I heard the news of your husband's heroic and tragic fate on Facebook. It was then when I first 'met' you through a mutual friends post in which he tagged you, it was only then that I could have found you there because you had eliminated your last name on social media, as many LEO's and LEO's spouses have done due to recent events and concerns for their and their family's safety.
After I 'met' you there, and after my small children went to bed I wanted to learn more about you. My heart immediately sank. You ARE us, the difference is that your sweet Blake has been taken and my husband is still putting his uniform on each day. I scrolled through your page and saw that you were happy. Happiness reflected in your eyes, in the moments quickly captured through photo's and video's. Your love for your heroic husband, your beautiful son, and animals was apparent through the moments you had shared with the world on your page.
I also saw that you had shared Tommy Norman's recent video he made when visiting St. Louis. This struck me because I had shared a similar post and have been following Tommy Norman for some time. That day on September 28th when you shared his video, I can only imagine that you were thinking the same that I was when I shared a similar video: It's wonderful that there is a community behind our husbands, behind the men and women who serve because I wasn't so sure that there was. His visit and the social media posts around his visit gave me hope, hope that there were people who still recognized and appreciated what our husbands do and risk everyday. This was important to me because up until 2 weeks and 2 days ago it hasn't felt that way, it hasn't felt like people appreciated what our families are doing for their families.
I also saw that you had shared a video and tagged Blake. Many who aren't married to LEO's may not understand why we sometimes communicate with our husbands via social media. But as a wife, I understand that waking hours together are scarce and when we are lucky enough to align their time off with our waking hours the time needs to be 100% focused on family and the good in life - in hopes that it will outweigh the horribleness they see and face everyday. Our spouses are strong and brave, they have actively and knowingly made the choice to continue to do what they do even though they are aware of the risk, but occasionally we feel the need to remind them to 'be careful' because we love them and it makes us feel better to send the message. You're post from September 24th halted my breath. You were reminding your husband to be careful. Your post said, "3 seconds is all it takes." The shared content detailed a fairly graphic video of an altercation and a post that began, "It takes less than three seconds for a suspect to reach maximum violence. Will you be ready?" I don't know for sure, but I think you shared it because this is our worst nightmare. We know we have strong spouses that are trained to be alert, professional and on guard. We also know that there are instances that even Superman couldn't avoid and we pray daily that this instance won't be one that our loved one comes into contact with.
Why am I writing all of this? We'll it's simple, kind of. My heart is broken for you, your son and your family tonight and has been for the last two weeks and a day (2 days actually by the time this will post). At my last count there were over 2000 officers shared between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. There are additional officers who serve in surrounding municipalities. That is more than 2000 officers, 2000 significant others, 2000 moms, 2000 dads, 4000 children, and 2000 siblings - this doesn't include friends or extended family. That means there are 14,000 of us who, at some point in the last 2 weeks and 2 days have imagined ourselves in your shoes. We see you Elizabeth, and our hearts are hurting for you - because we know. We don't know what it's like but we know that you are living the nightmare many of us have thought about and quickly pushed out of our minds. We have a taste of how incredibly hard it would be to raise children by ourselves because we have nights and weekends we cover without our significant others because they are serving the public and 'getting the bad guy' as my 2-year-old's say. We understand why you posted a terrifying and graphic video that was seemingly in direct conflict with the calm, beautiful, love filled photos that otherwise filled your feed and we understand why you commented '3 seconds is all it takes' and tagged your husband. We know that it could have been any of us sitting in your seat, getting the phone call and the news that the other half of our lives is gone. We have all run through that awful scenario in our heads, and breath a sigh of relief daily when we hear the sound of a police radio belted to the people we love walk through the door. But it wasn't us, it was you....and we see you.
While it is clear that you have tremendous support and for that we are all incredibly grateful. We who have imagined ourselves in your shoes, also know it is you that will have to stand up and handle raising your sweet son on your own. It is you who will bear the responsibility of the day to day activities, it is you who will have no one to kick at night when your baby is crying and you need daddy to help because you are exhausted from the day, and it is you who will navigate the awful challenge of somehow relaying and instilling in your son how amazing his father truly was in a way that he can comprehend, understand and remember as the years progress. It is you who is wondering what your son is ingesting from this entire situation and it is you who is worried that your son will ask again, "Where is Daddy?" And it is you who will also worry about the day he won't ask. Because we are mom's and that is what we do. We just do.
As this post may go down in history as the longest post I've ever written, I promise I'm getting to my point. This is long, but it's important. I truly in my heart of hearts believe that out of incomprehensible bad there comes good. Not just good, but divine good. Divine is defined as: "of, from or like God." I also believe that we are chosen for our paths. While it may feel unfair and we may not understand the "why" of circumstances when out of our control, I have to believe there is a "why" because without a why it is easy to get lost. So Elizabeth, today I'm writing this because I want to share the only "why" I can come up with after pondering this for the last two weeks and 2 days. I also want to share with you how you, your husband, your son and your family have impacted mine since the day we 'met' on Facebook.
It is no secret that in the last 24 months that there has been extreme media around police officers, their role in the community and it has impacted their lives. I would go as far as to say that many of our men and women who serve have had moments of unsureness that their daily risk was worth the benefit to those who rely on them. The overwhelming sentiment created [seemingly] by the media and strong voices illustrated through violence, seemed to be that these officers were a disposable commodity. This sentiment had a true impact on our civil servants. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch in an article written by Christine Byers titled, St. Louis County police losing officers at increasing rate,
"St. Louis County police officers are quitting the force in unprecedented numbers, leaving the commander's scrambling to fill vacancies."
According to St. Louis (KMOX), March 28, 2016, Officer Shortage Hits St. Louis City, County Police,
"Metropolitan Police Department Chief Sam Dotson says he's losing two or three officers every two weeks."
The men and women who risk their very lives each day began doubting their purpose and many of them began to quit. Those of us who live with the reality that or loved one's could be "next", began wondering if our personal risk was worth it. None of them, none of us, knew (really knew)....that people appreciated. But there it was, in honor of your Blake, his service and sacrifice; A crowd that rivaled the passing of royalty. A news story and funeral procession that stopped people in their tracks, forced them to take notice and bow their heads. It framed and spotlighted the appreciation our community has for those who are serving them daily. People stood up, children learned of the hero that had fallen, and many LEO's and spouses received 'thank you' phone calls and texts from our extended family and friends. And at the heart of this movement, this undeniable sense of community, the silent uprising of neighbors who had been quietly sitting behind their televisions for the last 24 months was your family Elizabeth - your heroic husband Blake and your beautiful son Malachi. I was not the only one who had taken notice of you and the happiness that reflected in your eyes, I was not the only one who had met you without ever meeting you. Blake and your young family were the people that 14,000 of us could directly relate to and that countless others loved from a slight distance. And I was not the only LEO wife to scroll far enough down into your feed to see that you had tagged your husband in a post 20 days prior to his fate that said, "3 seconds is all it takes," and was shaken to the core that your nightmare, our nightmare, had become your reality
It all seems so gross, so disgusting, to say that you somehow through the wholesome happy and full life you seemed to be living, received this fate. And I don't believe that fate is a cause and effect sort of thing, but what I do know is that people took notice. The love for your husband was evident and that evidence of love bred hope that day. Blake's story -your story- got people up out of their living rooms and made their silent appreciation for what our husbands, wives, and loved ones do visible. It renewed a sense of purpose for those who risk it all, it provided a renewed sense of reality for those of us who live along side it every day. It renewed a sense of good and community in a world that all to often seems so harsh and confusing. We were all forced to recognize the sacrifice that these men and women make daily not only because it happened, but because we could identify with you and your beautiful young family. Elizabeth - we see you, we appreciate you, we admire you and you're husband was a undeniably a hero - in many ways. He will never be forgotten. And as the days pass and the noise quiets and you find yourself alone with your son wondering, "what do I do now?" Know that we are praying for you, we are here for you. While we may not know each other, those of us that 'met' you on Facebook that fateful day would gladly do for you whatever we could because we all know it could have easily been one of us sitting in your shoes. Thank you for being wonderful. Thank you for the transparency that you have provided into the love that was your family that love has snowballed and knit together a community. Thank you for the sacrifice you and Blake made every day for the last 4 years. And it is with great remorse that I also thank you and your late husband, hero, Officer Blake Snyder for the ultimate sacrifice he made 2 weeks and 2 days ago.
That their hearts may be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is Christ Himself. - Colossians 2:2
To those that are still reading who are not the immediate family of Law Enforcement Officers but have been touched by Blake and Elizabeth's story; I will ask on behalf of the family of our men and women in blue to please remember this: Remember that there are bad things that happen every day, and each day you may not have to deal with them because someone else is. Remember that tragedy doesn't always strike in the form of death, there are many who suffer physically or mentally from the sacrifice they have chosen to make. Remember to thank those who serve our communities, out loud and in person. It shouldn't be that we only come together as a community to grieve the death of a fallen officer, while donations and support are certainly appreciated, a simple thank you speaks volumes. Gratitude keeps our men and women motivated and driven to do the important job they wake up and do each day, the job that we all need 'someone' to do. Simple words are so simple to say, so say them - Thank You.
To the Snyder family and all of the men and women who serve our communities, including my husband - "Thank you." We appreciate you and need you. We are forever indebted to you for dealing with the things we won't ever know about because you addressed them first. We will never know when we will need you and why, but we are thankful you are there and ready to assist if needed.
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