Not long ago I received an investigation to do what was called a wellness check. A wellness check was done in this case to determine the status of a person they were paying compensation to for reasons unknown to me at the time. When I normally get this kind of a case it has to do with a workman’s comp injury and for the insurance company to be able to monitor if the person is still disabled. I was surprised to find on this particular case, this was not the situation.
Let me walk you through my perception and the reality of the case. My perception was the person I would be interviewing would be either elderly or disabled to a point they could barely get around, of course there is always the proverbial scam artist who when I drive up on is dancing the jig in the front yard, (by the way today is St. Patrick’s Day as I write this article).
I went to the front door of the residence, knocked on the door and it was answered by a woman who appeared to be in her mid-30s. She certainly was not disabled and had two small children running around the house. I introduced myself and explained why I was at her house. This woman was very accommodating and allowed me into the house. As I started the interview with this woman, she continued to do what mothers do with children who are five and nine years old; that is, of course, try to carry on a conversation with someone without several interruptions from the children.
She was finally able to get her children satisfied with doing something different and become comfortable with a stranger in the house. As I progressed through the interview and the questions that were given to me to ask this person, I learned something that I must say set me back a moment.
This young mother of two was the surviving spouse of a fellow law enforcement officer that had been killed in another state while performing the duties of law enforcement. While this certainly is not my first time to be presented with the death of a law enforcement officer, it was my first time to get a peek into the life of the surviving spouse. As this woman related her story to me I became even more astounded about the situation of the murder of her husband and how her life had to continue on after his murder.
This young mother’s law enforcement husband had been dispatched to a possible domestic. When her husband/officer walked into the garage of the residence, the suspect, a.k.a. murderer, raised up from a concealed location in the garage and shot and killed her husband. Of course I could go on forever about my thoughts and the dangers of law enforcement work, but I digress.
This young mother continued to tell me how she knew that any time she received a knock on the door and it was the commanders from her husband’s law enforcement agency on the front porch she knew the information would not be good. She stated she then went to the hospital where her husband had already died from the gunshot wound he received that went above his bulletproof vest.
The next part of the story is amazing, sad, and rejoiceful all at the same time. This young mother and her deceased law enforcement husband were expecting their second child. Eight hours after her husband had died in the hospital she gave birth to a beautiful little girl.
As I interviewed this woman. She made it clear that while her husband had been murdered on duty, she still had a family to raise. This woman did not elaborate on how she got through the murder of her husband and the instant responsibility of being a single parent with a brand-new baby. All I really know is at some point she decided it was best to come back to Oklahoma and to her family for the support that she would need to raise her two children.
As I talked to this woman, it was apparent she did not see herself as a victim, but as a single mother raising two children. She was not interested in dating or finding someone as a partner to help her with her children; she had her family for that. It appeared to me she saw she had a responsibility to her two children that outweighed everything else. She could not bring back her deceased husband, she cannot rebuild the life they had but she could raise their children to be strong and resilient.
Now I will get to the title of this article Standing Together. In today’s world there is an embraced insignia that is used to unite law enforcement. It is called the thin blue line. While this terminology has been around for a long time, it has caught on with popularity. There are flags that can be flown showing the thin blue line and numerous other such symbols that are shown as a solidarity for law enforcement.
After I got through with my interview with this young mother, I could not think of anything more important than what I could do for this young mother and her children. Luckily in Oklahoma and in Oklahoma City we have a strong group of surviving spouses and family members of slain officers. These people bond together and become companions to each other in a way that no one can understand unless you’ve walked in their shoes. As vice president for the Oklahoma Sheriff’s and Peace Officers Association. I went to our headquarters office and got what truly was nothing more than a few appreciative trinkets to give to her and her children. I returned back to her house and gave her those items I had retrieved. Some of those were for her and some of them were for her and her children. In my opinion, this woman is an American hero, along with her murdered law enforcement husband.
To those who have never been a part of the law enforcement community, this is the reality of every family of every law enforcement officer. Let me say thank you to our law enforcement officers and God protect you. Let me say to each law enforcement family stand strong in knowing the thin blue line is here for you. It crosses all states, all counties, and all cities. I will end this by saying All LAW ENFORCEMENT LIVES MATTER!