Tuesday, May 24, 2011

swat: the same but different

image from here
We were lying in bed in the middle of the day while our two boys were playing downstairs. We had plans shortly before picking up our daughter at school. It's his day off. When his cell phone went off, somehow I knew that it would be swat related. I don't know how. I just did. I felt three things. One: A pang of sadness deep down inside because I HATE it when he gets called in on his day off. Two: Excitement for him because it was his first call out. Three:  Dread. It reminded me of his first night out and how I felt. I rarely feel fear and worry when it comes to HF on duty, but when it's something he hasn't done yet (or I haven't done vicariously through him...) then I worry. The fear takes over and I let the "what if's" rule my mind for a moment. Do you do that? Do you imagine the worst? Do you imagine what he'll be doing "right this second" and do you imagine getting a call from someone else? I do. But just for a moment. I don't like to, but that's that. And then somehow, by the grace of God, I am enveloped in a cocoon of peace. I feel strong and confident and that everything will be okay.

I watched him dress in his swat gear. He had everything at home. He looked like a warrior ready for battle. He looked super hot, but that wasn't the most important thought in my mind at the time, strangely enough. He was focused and serious. He got a few other calls. I wished I could ask questions. I wished he could tell me where he was going and what it was for, but that would have to wait. He has been told not to tell anyone anything until the situation is over. It kills me not to know. The boys come to the living room and watch him in awe as he quietly gathers his things. He kisses us all on the head, gives me an extra kiss on the lips, says, "I love you guys", and he walks out the door. I hear the car literally speed off.

The hours go by. There's no way I'm calling him or texting him. I will wait for him to do that. I no longer feel that desperate itch to communicate while he's on duty, but this is different. It's the same, yet different. I finally get a text:

"Love you and the kids".

What is this supposed to mean?! I'm picturing him in a WWI trench being bombed from overhead and it's his last call. I know. Very dramatic. But just for a moment. He doesn't usually send random texts like that. Something heavy must've been on his mind as he had a moment to send me that message. I keep it in my phone even though I'm an avid text message deleter.

It is late at night and I am still awake. I cannot sleep. I will probably wait up for him unless sleep overtakes me. I finally fall asleep. I toss and turn. My neck aches from my inability to relax. My jaw aches from clenching my teeth in my sleep. I have nightmares. As far as I can remember, it's the first time I have a nightmare related to HF's job. Some of my nightmares tonight are silly- like me taking my daughter to school in my underwear without a care, while the majority involve HF getting hurt. I toss and turn some more. I never hear him come home. When I wake up in the morning, he is in bed next to me. I have no idea when he got home. I will let him sleep in. As for myself, I had about 4 hours of sleep. Not enough.

There's a little bit of blood on his uniform. Argh! I'll ask him about it later.

While I have a moment to myself in the morning, I scour the news. I feel fairly certain that I know what he was up to all night based on what I'm reading, but I know he won't say anything. At least not for a week or two. I test him anyway. When he wakes up, I ask him if it had anything to do with "such and such". He smiles, but says, "I can't talk about it." That's all right. I love my honorable and "by the book" officer. I'm just glad he is home safe and sound. He will tell me when he is allowed to. No hurry

First call out.  A success. And I will probably feel more relaxed next time.


Meadowlark said...

"I can't talk about it"????? That would SUCK!!!!! Wait, what's worse than suck? Who knows but I couldn't handle that one bit!!! Glad this team is not that way.

I am a bit concerned for you though: " He looked super hot, but that wasn't the most important thought in my mind at the time" ... um, are you SURE you're OK? That's ALWAYS the most important thought in my mind when he's in his *cool-guy gear*. :)

Glad you made it through to the other side and that you have many, many more calls ahead. We are nearing his retirement from the team and it's sad, sad sad :(

Dori said...

Yeah...the whole "can't talk about it" bit would gnaw and fester! At least on bomb call outs he can give me the highlights as he's gearing up.

Well done on all of you for coming through your first call out. Banish the "what ifs". They do you no good. And I know you already know that. But I have to remind myself of that sometimes.

RoryBore said...

I have learnt not to ask. He either can't talk because he is not supposed to talk about it, or he can't talk because he just can't talk about it. either way, I wait. But I can always tell how bad the call was by how many times he hugs and kisses the kids when he returns home. A subtle change in his awareness of all things innocent and fragile. There will be a faraway look to his eyes....like he's not quite completely "home"...but eventually it will fade. Maybe I will hear the details, or maybe after 10 years on he'll work through it on his own. The only thing I can do is quietly wait. To just be here when and if it all spills out.
It's funny that I worry more about his emotionl, or spiritual state far more than I worry about injury. Far more than just having him come home....I want him to come home Whole.

Yellow said...

I hate T-rex's calls like that. I too picture to WW1 bunkers and bombs going off over head. He is nice and safe and the bad guys have no clue where he is until his dumb wife calls and the bad guys get to hear the newest dirty song played as his ringer, then Boom, its all over, and all because I had to call to see if he wanted pork for lunch!

Well at least that is how it is in my head.

The uniform is HOT and there is nothing wrong with thinking about that and nothing else.

as for him not telling you anything, that is BS. :P and you can tell him another police wife said so. ;) But good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

The only time we are not allowed to talk about it is when we are in a shooting. And they understand we will tell a confidant or significant other.

Mrs. Gumshoe said...

Glad he got home safe and sound! Glad you got through his first call-out as well. Hopefully the next ones won't be as nerve-racking! I felt the same way on the first one, but then that peace takes over we remember how well they are trained and how good they are.

mrs. fuzz said...

The squad commander for the swat team asks them not to talk about anything at all to anyone until the situation is resolved. Not even to your significant others. I don't know why, but that's his rule. But as soon as the situation is resolved he spills the beans.

Pam Landy said...

Maybe this is just my coping mechanism, but I don't worry about JB for the most part. He's at work, I don't think about it. Straight-up denial. He still doesn't have an at-home weapon, and all the uniform-donning is done at the department, so maybe that's why. HOWEVER if I were a stay-at-home mom with kids, I can DEFINITELY see the worry machine kicking it up a notch.

CM said...

Glad he is okay. Sounds like you're doing a great job supporting him.

Anonymous said...

I was moving through the web looking for some tactical artwork and stumbled onto this. I am currently assigned to SWAT here in Florida. I have been on the Team for over 13 years with 10 as a Team Leader and just took the Team Commander position.

About 5 years ago my wife started the SWAT Wives Club (not the most daring title!) but specifically designed to help the wives cope with the our duty (though my wife is a cop as well) and for them get to know the people behind the names they hear from their husbands! We have found that guys (and gals) stay on the Team longer since we started this approach of involving the families and especially the wives. They get together as a whole about 4-6 times a year and do events.

They play an important part of SWAT Assesment and Selection. We now conduct home interviews with applicant wives (or husbands) with wives from our Team Leadership. Its also a time when all the families, kids, Team members, and applicants have lunch during the assessment process. it usually held at a nearby park and is great for the kids and families. the applicants are blown away by this. I could go on but . . .

We really started this after several shootings and I didn't want some stranger showing up at the house from the department. Our families serve, in their own way, on the Team as well.

JB C said...

My hubby also just got his first SWAT call out. It was two troopers that got shot in a village off the road system. Has my head all in a fog. Really, that's the first deployment? I want him off the team now! It's his girlfriend, his mistress; he talks and texts and hangs out with them way more than me. And being alone waiting for the text or call after deployment? So sucky! I keep thinking to myself that I don't want to know the faces behind the names. I don't want to deal with the pain by knowing the wife of the next cop shooting. It's just hard not to be resentful about it all.