The Call No Officer Wants

The adrenalin racing through my veins took me by surprise. My partner and I weren’t poised outside an apartment door to serve a high risk warrant, and we weren’t there on a call that would put us in any sort of physical peril. I desperately wanted to follow the ‘flight’ portion of my body’s adrenal reaction, but that simply was not an option. 

I took a breath and held my peaked cap up to my chest as my partner reached out to knock on the door. The faint tremor in his hand belied his emotion; he didn’t want to be there any more than I did. 

Footfalls from inside the apartment padded to the other side of the door and the peephole went dark. The woman looking out at us was living the last few seconds of her life as she knew it, and a band tightened around my chest when she opened the door. The reality of our visit had already begun to spread across her face.

“Is it Sally?” she whispered.

I pressed my lips together. My partner was a statue beside me. One of us had to.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

She visibly crumbled. Her pupils grew huge and her eyes seemed to eat up her face. With her hands clutched to her face, Sally’s mother fell to the floor, her wails echoing down the hall.

__________________________________________

 

Next of Kin notifications. 

Where an officer is assigned to tell a family a loved one has died. There is not an officer I know who looks forward to the task, of being the bearer of bad news. 

To seeing the absolute pain and devastation a death can render on the living. To be witness to raw grief. To indifference. 

And yes, even to relief.

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