A friend of mine posted a story on Facebook, and I just had to track down some information on the story. It is one of the most touching stories I have read in a long time.
My friend is a widow. Her husband was an officer who was killed in the line of duty. I must admit, I’ve seen the grief of family who have lost a spouse, but it has been “expected” to some degree. But a sudden loss, where someone has taken from you the opportunity to say goodbye, I can not even begin to imagine how that feels.
As a new Chaplain, some of my duties are easy to understand and fun to do. I use “duties” lightly, because I enjoy it, so it just seems natural to me. I’ll be honest, I do get a thrill in a police car. It’s a great feeling to know that someone trusts you enough to tell you the good, bad and ugly of being a cop. But as tragic as a line of duty death is, for the most part, it happens other places, but not here…not close to me. As Chaplain, I cover Huber Heights, and can provide “mutual aid” to anyone who may need it. But as Doctor Mike, I cover over 400 departments in 3 states. In some of those cases, maybe even most, I would not be able to be there them in person. Then I have to think how I help them grieve from 200 miles away. Honestly, this is the duty I dread. In an ideal world, all the good guys go home. But we don’t live in an ideal world. And when life goes wrong, we are there for the family. I like “being there” for people, and helping people through hard times, and telling people things will be all right. But in this scenario, I can’t say they will be all right. I hope to only help them through the pain that they now face.
There’s training on the “death notification”, and articles by “experts”, so I can know the facts and the techniques. The what not to say, what to say, be direct, but not too direct. Don’t use vague concepts “passed on”, and NEVER give them false hope, but if there is hope, give them some. It’s not easy, but my part in that story is the brief , painful beginning, and theirs is for the remainder of their life. I’ll never forget my pain when Deputy Hopper was killed, but it was small in comparison to her family and the CCSO.
So the story is below. I dedicate this to the large (and growing) number of Law Enforcement and Firefighter spouses who have struggled and still struggle with picking up the pieces and moving on. It’s is spread around the internet (with people changing the name), based on the book “Saying Olin to Say Goodbye” by Donald Hackett.
The time of concern is over. No longer am I asked how I am doing. Never is the name of my partner mentioned to me. A curtain descends. The moment has passed. A life slips from frequent recall. There are exceptions … close and comforting friends, sensitive and loving family. For most, the drama is over. The spotlight is off. Applause is silent. But for me, the play will never end. The effects are timeless. Say Olin to me.
On the stage of my life, he has been both lead and supporting actor. Do not tiptoe around the greatest event of my life. Love does not die. His name is written on my life. The sound of his voice replays within my mind. You feel he is dead. I feel he is of the dead and still lives. You say he was my partner. I say he is. Say Olin to me and say Olin again.
It hurts to bury his memory in silence. What he was in the flesh has now turned to ash. What he is in spirit, stirs within me always. He is of my past, but he is part of my present. He is my hope for the future. You say not to remind me. How little you understand that I cannot forget. I would not if I could. I forgive you, because you cannot know. I strive not to judge you, for yesterday I was like you. I do not ask you to walk this road. The ascent is steep and the burden heavy. I walk it not by choice. I would rather walk it with him in the flesh. I am what I have to be. What I have lost you cannot feel. What I have gained you cannot see. Say Olin , for he is alive in me.
He and I will meet again, though in many ways we have never parted. He and his life play light songs on my mind, sunrises and sunsets on my dreams. He is real and he is shadow. He was and he is.
He is my partner and I love him as I always did. Say Olin to me and say Olin again.