Who Am I?
I am the wife, the husband, the soul mate, the parent, the child, the grandparent, the sister, the in-law, the neighbor, the best friend, the partner, the co-worker, the supervivor.
We are police survivors.
For some our pain is loud, for others silent, but for all our pain is deep. It hurts to remember the past, the difficulty of today, and the fear of our tomorrows.
Why did this happen to us?
What did we do to be exposed to all this hurt and emotion?
We did nothing wrong!
We just loved and valued our relationship with an officer who died.
Being exposed to this loss does not make me contagious. By avoiding me and the remembrance of this officer, you inflict secondary injuries that we do not deserve.
So who am I?
I could be you.
1974 co-worker survivor
This poem came about because of a friendship that started when I met Jolin Lowry, a police widow, who was attending grief seminars conducted by Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) in 1998. These sessions occur annually in May, during National Police Week in the Washington DC area.
Jolin, who is from Tacoma, WA. wanted to continue a conversation that started during a breakout session on Creating a Caring Agency. I was a Milwaukee, WI. Police officer who facilitated this session. I subsequently became a sounding board for a survivor who lived 2000 miles away from me. A lack of understanding on the part of some police administrators, along with a murder and wronful death trial, were some of the many hurdles that she would face during her grief journey. There was much to listen and to talk about.
Survivor’s guilt had consumed me from the time of my partner’s death in 1974 until I became involved in the COPS organization in 1987. Listening and sharing my thoughts and resources provided a reprieve that I, as a surviving co-worker, needed.
During one conversation Jolin told me that some officers, when they found out who she was (a police survivor) or (the widow of…) she was sometimes treated differently or avoided. I had heard this from many other survivors. They felt like they have the mark of Cain on their forehead. There is much more to their life than the death of their officer.
This is what inspired me to write the poem “Who Am I”. After writing this poem, I told Jolin, it’s your poem. She responded, no it’s our poem.
This therapeutic friendship has been immensely important to me. So, who am I? I am more than I was yesterday.
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