Seconds. How quickly lives change in seconds.
Friends. How many we recognize and grieve with in moments of great loss.
Our close friend was killed today. He was an Illinois State Trooper who died in the line of duty. He and Chris worked at the Madison County Sheriff's Department together. We used to dance in our living rooms on cold winter nights, sharing dinner first each week with them and other friends. Ceiba and Kaylee would play while we all attempted to learn a new salsa step each week. We've spent time together whenever we've been back "home'. They are a family we quickly became great friends with, the guys talking shop and we ladies sharing upbringing stories, meeting at playgrounds with the kids or hunting mushrooms. We've shared birthday parties and new babies, always staying connected through the years, always planning to enjoy trips together or have them visit us abroad when the kids were just a tad bigger.
He was an exceptional officer. He was a dear friend. He was a beloved son, brother, cousin, an outstanding and caring father. He was a husband cherished and loved by his wife more than most I have ever known. He was doing the job he loved, being safe and cautious like he was trained.
It pains me that his life is gone in seconds, because a semi driver lost sight for moment. That someone in a car got pulled over on a Monday morning on their way probably to work and changed the course of so many peoples' lives. I, and many, can replay events in my head and think of so many little things that could have changed seconds in history. But nothing can change the outcome.
My heart completely hurts for his family, for his wife... our great friend, now a widow in her 30s. Their children are four years old and 10 months old, a daughter and son. Already his daughter has said she knows he's an angel in heaven. I cry that someone had to explain that to her. That she can say those words, but has no way to realize how her life has changed. That their children will be told beautiful stories of what an amazing man their father was, but won't be able to remember well and get a chance to know him longer. That they won't get to enjoy the fatherhood he so enjoyed.
I am sad for them. I am especially sad for Sarah. We all, as spouses of law enforcement officers, worry about our officer every... single... day. We worry about the hazards of their job, the situations they'll encounter that will affect them. We all have thought of a day that a uniformed coworker will appear at our door instead of them. Today was the worst day she will hopefully ever experience. Her life and the lives of their children is forever altered. While she will have support and love and a mountain of respect shown, it is she who will feel the depth of his absence. I wish we could all take an ounce of her pain, there are lots of us who would gladly suffer so to give her a moment of peace or rest, but it is not possible.
This week, he will have full honors. Thousands will come to offer their sympathies and respects. The law enforcement community, a small town in Illinois, an outpouring of friends and family will grieve. Flags within the state will fly at half staff. Officers will wear black across their badges. We will all miss him, this week and always.