The Women in the Peripheral
It was just before Christmas and a handful of years back.
And it happened about 40 miles from where we lay our heads. So, yeah. It felt close.
I made a vague Facebook post about the fact that I was thankful my husband was coming home from his shift, but keenly aware that another Minnesota family wouldn't be seeing their officer walk through their doors all those years ago. I remember one of the first questions I was asked: "Was your husband there? Does he work with him?" Certainly valid questions, but I remember the instantaneous feeling of selfishness.
Crap. This wasn't our grief to hold.
This murder of a police officer wasn't mine. It wasn't even close enough to be a part of our story. At least that's what my brain and anxiety started to tell me. How dare I draw parallels between this tragedy and my own reconciling of something so horrific? That moment would turn out to be the springboard I needed to find another way to tell our story. I needed another symbol to show our support of the men and women in my family (both blood and friends) who put themselves before others daily.
And then I saw them.
These women in my peripheral with these beautiful, simple, elegant, blue roses. The women who are so in-step with this interesting and often unconventional life we lead. This nuanced and delicate marriage of real-life and justice.
These sisters who back the blue both boldly and quietly.
There is no book or podcast or manual on how to show up at a stranger's funeral. But as Homer put it: "A sympathetic friend can be quite as dear as a brother."
It is in that same spirit of sympathy and love that I've now stood in the fringes of strangers' memorial services.
Silently listening to stories and memories; fresh, new and untold to me before.
Because somewhere in the crowd of people is a woman and a family who very well could be me.
I've volunteered at the three officer memorial services now, not because I have something special to offer or because I feel a need to be seen-but rather because I have a need to stay in the wings.
Just out of sight. Somewhere in that blurry, watery, peripheral. To hold steady for her that imaginary boundary between a new life without her officer and the confines of that sacred day and time when she and her family mourn with others.
To plant my feet on that holy ground and stand with HER.
I do it because if the day comes that I need that moment, too-that there in the wings, just out of sight, will be my women in the peripheral.
I let go of the awkward, the uncomfortable, the painful, and I simply grieve.
Letting those blue roses, once again, tell our side of the story.
We, the women standing in the peripheral with those beautiful blue roses, we show up so we can first give. And then so we may grieve.
Because, as I've seen it written in many places, no one in this family fights alone.
About Backing the Blue Line services: BTBL provides support to MN Law Enforcement Officers and their families by maintaining a list of professional and confidential resources available for those that need it. The list includes marriage and family counselors who have experience specific to law enforcement dynamics. Paid members of Backing the Blue Line also have access to special discounts for some providers. You can access the Members Only area of this website by using the password provided in your membership confirmation email.
About the writer: Caitlin is a member of Backing the Blue Line member and currently serves as a Sub Chair of the marketing committee. She's also a SWAT attendee, a three-peat Blue Line Ball go-er, and a fierce "heart emoji clicker" in BtBL's private Facebook group. She is a middle school special education teacher and chief chaos coordinator of twin boys. Her dream job would be a talk radio DJ. But only if she could talk about the fluffy stuff. Her husband, a Minnesota State Trooper, has been in law enforcement for 10 years. He is literally and figuratively the brakes to her lead foot.