I didn’t kiss my husband goodbye when he left for work this morning. I was still festering from last night’s disagreement fight. He had leaned in to kiss me and I didn’t push him away, but I wasn’t an active participant in the kiss.
I’ll see him tonight. I mean … I know I will. I’ll probably be a little less mad. And while life is unpredictable, I have zero doubts he will walk through the door shortly after 5 PM complaining about traffic. I think in terms of when I’ll see him next, not if.
But not everyone can say that.
Do you ever read something that completely changes your perspective? I just did. Lindsay Murray, a mom of four and wife of a police officer, gave a peek behind the curtain of what it’s like to be married to someone who puts his life on the line every day and what runs through her mind during what would be moments of ordinary family life for me: like eating dinner and going to work.
Her words appeared on the Love What Matters Facebook page. It’s a long status update, but worth the read. Here’s the part I found the most touching:
“I ask my reluctant husband if he could just sit with the kids for a quick photo on the couch because these days, they rarely see him in uniform so I want to have a photo.
He doesn’t know that I call this photo ‘the last photo.’ He doesn’t know that I have a collection, spanning nearly a decade, of ‘last photos’ just in case… There is only a small percentage of spouses out there that seriously have to say goodbye with their whole heart when their partner leaves for work. Do you know how it feels to discuss increasing his life insurance because the climate of the world is anti-police right now and I can’t afford to raise four kids on my own with our measly savings.
The brutal truth is that I take this last photo so that I have an up-to-date photo in case the media needs it, in case he dies. This last time, I didn’t have the chance to get the kids out of their dinner stained pajamas so I edited it to be black and white so you don’t see the tomato sauce and peanut butter. He doesn’t know that my heart trembles while I take the photo, he looks so happy with his kids in his arms and they look so safe wrapped under him and all I can think about is ‘what if this is the last photo’… Grim? Macabre? Maybe… but I don’t care. What if it is the last photo? I would be so thankful that I took it.”
The picture accompanying the Facebook post shows a smiling, handsome police officer on the couch with his four kids. (Side note: all four kids are smiling and three of them are actually looking at the camera, which is nothing short of a photographic miracle.) He looks happy, proud and content, like there was no place in the world he wanted to be more. When his kids look at this picture, they will see their father’s love. I’ve never met this man and before today I had no idea he existed, but I can plainly see love.
What I found more touching than the story itself are the conversations it started. The comments section of the Facebook post were flooded with “me too’s” from other spouses of police officers and firefighters.
“It is comforting to read the words of someone who I can relate to so closely. I am thankful each and every time my husband walks through the door after a shift.” — Marissa B., wife of a police officer
“I grew up in a time where cameras took expensive film so a ‘last photo’ wasn’t an option but I remember my dad saying goodbye when he left – never see you soon or goodnight. It was always goodbye. I would stare at him a lot, memorizing his face in case he didn’t come home.” — Brandy H., daughter of a firefighter
“We don’t technically do last photos in the same way … because largely, my husband has an inside job most of the time. However, he has special events that he works that seem to attract more harm with large crowds. After Dallas and Baton Rouge, it’s hard to think about anyone’s children losing a parent because their parent’s job is the reason they are being targeted and their whole job is to run towards the danger.” — Melissa A., wife of a police officer
The Love What Matters post has been seen and shared by thousands. There are over 600 comments on this post and every single one of them caught my heart. People have tagged their friends, shared their own stories, and even posted their own last pictures. In sharing her worst fear, Murray has brought people together. Whether or not you can relate to what it’s like to be married to a police officer, you probably realize there is something very validating in knowing you’re not alone in what you feel.
I take countless pictures of my kids with my husband, and I’ve never once wondered if that will be the last one. The thought of having to choose a picture for an obituary has never occurred to me, even though I know none of us are guaranteed the future.
Anyone who earns their daily bread protecting others is a hero in my book, but the families standing behind them now have my admiration as well. I’ll never look at another news article about a fallen officer without wondering about who loved him (or her) enough to take a last picture, hoping it wouldn’t be exactly that.
Maybe reading this will make you appreciate the sacrifices of other people a little more. Maybe it will make you cherish the people in your life a little more. Maybe both of those things.
And yes, I’m still mad at my husband. But. If I’d read this before he left for work instead of after, I’d have done things differently. I would have kissed him. It’s funny how your perspective can change so quickly.