Tuesday, the 21th of January was a bit of a milestone day for Sam.
It marked the 10 year anniversary of when he became a police officer for the city of Rigby.
This occasion is something I look upon with mixed emotions.
I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad about it. I know I'm proud of him. 10 years in law enforcement is huge. 10 years with this town is almost unheard of. It has been exciting, tiring, fun, amusing, scary, sad, discouraging, frustrating and always suprising in one way or another.
I remember when Sam got the call that he was offered the job here. We were so excited. We jumped at the offer. It was the first (of many) offers he would get. Sometimes I wonder how different things would be if we had held out for those other offers. But, we were young and eager for our "real lives" to begin and we took the first thing that came.
I remember Sam calling me in the late afternoon about 2 weeks into this job. He had worked the night shift the evening before and there had been a double homicide and he was one of the first guys through the door. It was a bad one. He didn't tell me much about is (and still hasn't), but what he did tell me made me wonder if we really wanted to be exposed to the horrible that is out there. He hadn't slept in over 24 hours and since he was the new guy he had nearly worked a double shift at that point. He still wanted to be a cop though.
I remember how we moved to Rigby a month after he started and the day we moved. I remember Isabelle's horrible burn and the weeks of therapy and eventual skin graft. I remember living in a tiny apartment and not knowing a single person in this town and feeling very lonely. I remember trying to figure out how to make the paycheck stretch (and getting really good at it). I remember not having enough money to gas up the car more than once a month, so Sam and I would load Belle up in the stroller (I know, crazy, right?) and walk all over the city. We both learned the layout of this town through our long walks.
I remember the first time I got really, really sick and Sam couldn't get off work to be with me at the doctor. I remember having the flu over the years, having miscarriages and Sam couldn't get off work so I had to handle those things by myself. I remember missing family get togethers and feeling the guilt because we couldn't go because someone with more seniority wanted that same time off too or just didn't feel like coving a shift. I remember being so excited when Sam had seniority and how that meant the crazy, having to cover everyone else and no one covering him would change and we could maybe have a normal routine... and I remember when that fantasy came crashing down.
I remember all the months of having more month than paycheck. I remember the times when there wasn't money in the budget to pay for overtime so he just didn't get paid for all those hours. I learned quickly not to plan on the lowest amount possible in a paycheck and budget accordingly. I remember the excitement of paying off bills and whittling down debt. I remember how happy we were to have held onto enough money to pay for Angelina Jolie the minivan in cash and have one less bill a month.
I remember the first time an officer who made less than ethical choices fell of the pedestal I used to put all officers on. I remember when I realized they will all fall off eventually and that they are just human after all. I remember seeing my guy stand alone more than once when he knew things weren't as they should be and wishing I could do something more than hold his hand and tell him he was right. I remember the first time I understood why so many people don't believe in the police and wishing I could go back in time and never understand.
I remember having all these insane kids through this. I remember all the date nights when Sam picked up fast food on his lunch break and we would watch part of a show together and whisper while we ate so the babies wouldn't wake up. I remember driving to some of Sam's trainings in other towns and staying with friends so we could pretend we were on vacation. I remember how pretty much perfect that was.
I remember Sam missing recitals, plays, special games and dates with friends. I remember grocery shopping and Sam getting a call so we had to hurry and leave the cart and drive him back to town. I remember walking out the door for church alone and just wishing he didn't have to pick up that shift. I remember sitting in the very back of the church so he could slip in and out and sit with us for a few minutes. I remember snide comments people made about a husband who never goes to church and people thinking I must be divorced because I am always alone with a bunch of kids.
I remember all that and I remember the million times I've cried because I'm lonely, bored, mad, frustrated, scared and just sick of the glamourous life we live. I remember asking him to be an accountant instead of a cop, offering to work full time so he can quit and do something else. I remember arguing over big things and petty things that people shouldn't need to bicker over. I remember playing bouncer when people come over or call wanting him to be their personal cop. I remember hearing what others say about police officers and finally learning to just walk away instead of jumping up every time to fight that losing battle.
I remember all the different departments that have offered him new adventures over the years. I remember some that I really wanted him to take, but he has been loyal, probably to a fault to this little town. I remember feeling confined by the narrow viewpoints here and wishing for change. I remember being told I can't do something or associate with someone because of the job. I remember every moment I've thrown a fit over being just far enough in this life that my every move is watched and controlled by forces outside this house, but not being far enough in it to have a say on how that will affect me.
I remember this and I get happy and sad and angry and tired and amused and wistful and so many other emotions I can't seem to grasp right now.
But, then I remember why we are here.
I remember the woman who told me that my husband saved her. The family who brought us flowers to thank him. The man who hugged him for stopping him and protecting him. The times he came home late and when I asked why he told me someone needed him to stay a little longer until they were okay. I remember the stories I have heard from so many others and the first hand experiences I have had when I've seen him not merely enforce a law but protect and love and serve. If he was in this for the paycheck, he would have quit years ago. He is here because it is a calling for him and he truly loves the people he serves. Their worst day is his every day and even though that has taken pieces of his soul at times, even though is causes grief and frustration and affects 6 other people on a regular basis, it is worth it to help that one who needs his help.
The past 10 years have been hard.
I do imagine often what it would be like to find a new life, a new town, a new everything.
But, we wouldn't be who we are now. Maybe we would be better. Maybe not. Regardless, we have grown up a lot because of the past 10 years.
I have no idea what the future brings. Maybe I'll be here typing about 15 and 20 years here or maybe our world will change. I guess all I can do is wait and see.
So, I write this and commemorate a moment that was too far down the road to think about when we set foot in this town. I don't say "happy anniversary" or anything like that, but I do see this as a milestone that should be noted. Here's to the future and whatever it brings.