Today I woke up.
After a long shift at work with my all too familiar throbbing lower back pain. I think of the extra gear on my belt. I often think I should drop a magazine or my baton. The thought leaves my head as I read the officer down page. I silently say a prayer for that brother or sister.
Today, I get over the pain just like every other day and reach to touch my baby’s hand. She’s only two years old and completely oblivious to the chaos in the world.
Today is a different day. Today, my heart is beating out of my chest. I run in the bathroom and hope I can calm myself with a warm shower. Instead of calming my nerves, I break down and sob quietly. I don’t want to wake my baby. Then I hear her tiny steps closing in. She’s already calling for me, “Momma?” I quickly wipe my tears off my face. Silly of me. The water running down my face masks my tears and she won’t know the difference. She opens the shower curtain and motions. She wants to come in. I quickly undress my baby and she clings tightly to my arms. She lays her perfect head on my shoulder and we let the water run. I continue crying. My vision is cloudy. I love her so much.
Today, after our shower I rush around the house. I throw laundry in the washer, make the bed, dress my daughter. I remember she is attending a small family gathering and I go back to her room. She needs a nice outfit. The thought of missing these moments gives me sadness. I’m too busy to let it take over me.
Today, I say goodbye to my husband. He kisses the baby and tells me to be careful. My eyes fill with tears once more. I begin to get upset. Why am I so emotional today? What is wrong with me?
Today, I leave my house wearing my patrol pants and black undershirt. I stopped leaving the house fully dressed. My police car is no longer in my driveway. My supervisors told us to be careful, people have started searching neighborhoods to find officers homes. I normally wouldn’t mind.
I signed up for this job.
I signed up for the constant risk.
I signed up for the throbbing hip, back, and body pain.
I signed up for long shifts.
I signed up to put my life in the line for a good cause.
I signed up for no holidays.
I signed to lay on cold floors and await orders.
Today, I am scared. I’m almost never afraid. I have been an officer long enough to be able to control that gut wrenching feeling that I used to get while answering my calls.
Today, I leave my house with the lingering thought it might be my last day alive. The last day I see my family.
Today is different.
Today I fear for my baby. I see today more than every other day, I’m afraid. I’m afraid for my baby’s future. For her generation. For my family.
Today, I was deployed to downtown Nashville.
Today I was deployed to help control the unrest.
Today, I waited in a sea of blue.
Today I listened for my name and assignment along side of my brothers and sisters. All six hundred of us wide eyed and unaware. We don’t know what awaits outside.
Today, I stood in front of the Chief of Police. I’ve only seen him a few times, always words of encouragement.
Today, I opened my brand-new riot gear and struggled to fit my body in it. This is just so unfamiliar.
Today, I sat with my heart beating unusually fast. Waiting to relieve my brothers and sister that are fighting the good fight, standing firm in the face of unrest.
Today, I sat and read messages and threats of rioting all night. They would not stop until officers were dead. I think of my baby.
Today was a different day.
Today, as I exited the shuttle bus with my brothers and sisters all geared up. I say a small prayer and hope I can make it back home and see my baby girl. I hope for one more time with her.
Today might be the day I make the ultimate sacrifice, I take a deep breath and shove that thought away.
Today, I stood firmed faced.
Today I stood in the rain, my long black hair soaking wet.
Today, I got called a pig, a racist and a white supremacist.
Today people didn’t care the about my brown skin color, today I was just a hated uniform.
Today, I stood in the rain with my shield up while glass bottles were thrown at me.
Today, as people chanted for change they threw rocks at us and hoped for our death.
Today, people demanded I took a knee.
Today, people laughed at me and my colleague as objects were being thrown at us.
Today, after a long day in the rain I sat at the court house wet, exhausted, humiliated, sad and with a million thoughts running through my head.
Today, I wondered how I ended up here?
Today, I wondered if my career choice was right.
Today, I wondered why people didn’t see me or all the good my brother and sisters have done to our community.
Today, just like the first time I watched that terrible video, I dammed that Officer time and time again, because I knew then that all the good I had done was gone, my hard work vanished.
Today, I made it back home to my baby girl.
Today, I made it back home to place another load of laundry into the washer.
Today, I feel guilt because I DID make it back home and he did not just like many others.
Today, I hear his pleading and cries for his mother in my head.
Today, I stand with both sides but wish there wasn’t a division. I am a Hispanic Police Officer, I am a mother, I am a minority and I have felt racial Injustice.
Today, just like yesterday I am hopeful for a better tomorrow.