I have volunteered photography services for military personnel for years. It has always reflected the service of my own family members and that which I hold dear.
A little over a year ago, I was shaken by a news story of a local police shooting. Officer Scott Patrick was no one I knew, nor did I live in his community. Yet, through the beautiful smile of this man, I was engaged by his story. When his funeral was streamed online, I watched from my desk tears streaming down my face as I thought of his family and all that they lost that day. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to extend my photography work to include Police families. I didn't know how, but in time, I knew God would show me a way.
Days turned into weeks, weeks to months. News reported so many shootings, questions of police integrity and calls for change from both sides of the issue. Every time some spoke of Black Lives Matter or other issues of the political tide, I thought of Office Patrick and spoke aggressively in defense of all that officers do. Again, I prayed that God would help me be of better service to these people who do so much for me, even though most days I think nothing of the risks they take or all that they do for my family.
This past month, God did just that when Backing the Blue Line: Police Wives of Minnesot was looking for an official photographer for their organization. After submitting a proposal, I was honored to learn I had been selected. Before my feet could hit the ground to work with them on headshots, Police Balls and fundraising events, I had my first job. Another officer had been shot in the line of duty and I would be photographing a rose preparation. Okay... not how I had hoped to start, but this is what comes with the job.
I arrived at the station and began to shoot, observing so many beautiful wives working in service of another. At first they were quiet, introspective of the realization that it could have been their husband, then sympathetic when they likely thought what Deputy Sandberg's family was going through. In time, they began to laugh, as women do, and the work moved along. As I worked to capture these charming women and the 2,000 beautiful roses, my attention was caught by a single t-shirt "Faith, Service, Integrity. Remembering Officer Scott Patrick". I felt my heart grow heavy as I realized this group of women were likely working this same way for Officer Scott's family. Then I saw the woman wearing the shirt and I began to shake.
It was Michelle Patrick.
I cannot tell you all that it took to keep from crying, or to maintain my composure when I finally met her. (Yeah... I rambled like an idiot.) I remember the tears that day watching her at her husband's funeral and the wish I had to do ANYTHING for women like her who lose so much so my family can be safe.
I guess seeing Michelle was God's way of putting me right where I asked to be.
As I close this long post, I look back to my photography blog where I posted about Officer Scott so many months ago. (You can read it here.) Such a strange circle of life we all live in. Seeing what has transpired since that day in July, I realize that God is always guiding me, even when I do not yet fully see the course.
Today, I give pause and prayer for both Officer Patrick's family and Deputy Sandberg's. In protection of the police wives working last night, I will not post their photos here. Instead, one simple photo in recognition of their time last night and all that they do in service of their husbands and the sacrifices they make.