My Daddy: My First and Forever Hero
Editor’s note: Melissa wrote this piece for herself several years ago and first shared it with friends in December of 2012 - shortly after Officer Tommy Decker of Cold Spring Police Department was killed. She recently came across it again and felt compelled to share it in our private Facebook Group as a show of support to the family of retired Sgt. Jerry Larson of the Minneapolis Police Department on the eve of his funeral.
Every time I read about a police officer’s death, my throat tightens and my eyes water.
It is an involuntary reaction.
As a dispatcher, I have heard death, destruction and despair that most people don’t and wouldn’t want to see or hear.
Still, a cop’s death touches the little girl deep inside me who will never be able to face the fragility of her own father’s life.
You see, my dad is a cop.
He started his career in law enforcement before I was born. I have never known anything else. My dad, to me, has simply always been a cop. As a child, having a policeman for a dad meant hearing his portable in the house at all hours. It meant seeing his squad car parked in our driveway. It sometimes meant not seeing him for a couple days in a row, because he was working on a big case.
As I grew up, having a cop for a dad meant other things too. It meant all the kids at school treated you a little "different". It meant dad wasn't always able to make it to my hockey game, or my choir concert, because he was on nightshift.
As I grew into adulthood, there was never a doubt as to what my career path would be. I wanted to help people, I wanted a job with a purpose...I wanted to follow in the family footsteps. As I got older and started my career, Dad and I started to swap stories of the days work, asking questions only he would ask. If I ever have a "bad" day at work, he's my first call. He 'gets' it.
But there is one thing I can't talk to him about...no matter how often we hear about it...the death of a police officer.
Even writing those words now, I have to swallow back the constricting feeling I have in my throat and blink away even the possibility of moisture in my eyes.
I hear about the death of a police officer and I instantly think of that officer’s family. I think of that officer’s husband or wife. I think of that officer’s mother and father. I think of that officer’s brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends.
When I think of those people, they are not faceless. When I imagine those people, I see the faces of our family and our friends.
And then when I inevitably think of that officer’s children I see my siblings' face and my own face, looking back at me from a mirror.
I see tears in our eyes, and I imagine the infinite emptiness that has come and will stay.
I cannot bear those images. When I think of other families feeling that, and not just imagining it as I am, my very soul aches.
I talk for a living, and I am honestly unable to find words to explain how deep this pain goes. Police officers literally put on their bullet proof vests and then put their lives at risk every single day. They don’t ask for thanks (and 90% of the time they don’t get it). They just do their jobs.
I know there are some bad cops out there. But I believe with all my heart those cops are one-in-a-million. Every cop I have ever known (and I’ve known hundreds) has wanted simply to protect their neighbors.
That’s all my dad wants to do.
My dad is now in his late forties and he continues to absolutely love and thrive off of his job.
When a cop is killed in a chase with a bad guy....
When a cop is killed in a car accident...
When a cop is murdered in cold blood...
...I think of my dad, being fortunate over the years to come home safely to my mom, me and my siblings.
The logical part of my brain knows my dad is mortal. But the wide-eyed 5-year-old that lives deep inside me doesn’t understand what that truly means. That little girl refuses to understand. My daddy is immortal. He is made of steel. He will keep ‘saving the world’ forever.
Every time a cop is killed, I am forced to face the reality that no matter how much of a superhero my dad is, he is at risk and he is in danger constantly. I am also forced to face the reality that there will come a day when I will have to mourn the loss of my dad, my first hero.
I just pray that when that day comes, it is at the end of a happy, fulfilled, and long life.
That is what every good police officer deserves.
My prayer, not just for our family, but for all law enforcement families everywhere, is that no little girl anywhere should lose her superman until they are both old and gray and it is truly time for him to go.
About the writer: Mel has been a 9-1-1 dispatcher for 13 years. She has been with her Law Enforcement Officer for just over a year and they will be getting married in October 2018. Her LEO has two beautiful children and they also have two spoiled rotten dogs - a 5 yr old yellow lab and an 8 month old American Bulldog. When they are not working, they spend their time with the dogs at the dog park or at the lake.
Mel currently serves Backing the Blue Line as the Fallen Officer Memorial Rose Committee Sub-Chair and the Carlton County Regional Blue Angel.
About Backing the Blue Line: The Fallen Officer Memorial Rose Committee preps and hands out our signature blue roses at all Line of Duty death funerals and delivers bouquets of the roses to all non-line of duty death funerals and to the handlers of all current or retired police K9s who cross the rainbow bridge. If you ever hear of the death of a police officer or K9 - PLEASE let us know so we can get a bouquet of blue roses to the survivors. We want to provide for everyone, but if we don't know about it, we can't! So please be our eyes & ears!
If you are married to a MN law enforcement officer or in a committed, long term relationship with one, we invite you to become a member of Backing the Blue Line.