I really want this to be an open letter to a little girl who brightened our day and didn’t even know it.
My wife and I found ourselves in the lobby of the Brookfield Police Department this past Monday evening.
Like many people who visit police departments we could have thought of a million other places that we would rather be over the holidays. I was anticipating a meeting with a Cook County State’s Attorney as the result of a domestic violence issue that had rocked our family. We were an emotional mess to say the least.
As we sat in the small lobby with bullet proof glass separating us from the dispatcher we could hear the squawk of the radio announce another domestic violence incident that needed police officers to respond. The dispatcher advised us that we would be waiting a bit longer because the officer we were meeting with had to be diverted to the domestic situation.
Our minds were reeling with thoughts about our situation and also of the situation that mind be going on with the other anonymous Brookfield family who had just called the police for help. What is their situation? Is anyone hurt? How long had their family dysfunction been going on? How would this situation affect their future and how would it affect their immediate holiday season?
My mind then shifted gears and thought about the officers who were responding. What was going through their minds? Was all the recent negative media attention concerning police officers affecting them as they responded to this latest call for help? Was the video of demonstrators in New York calling for dead cops running through their heads as they raced toward some unknown danger? Was the latest chant, “Pigs in a blanket, Fry ’em like bacon!” running through their heads as pulled up on the scene. A domestic situation is historically the single most dangerous call that police officers find themselves in. Were they thinking about their families? What was the quickest route to the people who needed emergency help in what they knew was going to be a violent, rapidly evolving mess? What would the victim look like? What injuries would they find? Would they find themselves in a life or death situation? Would they have to kill someone to protect themselves or someone else? Would they be on the news? Would they see their family again?
As all of this was going on, we looked to our left to the only other two people in the waiting area. One was a young woman probably in her early twenties and the other was a very cute and very energetic blond-haired girl who couldn’t have been older than six years old.
Why were they here? What was their situation? What was going through minds? Just then the little girl asked the woman, “Mommy? Why do some people have a bad Christmas?” The mother just looked at the girl and very quietly answered, “Because some people make bad decisions, sweetie.” The mother looked back at my wife and I and we exchanged looks and slight smiles.
Were they there without the father for a reason? Was he at work? Was he in the hospital? Was he in jail? I was hoping that it was nothing major. The little girl didn’t seem very affected by whatever their situation was and was asking all sorts of questions and walking around the small room looking at different signs on the wall.
I was starting to do the same thing. I started looking around the room looking at different signs such as “Job Hunting? Don’t have a DUI on your resume?” and other such things one does when one is in a waiting room. My eyes caught what looked like framed drawing by a child. As I got closer to it I could see that it was a large hand colored drawing with some text and many signatures.
Just then a police officer opened the lobby door and looked at the mother and the little girl. He said hi to the little girl and she shrunk back onto her chair. After all, who wouldn’t be intimidated by a guy wearing a dark blue uniform carrying a gun, handcuffs, taser, and other equipment designed to subdue or kill another human being.
Her mom smiled, looked at her daughter and asked, “Oh, so NOW you are going to be shy?”
The police officer squatted down to the girl’s level and said, “I heard that you have something that you wanted to give me.” The little girl bent down and picked up a small brown box and opened it. Inside was a stack of Christmas Cards! The officer reached out and took the little girl’s hand and said, “Thank you so much. Why don’t you and mom come with me and I’ll show you where all the police officer’s mailboxes are.” They all walked into the hallway, the door shut and we were now all alone in the waiting room listening to the ever constant squawk of the dispatcher’s radio.
I looked over at my wife who had tears running down her face and my eyes were welling up. With blurry eyes I walked over to the framed picture again in order to get a chance to read it. What I found was a prayer written and signed by some past elementary school class.
Almighty God we pray to you
In Heaven up above
Watch over our dear policemen,
And protect them with your love.
Please guide them as they keep us
Safe both night and day
And hold them firmly in your care
Should danger come their way
Give them true strength and courage
as they serve till duty’s end.
And one more thing we ask dear Lord
Protect their families and friends.
I grabbed my phone and took a picture.
So, to the little girl whose name I may never know and whose face I may never see again I simply say thank you for reminding us all that there is still good in this world. Thank you for helping me to forget, if only for a few moments, the tragic situation that my wife and I have found ourselves in and thank you for helping us all to remember those who put their life in danger every day in order to come to the aid of people they may never meet again.
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