Christmas is fast approaching and I find my mind going back to Christmas’ past. I remember a Christmas when my husband was still with the Sheriff’s Department and working crazy shifts. It was raining that night I rode along…
Rain beat down on the roof of the patrol car in rhythm to the panicked beating of my heart. My Sheriff’s Deputy husband was insisting I jump out of the car at the next intersection into the raging storm. I was, just as insistently, refusing. The blaring siren of the patrol car made it hard to hear as we argued. How did we get here? All I wanted was to spend Christmas Eve with my husband…
There are so many emotions you deal with as the spouse of a cop. Fear, boredom and loneliness are some of your constant companions. Constant shift changes can wreak havoc on a personal life and relationship. Crime does not take a holiday…and neither does a cop.
So when my husband asked if I wanted to ride along in his patrol car that Christmas Eve, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. We had no children to fill stockings for, and I dreaded another holiday as part of a married couple “in no couple land”. I wasn’t single, but we weren’t available when most couples got together, so our social life was not exactly buzzing. The prospect of riding along in the darkness of a small town until two in the morning seemed like fun (that was how desperate I was!).
Shortly after the shift began the rain started sheeting down, obscuring the Christmas lights that flickered on the dark, wet streets. Hour after hour passed with nothing to break the monotony. I was regretting my decision, thinking how at least I would have been snug at home listening to Christmas music if I hadn’t chosen to spend this holiday out in the dreary weather.
Hours passed in the rainy darkness. My husband drove his patrol car through the slick, lonely streets while I struggled to stay awake.
Finally, a crackling radio call blared through the silence startling me. The dispatcher relayed information about a hit and run driver who had hit a traffic light pole. After the dispatcher gave details on the last location the car was seen, deputies started responding that they were heading to that area. However, my husband responded that he was going in an entirely different direction.
“Why?” I questioned him in an irritated tone. “This is the first real call of the night and we’re not going to be involved at all?”
He explained that he knew the town and thought the driver would head a different way. He also told me that he would stop at an intersection to drop me off, as regulations required, in case he had to confront the driver.
And so I found myself angrily arguing with him as we went speeding through the deserted streets. It was pounding rain and about 1:00 a.m. on Christmas morning. I was NOT going to jump out of the patrol car and wait. I was going to be part of the action!
My husband had little time to argue with me as he spotted the car in question. He lit up the patrol’s lights and turned on the siren that screamed in the night air.
The car pulled over quickly and my husband hurriedly told me to get under the dashboard of the patrol car. He radioed his location, jumped out with his gun drawn and yelled at the driver to put his hands up as he crouched behind his open door in the driving rain.
This time I did as I was told and huddled under the dash, saying a prayer in my head for my husband’s safety. As I listened to the radio crackling with back-up units on the way, I felt helpless. When I was home waiting for the man I loved to return from his shift, I could pretend he was inside the sheriff’s station, writing reports, warm and safe. Now, there was no pretending. From my crouched vantage point I could see my husband in full cop mode, gun drawn and in harm’s way. My heart thudded in my chest and blood rushed to my ears making his shouted commands sound muffled. The sirens in the distance penetrated my whispered prayers and sweat dripped down my back as the rain pounded on the roof.
The arrival of back up cars, the arrest of the driver and blaring radio calls added to the noise and confusion, but finally it was over. The handcuffed driver was being transported to jail by another deputy and we were on our way back to the station so my husband could write an incident report.
We were both quiet on the ride back. The rain soaked streets illuminated the holiday lights that shone in the early dawn hours of Christmas. I thought of families tucked into their beds catching some sleep before the early morning Christmas chaos. I thought of the men and women who spent their days and nights protecting those families so they could sleep undisturbed. My heart filled gratitude and love as my husband helped me out of the patrol car. My hand tightly clasped his as our eyes met and I gave a silent prayer of thanks in the early morning darkness of that Christmas day.