I want to ask him to stay home tomorrow. I would like to tell him to call out sick, or to use a vacation day. Haven’t we already spent too many Christmas Eves and Christmas Days apart? Doesn’t he deserve to spend an actual holiday celebrating with his family and friends?
I could point out that people do not care anymore, that they no longer appreciate him. I could show him an internet flooded with vitriolic comments and threats indirectly directed at him. I might remind him that he leaves the house with an invisible yet glaring target on him now, and how there are evil people who wish to do him harm for no reason other than the uniform he wears. I want to scream that the world has changed, and that I am afraid.
He would rub my back in his automatic comforting way as he told me that he is not the only one away from his loved ones for the holidays. He knows it does not get any easier as the years go by. He might remind me that if he did not go to work someone would go unnoticed, unguarded, and uncared for. He would say that he cannot not leave his brothers and sisters without cover. He would tell me that he swore an oath, an oath to protect even the very people who would see him hurt, or worse.
I want to ask him to stay home tomorrow. I want to, but I cannot, and he will not. I understand that he must go to honor Officers Liu and Ramos, and those who have fallen before them. I know that his word means everything to him, and he will uphold that oath he took. I recognize that far more than being what he does, it is who he is, and that his blood does run blue.
I will not ask him to stay home tomorrow. Instead, come the earlier hours of morning, I will brush aside sleep as he kisses me good-bye (only you never, ever say the word good-bye aloud when your loved one wears a uniform). I will tell him that I love him and ask him to please be careful. He will tell me that he loves me, too, and he promises that he will.
I will go about the day, immersing myself in holiday festivities, and I will try not to worry. I will not be afraid, because that is not how we choose to live. I will see the outpouring of love and support for our law enforcement personnel, streaming across the internet to wash away the hatred. I will believe in people once again. I will trust that the good people who remained silent now speak up and speak out. I will remember that we are not a family of two, but rather a family of thousands.
We will celebrate yet another Blue Christmas…and we would not have it any other way.
(To all of the men and women serving, be it in a police or a military uniform, I thank you. To all of the first responders, the police, the firefighters, EMS, emergency room doctors and nurses, hospital staff, and anyone I may have missed- I thank you for sacrificing your holidays to protect and serve. Please know that there are many out there who appreciate, support, and love you.)