the weight of the badge

The other morning my officer got home from work just as I was getting ready for work myself. As he was getting ready for bed and I was heading out the door, I asked him how his shift was. “It was a rough one” was all he said.

I looked over at him, sitting on the floor, leaning up against our bed and playing with our pup, and saw the subtle slump of his shoulders. The minor look of exhaustion that didn’t just come from working a full shift. The slight flash of defeat in his eyes that you’d miss if you didn’t know what you were looking for.

The weight of the badge that our officers carry is heavy. The badge on their chest physically weighs only a few ounces, but the responsibilities and burdens it comes with weighs tons.

The calls they go on are tough. The things they witness are rough. They show up to people’s worst days over and over again, and each time a tiny piece of that call burrows itself behind that badge. That empty car seat in the freeway median after a horrific car accident. The hollow look in a young woman’s eyes after recounting what happened to her last night. The sound of a mother’s anguished scream as she learns that her child didn’t make it. The smell of smoke and chaos after a family’s entire home has been destroyed and they can’t find their beloved pet.

Our officers carry the weight of that badge around with them everywhere they go, and even though they try to “turn it off” when they get home or “stuff it down inside” it still lingers, heavy and dark and burdensome.

Thank you, first responders, for choosing to carry that weight for us. Thank you for carrying the weight of the badge.

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