The view now is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes disgusting and sometimes challenging or disappointing. The view changes daily, but not as dramatically as it did before. It has been a year since I last bore my shield and worked in a police car. In that year, I have started wearing another uniform, this one consisting of a tie and starched white or blue shirt, simple khaki pants and still my same shined leather shoes. The badge I display now simply opens doors for me into and out of the office where all of the other government workers dwell and deal and survive and sometimes even thrive. Yes, the view has indeed changed.
I sleep now, sometimes very well. The nightmares are growing fewer and fewer. I still hear their voices, hear their cries for help from my past, but they are growing dimmer by the day. I smile more now. I do still get to protect and serve those young people that I care about, but I do not get to see the faces that I impact, and they will never know me. They call it policy making and program management. I still call it caring. The difference mostly lies in the fact that I can do it Monday through Friday and see my family at night.
I no longer must stop a mile from the house to cry or to take deep breaths, so my family does not see the pain or the rage or the fear. I still see the pain of those I wept for, but usually its in the form of numbers on a page. But unlike those around me, I know so much more about what those numbers mean, about who those numbers truly are. It still can impact me, I still get calls and take time to visit with old friends and colleagues, fellow Guardians who followed the same path. We still cry, we still shake hands and stare into each other’s eyes because we have shared the same nightmares and fought the same battles. But then, I get to drive away and I no longer look into the rear-view mirror as much.
I can start writing again because my shame is gone. At first, I felt as if I were a coward, sneaking away from my calling in the night and turning my back on the countless others who needed my help. It was hard, looking in the mirror was difficult. Waking up and not sliding a holster on and walking with a shield and gun into the world as its defender, as if I alone could right the wrongs and help those who could not help themselves. I don’t remember what it felt like. But I know I was right, there were others who did follow. They were extraordinary Guardians with as much passion and perseverance as I once had. I can sleep now knowing that they have the Watch and I am under their protection. It is a sounder sleep than I have ever known.
And when those first rays of sunlight begin to sneak through the cracked blinds of my window, I do not dread their arrival. I smile and thank God that he has blessed me with another day. Another day to try to make a difference. Another day to live and not live with fear or pain, but to simply live. Yes, the view is truly different now.