I was startled awake by the sound of my daughter crying as she had just woken from her nap. My excess grogginess and inability to snap to attention told me that we had been sleeping for a long time. I scanned the room for the clock. We had slept three and a half hours! I rallied to my feet and walked down the hallway to Carli's room. I rousted her from her bed and carried her out to the living room. I made my way to the love seat again and as I set her down on her feet I noticed she had a piece of lollipop in her hair from the treat I gave her after church. My sleepy brain was searching for information on sticky lollipop from hair removal instructions. I knew that peanut butter would take gum out but does it do the same for lollipops? As I was looking at the sticky lock of hair I heard a car pull into the driveway. I could see the driveway in full view from my bay window. It was just a police cruiser. I am the last house on my street in my town so turning around in my driveway was a usual occurrence, especially for the police who routinely patrolled my rural street in search of speeders. I turned my attention to the sticky situation my daughter was in briefly when I heard a car door shut. The officer was making his way down my walkway toward my door. I was still unfazed as I let go of Carli's hair and headed to greet him. A pair of officers had shown up unexpectedly at night the week before asking if we had dialed 911, thinking they were in the next town. I had assumed this visit would be a repeat of last week and opened the door with a smile and greeted the officer.
"Are you Brittany Hudson?" the officer asked in a purposeful voice.
"Yes, I am" my tone reflected inquisitiveness.
"May I come in?" he asked, of course also letting me know that not coming in really wasn't an option.
Now my heart was racing. I made my way out of the door way and into my living room. Standing in between my living room and my kitchen island I turned to face him. All I could think of was "What did I do? I was in church all morning!". He faced me and paused for what seems to be a decade. He also put his hand over his gun and for a second I thought I was about to be arrested. Was he really going to arrest me in my own home in front of my toddler? His voice lowered as he remained like a statue with his full attention toward me. He zeroed in like a laser on my face. Now I was scared. What was going on?
"I have some news. It's bad, it's really bad" I could almost barely hear him, he got so quiet.
My mind went to Greg possibly on his way home from Maine. Had he been in a serious accident?
I could only focus on that for a split second when his third sentence came, "Your husband passed away this afternoon" .
I don't think I have the resources to try to describe how those words felt and really be able to bring some justice to the emotions behind them. I felt like an avalanche of snow had just covered my body. My mind sounded like an ocean wave as I reeled and tried to digest the information. I felt like I was going to pass out so I told him I needed to sit down. I made my way to the couch and plunked down. I tried to speak, I had questions but I was so overcome all I could do was wail and sob. I lost fifteen minutes of time. Who was there, what was said or where Carli was, I really don't know. I vaguely remember her standing in the middle of the living room staring at the two of us, having no idea how much her life had just changed since this morning.
My mind broke of its chaos for a moment and I stopped crying. I had to call someone. It occurred to me that I needed someone there. I announced to the officer that I needed to make a phone call and walked over to my kitchen island to get to my cell phone. I really wanted to reach out to someone but my mind had begun racing again and I couldn't focus on a single name or face of anyone I needed to talk to. I instinctively dialed my parents' number. My dad picked up and so did my emotions. I relayed the information to him between sobs and he announced that he would be right over. He didn't even say good bye before he hung up. I was relieved that he was on the way but it would take him an hour to get to me. My mother was much farther away, visiting a friend so I wasn't sure when she'd be arriving so I frantically thought of someone else to call. I needed someone, anyone, to be there with me. I didn't want to be alone. Who was nearby? Who was home? My brain could not complete a thought pattern no matter how hard I tried to focus. I was frustrated by my own inability to think clearly. I dialed my supervisor from work as she lived right down the street but she didn't answer. I looked at the clock and realized it was time for evening services at my church so no one from church would be home. I called my pastor's home anyway and left a message knowing he would call back as soon as he was able. I had to sit tight and wait for my dad to come.
I looked at this poor officer standing frozen in front of my kitchen island. I somberly announced that the only person I could get a hold of was an hour away. He asked if there was anyone else at all that I could reach out to, there wasn't any that I could think of. He radioed to his dispatch from the microphone on his shoulder that he'd be staying until someone arrived to be with me. I was so grateful for his generosity, the idea of sitting by myself was one of the most dreadful and agonizing things I could think of doing. We looked at each other silently for a brief moment and then I spoke.
"Thank you for being here. I really need someone here". I am sure he could hear the desperation in my voice amongst the steady stream of tears.
"This is one of the hardest things there is to do in this job. I've only had to tell a young wife this once before in my sixteen years on the force."
Hearing this made me humanize him. I didn't think of how difficult this must be for him to interrupt a woman and her sweet little toddler on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, to bring information that would shatter her life forever. The weight of it must have been incredible even for the two mile drive from the police station to my home. I took him in. He was less than average height, very dark hair and dark eyes. He had a kind face. He didn't look like he'd been out of the academy more than a few years, let alone sixteen. He informed me that he had a wife and two children of his own and that he only lived a couple of miles from me. The information was comforting even if it seemed a bit random and out of place. He wanted to let me know that he was a real person too, not just a uniform.
"Didn't someone call you?" he asked.
I looked at my cell phone call list and checked for a voicemail but there was nothing there. I also went to my home phone but no calls had come in while I was sleeping and no indication of a message there either.
"No, nothing" I reported. "I've been home all afternoon too".
"Would you want to call me? I now looked at him with my eyebrows raised.
"No" was all he said.
"Me neither" I said. "No one was supposed to call me. You are a God appointment. You were supposed to be here". I held confidence in my voice.
"I can't imagine getting this news over the phone here by yourself" he added. "I am glad I can be here with you".
He turned his mind and attentions to my little girl who had been quiet this whole time and had been fixed on him and his uniform. I had suddenly realized that Carli had been there amongst all this without a peep. Even in her little mind, she must have felt the gravity of the situation.
He smiled down at her brightly and said "Hi there!"
Carli smiled a little but she was confused. I walked around him and picked her up so she could get a better look at him and know that he was "okay". I instructed her to say hello back and the three of us talked about the police and how they help people. I told her that this nice police officer was here to help us and that if she ever needed help to find someone who had clothes on just like him. He also let me know during that time that since the department had known what happened and since I lived in a more remote area of town on a big, secluded plot of land, that they would be spending extra time patrolling the neighborhood and to call if there was any reason that I wanted them there. That was such a blessing to here. I really didn't like being home alone with Carli, even just overnight. It was too quiet. I knew he'd refuse, but I offered him a drink or to sit down. As I thought, he politely declined. He spent a whole hour on his feet waiting for a friend or family member of mine to arrive. I was feeling very indebted to him for that.
As I walked Carli toward the living room to sit down I saw my dad pull up his truck in front of the house. I sighed with relief to see someone that I loved finally come to my rescue. The truck lurched as he quickly came to a stop. Not bothering to walk around my post and rail fence to the walkway he hopped over it and ran to my door which by now I had come to and opened for him. He grabbed me into a big bear hug and he reached the top of the stairs. He practically ran into me, squeezing as he was softly crying and telling me how sorry he was. We embraced for a moment and he gathered himself together emotionally and broke away toward the inside of the house. I followed him in and the police officer who had so dutifully stayed with me once again expressed his condolences and left silently. My dad had asked me what happened but I only had scattered details at that time. I was still awaiting some kind of word from one of his friends that he was away with. What I knew is that he had been found by some passers by on the road. He was face down and his friend's dog was with him. He had been out walking Steve's dog. I knew what that meant. He had had a heart attack.
My heart skipped as I thought of his two friends, Steve and Rick. I imagined what it must have been like to have this all take place while they were away, especially on a weekend away to bond and help each other through some difficult times. I wondered if they didn't want to call or where they afraid to tell me what had happened. I really wanted to hear from them, to tell them it was okay and that I was so sorry they had to go through this. I ached for their pain too. As much as I needed comfort, I wanted to comfort them all the more. I wished I had a number to reach them at to call but I didn't even know what town they were in to call information. I just had to wait until one of them called.
Don't Pray For Me
6 years ago