Yesterday someone asked me how much my book cost, I replied with the dollars and cents they would be required to pay at checkout. After all, that is what she asked.
For some reason, I started to think about what the book really cost and it kept adding up. It cost me many sleepless nights, I’ve had panic attacks and nightmares. I’ve listened to some officers and their families choke back sobs while others wept openly. I’ve learned to be patient, when to crack an inappropriate fart joke one of my kids told me and when to let them finish crying. It cost me the ability to say, “No, I do not want to hear your horror story.” After all, they lived through it, I can live through hearing it.
It cost me the ability to pretend that if I can’t see the injury, it’s not there. It cost me security.
It cost me a few days of the year, I know the dates of every single incident and I dread their approach. I thought, “Next week is my birthday. Oh, 7 days later is the anniversary of Joe’s death. What do I say to Michael on the anniversary?”
It’s cost me my ability to watch the news, talk about police brutality, line of duty deaths and any critical incident involving the police. It’s made me want to stop and talk to every officer I see, I can’t drive by one without wanting to stop and ask if they are okay. It’s affected me more deeply than I care to admit.
I’m not a therapist, I’m not trained for what I did. I question my common sense some days. I can’t ask my husband how his night was because I am afraid I will start crying. I’ve made people around me worry. Earlier in the week, someone asked me if I’d ever be able to talk about the officers stories without choking up. Another asked when I was going to let them go, she gently reminded me, “Because you feel so deeply, it’s hard to let those people go. They’re not characters, they’re REAL people with real tragedy. But you’ll have to let them go, Karen, or you’ll drive yourself and your family insane. Ok, more insane…”
She’s right, I’ve fallen in love with all of them and their families, I worry about them, I wonder if they need anything. Then I realize how selfish I am when I think about what it cost me. In the grand scheme of things, what did it cost me? A year of my life? Some of the little sanity I have left? The ability to post knee-jerk reactions and inappropriate content on social media so it’s not a reflection on them?
What did it cost them?
It cost all of them their lives – the lives they knew before their incidents. It cost some of them their physical lives and they are now buried beneath the ground. Others paid with their emotional well-being, their bodily function, their friends, families, sense of security and financial well-being. It cost them their future, their identity and some of the things they love most.
It cost them their dignity. They have had to go to extreme lengths to get what they now need. They hope that someone will listen, and hear; that someone will care about what they are going through. Their appreciation for a compassionate ear rivals a child’s joy at Christmas. It’s cost them understanding.
It affected more than just the officer at the scene, it affected everyone within range of them. It cost them sleepless nights, nightmares and their sense of security. It cost them the belief that when the wolf came to the door, they’d be able to stop it.
So if you ask me how much my book costs, I may say, “$4.99 for the e-book and $12.99 for the paperback”; but I’ll be thinking, “More than you can imagine.”
Proceeds are donated to law enforcement charities....