Saturday, January 11, 2020

Rough Patches

Rosa* and her family were going through a rough patch.  Housing was a problem and they ended up in a hotel room.  She, her husband and all of the children slept on one bed.

One day turned into more days and the patch got rougher.  Rosa's husband was particularly stressed.  She and the children found him cold in the bed.  A heart attack ended his life during the night.  They called the police.

Hotel Room
Joe was one of the first officers on the scene.  Though he didn't speak Spanish, he understood much of what Rosa's family was saying.  The laments and howls, the questions and prayers were in Spanish but he understood; his heart understood.

Through a translator he explained that Rosa's husband had to remain in the bed until the medical examiner arrived.  Foul play had to be ruled out.  They waited in the haze of grief and sorrow.  He remembered some of what he heard while they waited and Googled the meaning later.  After the medical examiner arrived, the ambulance workers removed Rosa's husband.  There were other people waiting for help and Joe had to go to the next emergency. 

Joe recalled Rosa's story as I rode in the cruiser with him.  If time heals wounds, Joe needed more time.  He could still see the images of Rosa's family.  I listened as Joe recounted the night and I saw that memories still tugged at him.  Since seeing Rosa, he'd kept going from call to call without processing the pain.  More tragic stories, families in crisis and indifferent neighbors occupied space in his memory.  He doesn't get to talk about things much because of the pace of his work.

Police Cruiser
I listened.  Through Joe, I met Rosa and her children.

The more he spoke, the more he realized the importance of talking about his experiences.  I prompted him with a question or two.  While he talked, I silently prayed for his comfort.  Six hours into the ten hour shift, he mentioned that he hadn't been to church in a while.  I knew a pastor in his hometown and texted him the link.  At the end of the shift, I asked if he wanted prayer. 


I don't know how many people have listened to Joe's pain or connected him to a community of believers or held his hand in audible prayer.  I know many who would if they could, but riding with officers isn't for everyone.

In this season, I feel called to be present, listen, and serve as God gives me strength.

* Actual names not used


  1. Thank you for sharing. Your role is so important. I was a MFR for 13 years and ran with a fire dept. There are things you can't un-see. Our chief was good about not letting people leave until it had been processed. It's really important. Bless you brother.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement DeAnn. Your counsel, reminder and warning are received. Please pray with us for safe returns each shift. Prayer support key. Appreciate you Sis...bless you.