by an Anonymous Veteran & Law Enforcement Officer
There’s a deafening silence that haunts my soul as my head hits the pillow and my eyes close.
Penetrable thoughts race through my mind. A subtle voice whispers in my ear as my senses fight
to forget the memories of those fateful tragedies.
“You did everything you could. You cannot prevent the forces of pure evil that lurk in the night claiming the lives of the innocent.”
The lifeless, empty, gaze of that pregnant woman who had been stabbed to death. She lay on the red saturated pavement, reaching out with her hand. She knew it was her last breath. She didn’t want to go alone.
Her full-term baby was beyond saving. His innocent soul took the brunt of the trauma. He was set to be born that evening. “You cannot save them all,” the voice whispers. You cannot make sense of the soul-less, vile creatures, the evil that walks this earth. Sometimes, you are too late to stop it.
The beads of sweat stream down my temple. My heart pulses through my neck. The heaviness in my chest is almost too much to bear. The intangible sleep that awaits is now out of sight. Breathe. Close my eyes again. Pray the faces disappear. Slowly inhale. The oxygen permeates my lungs before I exhale slowly. Deliberately. Forbear the urge to escape.
The inundation of piercing screams from the young girl I pryed off of her boyfriend’s inanimate, mutilated body after he jumped from the 12th floor of his highrise apartment.
The young Marine who answered the door was covered in his best friend’s brain matter and blood. A brotherhood forged through childhood and military service, shattered by an evening of booze and a devastating accidental discharge.
The pain-truck face of the little girl who had been sexually assaulted by her uncle, repeatedly in her own home. Her innocence savagely stolen at the age of 8. My daughter is 8. The anger that was quelled begins to infuse my bloodstream.
Their faces. Their screams. They remain burned in the forefront of my mind, waiting for the opportunity to forcefully invade my memory without welcome.
The paralyzing sensation of convalescence takes over until I drift off into a depthless sleep for a few trivial hours.
The clock ticks.
A new day emerges.
The alarm clock blares in my ears.
My head pounds, the sun peers through the windows.
It pains my sleepless eyes.
The blood-curdling screams subside.
Their haunting faces retreat back into the darkest of places in my mind.
“Mommy! Good morning!” Her angelic voice brings me back to the center.
I am safe in the light of the day.
My thoughts are my own.
She saves me in every imaginable way.
The night awaits…the night always waits.
The darkness that holds my mind captive without warning,
like a prisoner of war,
sits quietly in the shadows of the night,
patiently waiting for someone to set them free.
The light in my soul fights to keep it out.
The light carries my purpose… and purpose keeps me alive.
I must hold onto that.
Purpose can subdue the heaviest of nights and keep the demons at bay
If only for just one more day.
The burden of this gun and badge is my own to bear.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on February 17, 2021.