This I Believe
Life is a precious gift that is often taken for granted and not appreciated until something happens or a death occurs. I believe that each person is given a destiny and I now know mine was to be a police officer, my path was mapped out for me and I shall travel it until it is my time to go. I worked as a street patrol officer for the City of Detroit and the sadness that was seen on a daily basis was often unbelievable; however I got accustomed to seeing the worst of the worst.
On February 16th, 2008 at 2:00 a.m. my life changed drastically, two of my friends and co-workers were murdered senselessly by a monster. The officers were in the performance of their duties and killed for a mere traffic infraction. Their names are Jennifer Fettig and Matthew Bowens, they were young and full of energy. Their lives cut so short and I ask myself to this very day, why? I ask the question why for a lot of reasons; why God took them? Why I was spared? Why ? Why? Why?
I remember that morning like it was yesterday, I had been sick for several days and returned to work the night of the incident. I was not scheduled to work with my regular partner and was left as an odd officer. Jennifer did not have a partner either because he was ordered to work the station desk taking reports, and Matthew’s partner was transferred to a different precinct. So this left three odd officers to be paired up to go out and fight crime. An odd turn of events changed the schedule and I was now able to work with my regular partner because her temporary partner called in sick; this left Matthew and Jennifer working together.
At about 2:00 a.m. the words you never want to hear as a police officer is that one of your own has been shot. The words rung out loud and clear over the radio, “radio 4-5 my partner has been shot”. My heart fell and I was stunned momentarily until I could regroup and focus; my partner was driving and she knew the streets like the back of her hand, but the tunnel vision took over.
I immediately began to guide her in the right direction and was trying to keep myself together at the same time, that drive seemed like the longest trip ever. I began to pray aloud and tried to convince myself that this was a mistake and when we got to the scene everything would be fine. When the radio fell silent and the dispatcher continued to try and reach the officers with no response; I knew that it could only be a few possible reasons and one of them being the worst thought ever.
Upon arriving to the scene as a first responder I immediately ran to the location of the officers and was horrified by what I was looking at; the numbness that had taken over my body was real and for once in my career I didn’t know what to do. After a few moments I looked at the supervisor and asked what he wanted me to do, he told me and my partner to escort the ambulance carry both wounded officers to the hospital. The sirens echoing were deafening; the lights were so bright that they seemed to blind me, and my fear was that of death.
We arrived at the hospital and it was very chaotic, I was still in disbelief of what was happening in front of me. I had never experienced such a horrifying event in my life. The hospital staff soon made the announcement that Matthew had passed away and that Jennifer was in grave condition; I immediately wept for the first time in my career at work in my uniform. A few hours later Jennifer succumbed to her gunshot wounds to the face and head and the horror was now doubled.
I soon realized after their funerals that I needed help dealing with all the emotions and grief that I was experiencing; I was sent to see a department doctor who diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was receiving the help I needed to understand the way I was feeling and how to deal with the depression that seemed to be taking over. I felt very overwhelmed and scared; I began to think about how I may have ended up working with Matthew or Jennifer. I began to see myself in Jennifer’s place that night and I wondered why God had organized that schedule.
I think of Matthew and Jennifer everyday, I still have nightmares and I still cannot erase the horrifying images from my mind. I still cry when I think of them and their sacrifice and I often wonder if I will ever be the same person I was before that awful night.
This I believe: after years of treatment I know that it was not in the cards for me to have died that morning, and my path was to drive home to my 10 month old son who needed his mommy. I believe that everything happens for a reason and the events that took place were uncontrollable and part of life. I believe that my work is not done here on earth and that my children need their mother for many more years.
I believe that Matthew and Jennifer are in a wonderful safe place watching over me and my co-workers; that they are the blue guardian angels of the heavens. I believe that very breath should be appreciated because you never know when it will be your last. Family and friends should be loved and cherished because they may be taken one day unexpectedly, live every moment to it’s fullest because some are not so fortunate. I believe it is okay to grieve and weep for my loss and I know that I am human and have feeling like everyone else. This I believe.
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