September 2, 2014.
We were living in a quiet northern suburb of Kansas City. Brad worked overnights and we were fresh off of Labor Day weekend.
Marshall (then two years old) and I were just waking up for the day; still in our pajamas, we made our way to the kitchen to get started on breakfast as day barely broke over the city.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
I jumped, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Someone wasn’t trying to give us an early morning wake up call; they were trying to get in.
“Hello?!” I called out, trying my best to even my voice “Hello, can I help you?” I didn’t move an inch towards the door, I tucked Marshall behind me as I grabbed my phone off of the kitchen table.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
It sounded like he was using his feet, kicking the door. My hands were shaking as I tried unlocking my cell phone. Marshall was crying.
“Mama!!” Marshall shrieked at the top of his lungs, his little hands pulling on the back of my shirt “Mama, boy! Boy, mama!”
I looked back to my son as he pointed to our kitchen window, facing the backyard. There was a second man trying to make his way around to the back door. It was as if the man kicking one door was trying to draw me close as the second made his way to the back.
“Marshall, you need to hide buddy. Hide right now.” I whispered as I dialed Brad directly. At two years old my son ran like his life depended on it, listening to his mother, he silently hid in a crook behind the couch.
I worked dispatch previously, I knew that I would have to answer each of their questions and have Brad dispatched to me in the end. I knew I didn’t have that time. So I used my privilege of being a police wife and called the police directly. I cried into the phone “Come home! Come home right now! There are men trying to get in!”
Running to the door as it buckled under the pressure of the intruder, I hit it full force with my body “I called the police! They are on their way!” The banging continued as I watched the second man try to get into the back door, through the kitchen. I looked at the couch, Marshall was staying put and remaining silent. I could only think of what would happen if they got in. How am I going to draw them away from my child?
Then I heard the most beautiful sound: sirens. My husband and a second officer were in route, and if I could hear this surely so could they. Sure enough, they both ran.
My fear remained but a new emotion washed over me: anger. I was angry that these men tried to come into my safe space, into my home. I was angry and felt violated. I was angry that my son was shaking behind a couch, hiding as if that were his lifeline.
I ran to the window and snapped a picture of the two assailants as they tried to flee. The one that was around the backdoor, wearing a black t-shirt, could easily tower over my 6’3 husband. The one kicking in the other door had something in his hands, quickly placing it in his saddlebags before departing.
I took this picture because I was angry, I wanted to make sure these men were caught. I also took it out of fear, fear that if my husband didn’t get to our home quick enough, that they might come back. Sending the picture to Brad while the sirens still sounded, closing in, the men pulled away at full speed. Turning left on our road, disappearing down a side street.
The squad cars flew past our house in chase, separating to try to cover more road to get them. I stood in the window, peaking through the curtains, frozen. For the first time throughout the whole ordeal it felt like I could breath. My heart pounded in my chest and I shook. Marshall.
“Buddy? Buddy are you okay sweetie? You can come out now.” I slowly made my way to the couch, closing my eyes tight and taking a deep breath- I needed to steady myself. I needed to be my son’s safe space, no matter how horrified I was at what just happened.
Still, he hid in silence. I got down on my hands and knees, slowly inching my face into the small space between the couch and the wall. There, my two year old laid in the fetal position, tears stained his cheeks, those big blue eyes were bloodshot and his tiny body was shaking uncontrollably. He knew he just encountered evil. I tried to coax him out, but he was in shock and could not be moved.
Eventually Brad got home, the next shift took up the search as Brad circulated the picture I sent him. He came in the door and my faux calm-mom demeanor instantly dropped. I was in tears; thrown onto his rigid kevlar vest, tears falling onto his badge.
He was white as a ghost, “where’s Marshall?”
That’s when our little boy broke his silence, when he heard his papa. Loud cries erupted from the couch now “Papa! Papa!” The whole couch shook. He knew the same as I did when I saw Brad come through the door: we were truly safe now.
It took some time, but Brad was eventually able to calm Marshall enough to get him out from his hiding space. We talked, I yelled, but we mostly just held each other; the three of us. Reeling from what transpired, thankful that it wasn’t worse.
The men were never caught, it is believed that they were involved with drug running. It took everything I had not to give Brad an ultimatum between his family and his career. I have no doubt he would leave it all in a heartbeat for us, but I also know that he was born to do this job and wouldn’t be nearly as happy and fulfilled doing anything else.
For awhile afterward we had an officer on our street, making sure we were okay. Anytime there was a knock on the door, no matter how benign, Marshall would run and hide; instantly thrown back into a state of terror and tears. His therapist worked with him and we were sure to warn anyone who came into our home: do not open the door if someone knocks, not without looking outside first.
Since then we have worked out security plans for the children and myself. We take precautions, guarding our home address closely. I smile as my husband leaves for his shift, but the memory of that day is never far from my mind as I close and latch the door behind him. My husband took the oath, but it is not just him that has been put in danger because of it. That’s what September 2 reminded us.