Losing one of your "own", a fellow officer, is very difficult. Even if you knew it was coming sooner or later. If officers die during active duty, they are usually always young. This time, again, it was a friend...a friend who was a very special person.
At a quick get-together before the holidays, some friends and I went to her house to have dinner. She was so excited that all her kids were coming for the holidays and she was preparing for that.
She was the mother of a military family...they were all in the military...she, herself was a Marine...and both her children are currently serving our country. Her husband was a retired Deputy Chief from our department and had been working as a police mentor in Iraq. She just welcomed into the family a beautiful granddaughter...all this going on in the final stages of cancer. She had been diagnosed with cancer and refused to give into it.
Her eyes sparkled when she showed us pictures of her family. I could see she was tired but so proud. She said she had told her husband it was time to come home...to quit his job and he had done so right away. When she said that, I knew she knew her time was near. Yet, all this time, all the chemo... she looked great and was full of life.
She fought long and hard and was so strong. We all admired that. She came to work in the office to help out with projects. She was always a very hard worker and plodding along on a new project after chemo was not uncommon. She was always very stoic right after chemo...oh, it was just another treatment. She showed those "young boys" what tough was all about.
In the early morning hours today, a medical call came across the radio. It was her call. I didn't know what was going on until I looked at the computer screen. Officers were already en route and by the time we were done with a traffic stop, I could hear the ambulance approaching the hospital on the return trip. I knew by the words in the call, her fight was over.
I went to the hospital and other officers were present. The hospital staff were stern and serious and looked down, not wanting to look at us with our tears streaming down our faces. They whizzed by the officers with tears guarding the room.
After an honor guard was set up, I thought about her as a person. She could not have been more honorable. She never said an unkind word. She never whined or complained. If she did, it was not in public, and no one knew about it. I could go on and on about all her achievements in life because she was amazing. She was a community pillar both before, during, and after her career as a police officer.
She always wanted to be a police officer and finally saw that dream at the age of 49. It was an honor to be her friend even if I only really knew her for a few years. I will always remember what she stood for and what a fine example she set. Most of all, I will remember that she was always kind and good.