I have had several emails asking me about a picture I posted a few weeks ago, sharing one of the photos from Bill's accident. Since I did not say what happened, and have not in many months or even year on this blog, I thought I would share what happened that placed us on the path that we are on, living a humble, simple life on the farm.
On January 1, 2005 until around 9 pm, I was a content wife of a law enforcement officer. Life was wonderful, we had great pay, great benefits, and I never thought about not being able to afford anything. As to medical and dental insurance, we had top of the line.
Bill had worked New Year's eve, as you can imagine, it is a busy night for law enforcement. Then he was called out early the next morn, getting only an hour or so sleep. He then worked the entire day, here and there, fielding calls. It had snowed that night and he was up in the mountains working although we lived on the southern end of the county. The kids and I spent New Year's with a bunch of teen age boys basically chaos of kids. Bill spent the night up north, as that was where the bars were. When he did end up taking that hour or so to sleep, he went to my brothers house to sleep. That is the life of a law enforcement family, long hours, which we worked around.
Bill called me around 5 pm or so and told me he was heading home. Around 7 pm he was not home, but I did not worry as things happen that cause delays. By 8 pm I had the younger three kids in bed as they were exhausted. My oldest was 15 and opted to stay up with me and get the house back in order. He was finishing dishes when a knock on the door startled us both. I opened the door and it was an older woman, the wife of a county commissioner who I knew, but did not really know. I had said hello to her, but had never had any real conversations. Anyhow, she just walked past me plopped herself on my couch, without saying anything to me. As Bill was the resident officer of the town, we were used to locals coming directly to the house to have their issues resolved. That is the way it is in small towns. So I offered her a glass of water and waited. She still would not speak, so I assumed it must have been a doozy of a fight she had with her husband and she was cooling off.
No problem I thought and sat down and watched television while she was quiet on my couch. About ten minutes after she had been on my couch, I started hearing sirens, and said something like, I pray that everyone is okay. She still said nothing. By fifteen minutes, I began hearing commotion outside. We lived in a little subdivision with about 20 houses, so this noise was very unusual, and then my life changed forever. The door once again startled me, but this time it was a hard pound, just one knock. As I walked slowly to the door, it was exactly like you see in the movies as everything was connected, I realized something happened to Bill. I looked at the woman, and slowly opened the door. It was a fellow officer of Bill. He was a young guy, barely 24, and very meticulous about his uniform, and how he looked. We used to joke about how perfect he was. Not on January 1. I looked at his shirt which was a plaid button up(not his uniform), one side tucked in, one side not and his uniform pants...with his hair a mess, and knew that Bill was dead. He had come to tell me the news, as most wives have scanners, as does everyone else in the community, he was sent to tell me before I heard from anyone else. This was probably the hardest thing to date for him in his short career thus far, as he grew up knowing Bill as small towns- everyone knows everyone else.
I immediately turned to the commissioners wife on the couch, as it dawned on me that she knew, and actually said "YOU KNEW." She later told me that those two words devastated her, but she came to be with my children once I was informed. How amazing was she? That is a small community. She did not know me any more than I knew her before this night. But she understood what needed to be done and did so, biting the inside of her mouth not telling me anything until I was officially informed. D, as I will call the young officer, had been told that Bill was not alive or was so bad off, because he believed that Bill was dead. I remember looking out my front door and seeing the street filled with cars, and tons of people talking and looking to my house. It was surreal and cloudy as much as clear to me. I immediately clicked into function mode, and told D no one comes in the house, and no one says anything to the children, as I was going to have D take me to my sweet husband of 16 1/2 years so I could say goodbye. It would be the least I could do, as I loved him with all my heart and soul. D told me no problem, and I saw my oldest peeking out from the kitchen and told him to wait a moment, I needed to tell him something. I then called my brother who lived 80 miles away, and said you need to come. I then took my oldest and went to the boys room and told the boys they needed to get up and awoke my daughter. I took them to the family room where the commissioners wife was and looked to her eyes and she understood...as I was going to lie to my children. I then sat them down on the floor and told them that dad had been in an accident and I was going to be with him....I said nothing else, except we were going to say a prayer for him. Even the commissioners wife knelt on the floor with us. I then ran to my bedroom and tossed on clothes and then hugged the kids and out I went. My oldest in all his amazingness, had ran to his room and grabbed about $ 100 in cash which he had been saving and placed in my hand as he hugged me. This would be important later on, as I did not even grab my purse as I left.
To fast forward this narrative, as we were heading to the scene, we hear frantic chatter, that begins calling for Flight for Life. It dawned on me that Bill was not dead as first suspected, and so I was taken to the high school football field to meet up with him while they waited for flight. Bill was a mess, blood all over, and he had no clue babbling incoherently. As I sat by Bill's head in shock I suppose, D stood near the end of the stretcher and looked to me, and then said "Bill, do you feel this?" and squeezed his toes really hard. Bill flinched, and D gave me a lopsided smile to let me know that perhaps Bill was not paralyzed.
Sometimes things happen, and then the next step is up to you. What will you do when bad stuff happens? Will you be able to move on? I confess that for five or six months of therapy and rehabilitation were hard on me, as I longed for the old, while slowly realizing that things were forever different. We then regrouped and made a game plan which took us to our farm and our lives here in New Mexico.
Those who serve to protect live lives somewhat separate from others as it is shift work and filled with things many people will never see nor understand a cops life. For us we had to reinvent who we were as all we had known was military and civilian law enforcement. It has taken five years of physical adjustment. I am thankful that my tomorrows have had Bill in them as is. Here is the inside of the patrol car. Bill's head usually touches the ceiling as he is so tall.
Although Bill was in and out of consciousness, when he woke up he called in his own accident to almost the exact mile marker post. His call was heard by the commissioners wife and that is why she came over. She later told me that he sounded hollow. Before any first responders could show up, a truck driver saw the lights in the desert off the road and quickly called it in, and ran through the terrain to help. This truck driver was the sheriff's son. I will always be grateful to those who put themselves in my Bill's and my life and acted without thinking, as in times of crises that is what is needed. Those not immediately impacted can be the calm of the storm.
So now you know that sometimes things happen and as a result of things happening, I live on my beautiful farm that faces a breathtaking view of the mountains. I must relay that it is perception much more than reality, but life is how we see things, more than how things really are.
Thank you God for January 1, 2005