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Where were you when 2015 began?
At home, with family. We were celebrating Eli’s first birthday the next day!
Who were you with?
The Sullivan family, Scott family and Breese family!
Was 2015 a good year for you?
Yes. I had a great year! Not being pregnant, not working night shift, and not having a new baby does wonders for the ability to rest. There was a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, isn’t there always though? But it was a great year!
What countries/states did you visit?
Justin and I took a cruise with some family to Cozumel, Belize and Honduras. It was an awesome, relaxing, revitalizing experience.
Did you keep your new years’ resolutions?
Sort of. Yes, mostly. I wanted to go a year without eating candy – which I mostly did! No candy at Easter or Halloween, which are my two big holidays with stuff I love to eat. However, I did take a day off in May so everyone in the family could eat Wonka candy while watching Willy Wonka – Benjamin and I read the book, and followed it up with the movie.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Finally, NO. But next year Cory and Erin will be adding a new baby to the mix!
Did anyone close to you die?
Not particularly, but one of the Lieutenants that retired from Cedar Park passed away, and that was very sad because he was really an amazing guy. Also, we lost one of the Fire Department administrators at work, her name was Debbie and she was SO incredibly sweet. They both will be missed!
What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don’t think I have had any particularly standout dates.
What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
Taught my first “Train the trainer” in February for SAFVIC, which was an AWESOME experience!! Took both boys to their first baseball game in April. Sent my son to school – although that’s really more of a first for him than me! We bought a truck!
Did you have fun in 2015?
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Found more time to be a Husband and Wife instead of just Mom and Dad. Being married is a lot of fun, but if you don’t take time to have dates you really miss out on connecting. I exercised a lot, but I wish I had done more, more consistently.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I’d been injured/sick less.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31! We drove out to Houston to visit family. It was a quick turnaround trip, and I ended up offending one of my family members inadvertently, so I spent most of my birthday feeling like absolute crap over a breakfast plan misunderstanding. That’s the second year I’ve had a bad birthday experience for at least part of the day, so I think next year I’m going to make my husband take me away for the day! This year he bought me (besides the truck) a nice flannel shawl.
What did you want and get?
Justin and I have needed a vehicle with one more seat for some time, for the times we need to transport 4 kids and 2 adults (which is more often than you’d think). So we debated what to buy and finally pulled the trigger on a 2013 Chevy Silverado with low mileage and leather interior. I’m in love with it and we’ve already been camping once in it!
What did you want and not get?
Debt free. But my priorities shifted this year, and it is worth it to remain in debt because now I have the vehicle necessary to go camping. Also, did not get to spend more time outdoors. Spent a lot of time the end of the year working, and unfortunately all the days off I did get were usually bad weather days!
Whose behavior merited celebration?
Amanda. She doesn’t see me watching, but she’s turning into an incredible young lady.
Whose behavior made you appalled, depressed, or sad?
All the folks that left dispatch (Vanna, Charitie, Jared, Jen, etc) made me very sad.
Did somebody treat you badly in 2015?
Not particularly. I think there were a few situations where Justin wasn’t treated like he expected, and that had a significant impact on me since we’re married – so, sort of, but only as a bystander.
Who were some new people you met?
Vanna, Ginger and Jono.
What was your favorite month of 2015?
Probably August. We took the kids to the beach, Benjamin started school and Justin and I started our cruise (and finished it in September).
What was your favorite moment of the year?
Probably Benjamin starting school, when he looked at me and said he was good for us to leave him. So big! I’d also have to list Eli finally saying “I love you” back to me! Also, buying the truck with Justin!
What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Taking Eli to the hospital because he was having difficulty breathing. That was stressful and terrifying.
What was your favorite TV program?
STARGATE! Who’d have thought?
What was the best book you read?
Tough call. I read a BUNCH of books this year – it’s been really awesome having the kindle, I read so much more. The most EDUCATIONAL book I read this year was “Parenting your powerful child” by Kevin Leman. The most ENJOYABLE book I read was Ready Player One. And the book that was the most well written was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
What were your favorite films of this year?
Big Hero Six (I know I technically saw it for the first time the year before, but I watched it a LOT this year) I also really enjoyed Age of Ultron and Inside Out….I really missed a lot of good movies this year though due to schedule, so hopefully next year we can watch a few more.
What was your favorite video game you played this year?
What was your favorite new technology/application?
My fitbit! I got it at Christmas – so not much time to use it – but it’s already been well appreciated!
What was your greatest musical discovery?
I really enjoy the following songs this year:
Maps – Maroon 5
Let her go – Passenger
Honey I’m Good – Andy Grammar
Counting Stars – OneRepublic
Shut up and Dance with me – Walk the Moon
Thinking out Loud – Ed Sheeran
What was the best thing you bought?
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I made some good strides in priority evaluation and I lost quite a bit of weight. I also received an award at work for “Distinguished Leadership” which is an amazing honor that made me feel recognized in my efforts at improving relations between employee and employer. I’m so blessed to work where I am, and this award means quite a bit to me.
What was your biggest failure?
I just can’t eat healthy for nothin’! At least, not consistently. I keep trying!
Did you suffer illness or injury?
I got most of my PF under control but broke my ankle (well, hairline fracture, but it still hurt a lot!). I also got sick ALL of November and half of December with Bronchitis and sinus infections that would NOT end. Then I had tinitis (ringing in ears) until Christmas morning. However, it did make me more greatly appreciate my health and I’m going to try really hard next year to spend more time appreciating my good health when it’s around.
Where did most of your money go?
Medical bills. We were crazy sick this year, especially the boys. School starting and allergies did a number on our wallet!
What kept you sane?
Who did you miss?
Friends. All of them.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner!
iii. richer or poorer? POORER! But – happier. I’m willing to make the trade off.
Did you fall in love in 2015?
I usually say “over and over again” but I would have to say no – this year was one of the years where we worked hard to maintain – not in a bad way, just in a “we’re in this for the long haul and not every year is all roses” kind of year.
Did you lose anything important this year?
My church. I’m still feeling the effects. I’m heartbroken and I believe this is the right decision for my family, but it’s not an easy one and I’m so very, very sad.
What was your proudest moment of 2015?
Benjamin’s first piano recital!!!
What was your most embarrassing moment of 2015?
Calling someone “Fellatio” over the radio
(On a scale of: Very Good, Good, Fairly Good, Fairly Bad, Bad, Very Bad)
• Relational Health – Good
• Emotional Health – Good
• Physical Health – Fairly Good
• Social Health – Very Bad (My status did not change AT ALL in 2015, so I’m downgrading this and planning on working to address this next year!)
• Spiritual Health – Fairly bad
• Intellectual Health – Good
• Financial Health – Fairly good
In the future:
How will you be spending Christmas?
Already had it! We spent it at home, with the family, and it was awesome. Aunt Lynn, James, Teresa and Amanda joined us and there was lots of presents and lots of fun. We spent the day playing with the boys playing with all their new toys/games. I got a new Fitbit Charge HR, which I’m looking forward to having!
How will you be spending New Years?
Not sure – I work at 6am New Year’s day, so we will probably stay in with the family, maybe play some games, and enjoy time with them.
What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Hmmmm. I would like some more friendships. I would like to have a church home – which I did have for most of 2015, but lost at the end.
What are your plans for 2016?
To spend more time outdoors, to get Eli introduced to the potty (not trained, persay, but at least on his way), to get Benjamin riding a bicycle with no training wheels, to log more time on my bicycle, to get my BMI to 27.4 (170 lbs, right in the middle of “overweight” instead of obese. I previously set a goal at the start of 2015 to be at 185 by the end of 2016, but since I made it to 208 by the end of this year I decided to go ahead and aim for lower for the end of next year…we will see!
Will you make any new years resolutions for 2016?
Maybe. I don’t know yet – I am seriously considering taking a year long social media break.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:
You only have one life to live. This is it, folks, a few trips around the sun and then you’re dead. I believe this life is just a jumping off point for eternity, and I know not everyone believes that, but either way I believe and really learned this year that you have to make the most of it. Live hard, love harder, work hard, and push yourself. This is the only chance. You’re worth it to make the most of it.
So worry less about the bank account, but save as much as you can.
Try to be as healthy as you can, but enjoy a piece of cake now and again.
Set goals, push yourself, and strive for greatness.
I know that’s all really cliché advice but this year I really realized how true it is.
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars, yeah we’ll be counting stars
For those of you who don’t follow the news (and these days I don’t blame you) it has been a rough week for those involved in Public Safety.
- Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron from Austin Police Department. Shot and killed after responding to a drunk at Walmart. End of watch April 6, 2012.
- Deputy Sheriff Ryan Tvelia from Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office. Motorcycle accident. End of watch April 10, 2012.
- Deputy Sheriff Robert Paris from Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. Shot while serving an eviction. End of watch April 12, 2012.
- Police Chief Michael Maloney from Greenland Police Department. Shot while serving a drug related search warrant. End of watch April 12, 2012.
I don’t have words to express the heartbreak I feel for the the people in these agencies. For those in the public safety sector these names – whether or not we know them personally – represent brothers and sisters. These are people united in a cause of justice and community service. I have grieved a similar loss.
It’s easy to forget that cops are usually people just like you and I that want to go home to their family at the end of the shift. They post pictures of their kids on Facebook. They’re not always crooked or bad or focused on putting people in jail. They like to go to concerts. They want a safe place to live and raise their families, they want to see justice done, they want to help society catch bad guys. They dress up for Halloween. They like mexican food and sushi and drinking beer. They love football. Sometimes they drink. They go to church. They have husbands and wives and parents.
They serve, but they still cherish life. And when someone takes that from them… it’s difficult. I’m not a police officer, but I work side by side them every single day. I go to church with them, I talk to their wives, I smile when their kids succeed. I pray when they struggle. They’re humans. Now, granted, they’re humans who carry guns, but generally that’s only 40-50 hours a week. The other 120ish hours they’re sons and daughters and mothers and fathers. They’re friends. They’re usually good people (I say usually: I know some cops are bad, but they’re few and far between and not the focus of this writing).
Please, when you get the chance, when you see that patrol car flying code somewhere or driving behind you, please take a second to think about their job. The risk they take putting that vest on every day. If you see a police officer eating lunch, don’t ask them about the parking ticket you got last week – just thank them for trying to protect you. Nod and smile. Don’t break the law. Don’t shoot them and take their life. Is that so much to ask?
I wanted to write something about how this week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week – the week that dispatcher’s are recognized for their support of Police, Fire and Ems responders. But I can’t because my heart is heavy and broken and I wish there was more I could do.
Rest in peace, gentlemen.
Last week was not a good week for working on my balance. However, it was an amazing week for working on my work-related development! I was able to take an instructor course that helped me learn how to create lesson plans, match a power point to said lesson plan (which I pretty much knew, but the review was beneficial) and teach within a certain amount of time.
Those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear the hardest part for me was keeping it within a certain amount of time 😉
Usually training is not very energy-consuming, but this class took up all of my time/energy/brain power to pass. It was very informative and definitely worth the effort, but I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with the family. I’m really looking forward to next week, which will be much less stressful and unbalanced.
It’s interesting how much more mindful I am of the “balance” of my life now that I’ve listed that as my word to focus on this year. I always had issues with resolutions, and this is much less of a resolution and much more of a constant reminder – it seems to be working so much better.
I have grown to love bath time with Benjamin when he’s not being a complete and utter pain. He eagerly wants to help us wash him, as long as it’s not behind his ears. And I know I posted this on facebook, but it bears repeating:
Justin and I tend to give Benjamin baths together. It is one of the few, precious moments where we can be together and enjoy each other’s company without someone running away (ahemBenjamincough). One of our favorite things to do with Benjamin is teach him words. Words, my friend, are power. Words help people communicate and ask for their way!
So we teach him words, especially animals because that is the age he’s at right now. And he loves it. He loves horses, dogs, frogs, fish, turtles, sheep, pigs, cows, bunnies, dogs, bears, monsters, and did I mention dogs? So we’re in bath, and Benjamin has this mat from Target (which I love because of the Octopus, which is sadly not pictured). We ask him, where’s the shark? He points to the shark. Good job, Benjamin! Where’s the fish? He points to the fish. He also identified the octopus and the yellow fish (hey, it’s never too early for colors!)…the yellow fish thing might have just been a good guess, though, because he couldn’t find the green fish (or red fish, blue fish, haha, just kidding Dr. Seuss).
Then Justin asks him to find the frog. He starts looking. I get a bit confused – I’m looking at this very clear underwater sea diagram and thinking “oh no, am I losing it? I don’t know where the frog is!”
But then I spot a frog, beautiful and tiny and green, on the washrag floating in the water by Benjamin’s left foot. I look at Justin. He grins. “Snnneeeaaakky!” I tell him with a smile. He shrugs, “I know. I want to see if he’ll find it.”
Benjamin, meanwhile, is staring furiously at the bath mat looking for the frog. He finally expands his search, his eyes travelling around the length and width of the bathtub. His eyes dart back and forth, his tiny perfect hands still with dirt under their nails searching the air and water for the frog. He is still at this age where he searches with all of his being.
Finally… he finds it! He points to it triumphantly and says “FROG!”
My heart swells. Such joy from such a tiny creature, such love in these tiny moments. When this stuff happens, when my heart grows to bursting and my tears want to fall at the beauty of everything… it is in these brief moments that I feel the most balanced.
p.s. If you have a child (particularly a son) I highly recommend reading this.
Dedicated to my lovely Comm Manager who inspired this project, with special thanks to my coworkers for assisting.
“Our Favorite Things”
Cops that are helpful and friendly to dispatch
Sun on our days off and radios that aren’t patched
Bosses that love us with halos like rings
These are a few of our favorite things
Getting the scoop when they come in from Show-up
Creatures that Animal Officers bring up
Spider, snake, dog and an owl that sings
These are a few of our favorite things
Christmas when citizens offer us cookies
Knowing a tiny bit more than the rookies
Finding a suspect with 3 cell phone pings
These are a few of our favorite things
When the phones ring
When the guys scream
When we’re feeling mad
We simply remember our favorite things
And then we don’t feel so bad
© 2011 Jennet Sullivan
We were talking about Rescue 911 today, remember that old show? Aired in the late 80s, early 90s? I used to LOVE that show. Even as a young kid I would watch with fascination as another life was saved, as another intruder broke into a home only to be caught minutes later. I am deeply, emotionally affected by the human spirit and the fight within each of us so shows like that are way up my alley (also, shows like Extreme Home Makeover? I can’t watch them – I just sob.) Anyways. So I loved the show, and now I work for 911 and love every day at my job. It truly is an integral and essential part of who I am.
There isn’t really a lot of stuff aimed at dispatchers as far as merchandising. Which is fair – there are way fewer dispatchers than Officers or Firefighters or EMTs, and we’re kind of the “behind the scenes heroes” – not the guys on the front lines. We all realize that, and it’s just something we’re aware of. You’ll never see a “Dispatcher’s Bible” or a cool statue of US saving someones life.
So imagine my surprise when I found a RESCUE 911 PINBALL MACHINE. Can I just say “OMGOKJSDFL:KJ@E$()@#U*$”
I want one. Badly. It would be perfect in my game room! It’s beautiful! It has little telephones on it and fire trucks and…and… and… *hyperventilates*.
There are only a few around still. Some of them are even for sale. If Justin ever asks you guys want I want for Christmas/Birthday/etc… forget diamonds. I want this pinball machine.
The hour is quiet. It’s just a hare past midnight on my Friday. Yes, I know it’s Sunday night (aka Monday morning) but today is the last day of my long work week. I love working Sundays because even though I’m at work, it’s still kind of a day of rest. Criminals don’t do a lot on Sundays – and if they do, they get caught pretty quickly, which is nice. The world is quiet in calm preparation for the week ahead.
At work I have a rotating schedule every two weeks. One week I work a WHOLE LOT Monday through Sunday (64 hours) and then the next week I work Wednesday and part of Thursday (16 hours) and am off the rest of the time. While this setup leads to one exhausted Jennettiee for the long week, it also leads to a very happy Jennettiee during the short week. I love having that many days off – days I can spend up and awake with Benjamin and we can make up for the lack of time together the previous week. Days I can have lunch with my friend Leslie and watch a movie with my husband. Ahh, sweet serenity.
So today is my Friday. I have lots of plans for next week! Starting at 9:30 tomorrow morning we go back out in search of a home to raise our family in. We’ve been searching since Octoberish, and haven’t found the perfect house yet. We found several that were perfect – but for whatever reason they weren’t perfect for us. And that’s OK. It’s easy to get frustrated or feel like we have to find something now now now ! But we’re in the luxurious position of not having a time table. Sure, we’d like to find a house before the interest rates climb into the sixes, but if that’s how long it takes then we’ll be OK with that. We’re more interested in finding a good home we can love and build and grow in. A home that preferably has room for us, Justin’s brother, his parents, the dogs, the pool table, and maybe a little nook for me to have some space to myself. Maybe.
I’m also planning on baking some bread! I’m a test baker for Peter Reinhart’s new cookbook – Gluten Free, Carb Free breads. I’ve received the first few recipes and I am SO excited! This is a huge deal to me for several reasons. One, I’m a HUUUGGEEE Peter Reinhart fan. Two, I haven’t been able to eat bread lately since I’m low-carbing my way to my target weight. Three, because I haven’t been eating bread, I haven’t been baking bread. I’ve missed it a lot… bread baking makes me incredibly happy, so I’m eager to get back into it. For those of you who care, he’s ataining GF/CF by utilizing many techniques that people have already used, almond flour, flaxseed, xantham gum, etc… he’s just (hopefully, probably) doing it better and more awesomely. One of the things I really respect about him is his passion for bread, and I can’t wait to see how that translates into these healthier breads. It’s a good week to be low-carbing it at my house!
Anyways. Also planning on going to the doctor. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I’ve essentially gotten to the point that I have to get something to fight the ridiculous infection in my head. I’m pretty sure it’s sinus related, but it’s been progressively getting worse and now my ears are starting to ache too. So, after much fighting it, to the doctor I go. I’m hoping they’ll be able to suggest a solution other than antibiotics, but I’m not very hopeful.
So there are some of my plans. Ahh, to have them written down! Speak of plans, I find it funny the way our minds work. Justin can’t stand plans. If he gets a day off work, he doesn’t want to make any plans. He wants no commitments, no schedules, nothing to stress him out. I’m the opposite. I want to maximize my time to relax, so I’ll plan my relaxation around the duties and must-dos. I like to have order. That drives him crazy sometimes, but luckily I don’t force my plans on him too often. I wonder, times like this, when I’m busy planning away, which side will Benjamin take to? Will he be like his Daddy, impulsive and carefree? Or will he be like his Mommy, obsessive and detail-oriented? Time will tell. In an ideal world, just like Justin and I balance each other out, Benjamin will be a good balance of the two of us.
Anyways. I keep reading all these amazing blogs from these people who make a living doing this. Can you imagine?! I think if I was going to do that I’d have to have more focus. And be a better writer. And blog more. And since I don’t see any of those things happening anytime soon, I guess I’m just going to have to be happy writing mediocre to a few readers, knowing that in the end, the blog is more for my sake than anyone elses.
This is one of my long weeks, the week I work 12 hour shifts on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and oh yeah, 4 hours on Thursday. This week was extra “special” because I had training on Tuesday and meetings to go to on Wednesday AND Thursday. Oi. I’ve still got two 12 hour shifts left before the end of this week and man, I can’t wait. The only good thing about this week is that next week I ONLY work Wednesday and 4 hours on Thursday. Those weeks, the weeks that I can feel mostly human, they’re worth it.
Justin and I have been house-hunting which is a crazy stressful thing that I might not have undertaken had I realized how impossibly picky we are. We refused to buy a house we generally liked because the downstairs half-bath was just off the kitchen and I was mortified at the idea of the men in the house stinking it up that close to the kitchen. Which is actually a pretty reasonable fear. Especially if you know my boys! We really want to buy a house in Cedar Park, the problem is that most of the ones that meet our requirements (pool table room, 4 bedrooms, big backyard) are juuuust out of reasonable budget for us. So maybe Austin or Leander. We’re going to look at a house on Sunday that I have high hopes for. It’s 5 houses away from the neighborhood pool and let me tell you, I would love that. So would Benjamin!
Speaking of Benjamin. How did I help make something so cute? He talks up a storm (whoops, my bad) and loves loves loves to jump and bounce. He’ll be 6 months this Wednesday. I can’t believe that he’s halfway to 1 year old. I can’t believe I’ve been a parent for 6 months! He screams at me sometimes, usually when I’m not feeding him oatmeal fast enough, and I wonder if he is giving me attitude or just telling me to hurry? Should I yell at him? When do I start punishing him so that he doesn’t turn into a brat? I’m in favor of discipline, but how much and when?
Justin is really starting to have fun with Benjamin which is pretty much the greatest thing ever. I’m really enjoying this stage where everything is still so new, but I also want to help him learn to go go go! So that I can tell him to stop stop stop!
I’m reading a book called Fierce Conversations. There’s a quote in it by Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
Just think about that for a minute.
I read a great article yesterday about how email has taken over our lives. It makes me want to throw my cell phone out the window. Maybe one day I’ll get there, but that day is probably not today.
It’s the end of the year. I traditionally recap, and have every intention of doing it again this year. It’s tougher to get started this year though. Maybe tomorrow.
Day 08 – Someone who made your life hell, or treated you badly.
Oh, man. As soon as I thought about this I knew exactly who to talk about. We’ll call her “H.”
Shortly after I became a trainer I started training a new employee named H. H was older, had never worked in dispatch and had a very friendly countenance. I initially really liked her. We spent a lot of time working together on call taking skills, general police knowledge, policy, procedure, etc. But it quickly became apparent that all the good intentions in the world were not going to make her a good asset to our team. Dispatching is a job that requires attention to detail and, more importantly, the ability to multi-task and retain information. H could hardly do either. I would train her and train her and train her on a particular aspect of the job, and the next week I had to train her all over again. Not to mention, I had to first convince her that I’d already trained her on it because she had already forgotten. It was incredibly frustrating.
I’m not the type of person that usually brings work home with them, but with H it became impossible. She devoured my life. I tried so hard to help her to succeed and just couldn’t manage. Eventually I started to come home stressed out and spend the day dreading coming to work and facing another day repeating myself and trying to help her while knowing that, while I had to give her a reasonable chance, it just wasn’t working out. This happened shortly after Justin and I were married and it started to drive him crazy too. I recommended termination because I couldn’t in good faith even advance her to her next stage of training. It was a liability to me and the department. It just wasn’t working and I saw it, my supervisor saw it, but she didn’t. Sometimes people recognize a job isn’t working out for them and they make contingency plans. She didn’t, her stubbornness made her believe she could do anything, when obvious (to us) she could not. She fought anything I said. She was finally moved to a different trainer, with similar results. And then another trainer, because heaven forbid we not give her another shot. Usually I agree – sometimes it’s just not a personality match. But with her, there was never very much hope. She fought the whole way, and she was eventually let go. But the entire process completely exhausted me and my new husband, causing many many conversations about what to do and how to do it and how to help her and oh my gosh is she ever going to realize this isn’t working?
I look back at it and realize that she had way too much power over my life, but it wasn’t so much her as it was my desire to help her. I really, really, really wanted her to succeed. To me, her success or failure was directly related to my ability to train. I felt like if anyone failed under my guidance it was my fault, not theirs. I still feel that way sometimes, and it’s something I have to fight. I have to let them have responsibility for their actions. I have to realize that while it is my duty to teach, it is theirs to learn.
Luckily, we survived. Hopefully we’re better for it.
On Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, the world lost one of it’s most amazing individuals. I was in California, I was sitting in Starbucks with my friend Cai and my sister Jean. I checked my phone and noticed a missed call and a missed text message from Sara, my boss. “Jennet, call me immediately.” I figured I was in trouble – that’s always my first assumption – so I was afraid to call but her message sounded important. She told me with a shaky voice that Reed (my favorite officer, but don’t tell the others) had been involved in an accident. It wasn’t good. He was in surgery. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of his smiling face, his laugh, his “hey sunshine” and his insistence that I wear my hair down because it was pretty. We couldn’t lose him. There was no way. He was such an integral part of my day to day activities at work. I remembered his attitude as he came on duty “twwweelllve seventy seven, teeeen forty-one” and my response, ‘twwwweellllve seventy seven, go ahead.” It always made me smile. We couldn’t lose him.
But we did.
After I talked to Sara I was pretty much sobbing in the middle of Starbucks. My sister and Cai looked at me, concerned, and I explained the situation. We prayed, and Cai gave me a beautiful necklace to “think of him, anytime you wear it, no matter what happens.” I put it on right there. It was pretty fitting – a silver mold of an acorn nut surrounding a solitary pearl. She didn’t realize then how much it fit, because Reed was always a bit of a nut – and the necklace looks like a bell… a bell that doesn’t ring.
I was shopping with my sister and I talked to several coworkers on the phone as we went through the store. We expressed concern. We talked about how amazing he was. And as we got to the car, I got a text message. He didn’t make it.
I looked at the words and I don’t think it was really real to me, even though I immediately burst into tears. My sister knew immediately what the message was and wrapped me in a hug and prayed quickly for God to comfort me, his family and his friends.
I still haven’t recovered.
I’ve lost officers before – when I worked at Harris County I lost one of my officers to suicide. He was off duty but it was still heartbreaking. I didn’t know him nearly as well as I knew Reed. He would brag on his wife and kids to us, he would cheer us up and bring us food when we were busy in dispatch and desperate for something other than microwave fare. He could cheer up a room no matter what was going on.
His funeral was a week ago. It was an all day event including a beautiful service, a harrowing graveside service and a wake the likes of which I’ve never seen. There was officer after officer from other agencies there to honor him; I never realized how much it meant until that day. Those officers did not know him; they knew of his sacrifice and that was enough. Sara did the last call on the radio and it was one of the most beautiful moments of the service to me (I’m sure it didn’t mean as much to some, but as a dispatcher it was incredibly meaningful and significant). When she said to show Leonard Reed 10-42 (off duty) I started sobbing. I’m crying now remembering. He’s only 10-41 (on duty) in heaven now.
When we were at his burial it was beautiful and holy and solemn but it was super hot and humid and I kept picturing him in my head going “Sunshine, I really appreciate all this, but y’all need to get into some air conditioning and DANCE!”
Reed was a dancer. Pretty much any opportunity he had he would groove a little bit, give us a head bob or an arm wave. He was a free spirit who was passionate about everything he did. He once tried to help an old lady across a flooded roadway… he grabbed her hand, tried to walk with her…. slipped and caused them BOTH to tumble into the water, him on top of her! It was comedic genius, he couldn’t have planned it better. We teased him about that forever after it happened… every once in a while we’d ask him if he’d fallen on any old ladies lately. He would get that look on his face and go “Yoouuu!!!” and shake his fist at us like he was angry (but he wasn’t).
When my parents died he took me aside and told me about losing his mom, and told me how much it hurt and how eventually it does get better.
On the one year anniversary of my parent’s death he made a tacky joke (not remembering) about murder and I kept shaking my head at him. “What??” he kept asking, and I kept shaking my head until I eventually dissolved in tears. I said “I’m sorry, that’s just not cool, it was a year ago today…” and just started sobbing. He ran around to where I was sitting and enveloped me in a hug and whispered he was sorry in my ear. He smiled at me. “You know I love you sunshine,” and I did.
He went out of his way to help people. I’ve seen a lot in my line of work and sometimes it’s easy to forget about the humanity of the people we deal with. He never did. He ALWAYS tried to help, even when it was a lost cause. He said all he could do was try to help, the rest was up to them and God.
I’m sure he’s up in heaven now catching up with his momma and all the others that went before him. I’m just so incredibly sad I don’t have him around anymore to smile at me and cheer up everyone he came in contact with. One of my other officers said it so well “I could absolutely hate you, but if Leonard was here with the two of us, everyone would be getting along” and that’s so true, you couldn’t hate him or hate anything when he was around.
I think the world would be a better place if we all tried to be a little more like him.
There’s been so much written about him and some amazing videos done about him (most of them posted to my facebook), but I just wanted to get some thoughts down about him. I’m absolutely serious when I say that more people should try to be like him. He had bad days, everyone does. But even still he always kept his smile around. He was a faithful friend. He was quick to help out a coworker. He was my friend, and I miss him terribly. I have faith he’s in a better place, but gosh I’m going to miss him.
Rest in peace, my friend. Dance with Jesus. I’ll see you in a while…
Benjamin and I are sick. I’ll fill everyone in on the fun stuff later, but we got sick while vacationing in California. Somehow between camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and staying in the valley we got a bug, or an allergic reaction, or something. Mine is definitely an infection in my head that might have moved into my lungs – I won’t know for sure till tomorrow, I think I’m going to have to go to the doctor. Benjamin is fine most of the time, but at night especially he has been sounding really congested and stuffy. He’s really too young to get medicine so all we have been able to do is keep his airway open and keep an eye on him. No fever, so it’s possible it’s still just allergies he’s having a hard time kicking…. but again, I’ll know more tomorrow because he has a doctor’s appointment.
The downsides to this sickness are as follows: I know that they’re going to put me on an antibiotic if I go to the doctor, which will open up a huge amount of health issues for Benjamin and I in regards to nursing. But that’s besides the point anyways, because he hasn’t been able to nurse the past few days because he doesn’t breathe as easy laying down. And I can pump and feed it to him, but my supply has seen a decline since this all started and I’m not sure what the culprit is. It’s incredibly frustrating. I took some sudafed, which has been known to affect milk supply, but I only took ONE dose (and I really needed it, I felt like my head was going to pop because of the pressure) and that was 2 days ago and my supply is still going down. I’m drinking enough water, eating healthy, and still problems.
I’m seriously frustrated. But, as long as everyone can be healthy (or on the way to healthy) by next weekend I’ll be happy. Because next Wednesday (September 8th) I return to work. I’m excited but nervous, and I definitely have to be on the ball when I go back. So we’ll see what happens.