest fears.  Every shot that rang out caught us in the chest, made us struggle to catch our breath, and broke our hearts shot by shot.

Because to people who see more than the uniform, who see the way their one pant leg gets all short and dorky when they carry their Taser, or how their vest rides up after a few weeks away from the gym, or how they tilt their heads to the side and look up into space when they are receiving a call and you learn to stop talking mid syllable, that wasn’t just a video. 

That was having to witness a family member’s death over and over and over again.

And while you felt like this gave the viewer a sense of how quickly things can happen, it gave us a sense at how quickly our lives can change forever.

So I can imagine you will receive angry letters, and tweets and petitions, and many who will stand up and defend the right to show news in its most raw, unadulterated form.

That’s fine I suppose, it’s all prerogative in the end.

I just wanted you to know what we saw.

To the families, our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers are with you in the hard days to come.