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Today is my husband’s FOREVER 35th Birthday!
September 7th, 2006 was the last birthday he reached.
He was 35. Today he would have been 45.
I used to tease him that he was a cradle robber because he was 4 1/2 years my elder and when we started dating I was only 16, so that was a big deal (not sure what my mother was thinking, but thank god she wasn't).
As I’ve continued to age past you these last 10 years, I often think of the things you're missing out on when I reflect on how things have changed since the last birthday you were here to celebrate:
*There was no texting then. When it was discussed on the news for our future generations, you said that it would only be used by "children and cheaters." There were no iPhones or phones that didn’t act like walkie talkies and beep beep to each other……..pagers were only for pimps, doctors, and cops.
*There were no DVR's yet to record your favorite hunting shows while you had to work and I know you would have loved Duck Dynasty!
*No one we knew was on Facebook. I am fairly certain I can say you wouldn't have had one anyway. If you had it would have been total “black ops style” with a fake name and picture of someone with a gun. You would only stalk people, and rarely interact with them. Your friends list would have about 23 people on it, and they would all be cops or family.
*Gas prices were around $1.82 a gallon. Speaking of gas, we only had 2 cars. Both of our kids were in elementary school and neither of them were driving yet. It’s probably a good thing I had to teach them to drive, because your temper would have resulted in either a wrecked car with a fist through the windshield or a child who wanted to just ride the bus until they graduated.............. or both.
*Madison just started her second year of college and is working on getting her nursing degree. She’s as feisty as you wanted her to be, smart, and so beautiful inside and out. She is so different than you would have remembered her. She’s taken after you in so many ways; like wanting lots of alone time, sticking up for the underdog, and speaking her mind even when it goes against the grain. She's learned that the popular thing to do isn't always right, and the right thing to do isn't always popular.
*Hunter hadn't learned to shave yet or even tie his own tie yet when you died. He's now out of college and working at the jail like you used to. Yesterday we celebrated HIS sons birthday! He's a daddy now and has changed so much over the last two years it's even hard for me to believe. He's unbelievable with his son just like you were with yours. He's caring, thoughtful, protective and appears to have a hard exterior shell but actually has the softest heart towards he loves. I know in my heart there have been times you've been there for him when he needed to most. Keep that shit up please.
*Your parents have been amazing and are doing so well. We had dinner with them the other night and I think you would be surprised to see how cute they are together. As much as your death has challenged them and broken their hearts in two, I pray that it continues to bring them closer together. They are two of my favorite people in the whole wide world and I will forever be grateful that you brought them into my life.
*Your boys in blue (and tan) ........you would also be proud to know that they have been there for us through everything! I've had to call them more than once for help and they're always amazing to respond! Whether it's calling to check on one of the kids or I, or riding their bike across the state of Iowa on RAGBRAI in your memory, or most importantly showing us that "we will never forget" were not empty words that people say but don't mean. Over the past few years these officers have really been challenged in their jobs and I pray that you will continue to have their six and make sure they are able to go home every night to their families.
*As far as the changes in me go, there are far too many to list. I feel like I have taken on your personality at times. One of the things I am proudest of is that your lack of patience combined with your courage has given me the strength I needed to start an Iowa Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS). I fight for COPS family members when they lose a Police Officer in the line of duty to ensure their voice is heard. I fight for their department to have the support they need to honor and grieve their officer. Your drive for training your boys to do things the right way in SWAT has led me to training police departments, statewide, on how to prepare for and respond to line of duty deaths. On your last birthday, in 2006, I was still working as a Preschool Director at Easter Seals where the audience I dealt with included ‘hate’ and ‘butt’ as the naughtiest words that were allowed to come out of my mouth. Unfortunately now, my vocabulary includes things that are not appropriate for many Navy ships but I will give you this............it gets shit done. COPS is a baby I've handed over to others but will always be a part of me in some way.
*Last, but certainly not least, our love story and the feelings I still have for you have fueled me in a strange way to create another chapter in my life that I know you would have wanted for me. Our love has proven that living one day without that feeling is something you can never get back, so I choose not to waste any days without it. I have fallen in love with someone who's been an amazing friend for 12 years. He will be there with me tonight and choke down the crown shot with all of us, he will console me when I miss you, and he will honor you by loving me as hard as he can even when I don't make it easy. He is a gift I will forever treasure because as my love with him grows, so does my love for you. Happy Forever 35th Birthday to my first love.
I will forever be grateful of the years I had with you.
I will always wish I had more.
I will never forget……………….SWAT.
September 8, 2016