It's like when you're meeting someone at the mall, say, and you see them before they see you, and you get to witness what life is like for them when you're not in it. You get to see the him or her as they are when alone, with an enclosed aura reserved only for life among strangers, but in which he or she exists unself-consciously, moving through the wider world as an individual, arranging the place mats and cutlery just so at a table for one.
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In the wee hours of Saturday morning, one of our police officers as-yet-inexplicably ran off the road, was pinned in his patrol car, and as he tried to communicate his location to dispatch, the car caught fire. By the time they found his car, it was totally engulfed. His funeral is on Thursday.
Russell Willingham. He was 28, an officer for four years (two with our department), and married. We didn't know him personally, as he worked midnight shift and started with the WSPD at the same time Noah transferred to his non-patrol squad.
This is quite unfortunately the second police funeral in as many years, and there's something particularly awful about a funeral for a person whose death was purely purposeful or happened because that person pulled the lottery ticket on an unlikely but ever-possible job hazard. The last two police funerals we had, the two sergeants had been murdered. We're still not sure why Officer Willingham went off the road or why his car caught fire, but his death was a direct result of his profession, just like the two before him, and the dozens before them.
These kinds of things are always a shock to the system of a police family, because in order to function, we have to ignore that persistent yet unpredictable life-or-death possibility. We must avoid a full empathetic experience of our unlucky friends, because we are in the same shoes already, only we're still balancing on the precipice.
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Ethan has enjoyed fiddling with our camera lately, and I truly love seeing the things he finds interesting or lovely. Ethan's little life moves forward in a perspective of wonderment and simplicity, and that's a world worth watching.