I’ve never written about Freya.
She’s young, energetic, and getting fat. When I wake up before dawn she follows me into the kitchen, meows at the pantry door, and fixates on her bag of cat treats until I open them and shake some on the floor.
Freya climbs up onto the bed and sleeps on my wife’s head.
Freya’s a little scared of my daughter and my daughter’s a little scared of her.
We’ve had Freya for almost a year. She makes me smile. I love her.
But I’ve never written about her.
We live together but she’s on the periphery of my life. I allot a small amount of my physical and mental energy to her.
These few sentences may be all I ever write about Freya.
Yet she is a living creature. In my home. A creature whose fear when she first came here was so overwhelming, she hid behind a couch for days. A creature whose capacity for love and attachment is so strong, she follows my wife throughout the house, day and night.
I take Freya for granted. She adds happiness to my life, for a minimal price.
It’s easy to take things for granted. Those things, big or small, that together, are the fabric of our lives.
In my last post, I wrote about how I was leaving the homicide unit where I’d worked for years. I’m gone now. And people keep getting killed. The unit is very busy. I know my friends are stressed and exhausted and giving everything, they have. I spent a significant portion of my career working with them. And now that I’m not, I think about them, especially when collectively, they are being pushed to the limits of endurance.
Careers evolve. I work with a new team now. Uniformed officers on patrol in Victoria – a city of extremes – where beauty and disorder co-exist. Our team is filled with young men and women who are starting their careers. They’re talented, enthusiastic and committed to the fundamental precept of policing – helping people. Our team has veteran officers too – like me, these are cops with decades of experience. We look at the ‘kids’ and we want them to have fulfilling careers and happy lives. Their passion for the job is inspiring – it reminds us of why we signed up to be cops, years and years ago. In turn, those of us who have been around for awhile, hope that the youngsters will benefit from our experience and example. Maybe some lessons we learned will make things a bit easier for them.
One lesson I’ve learned is the importance of connection. My days, and nights, at work start with coffee. Three or four of us get together. We seek out quiet places, although, being in uniform, we always attract attention. We huddle together around a table. We laugh, plan the day, debrief things that have happened, talk about stuff that needs to get done. Some of us have known each other for years. Even so, this time together, coffee and conversation deepens those friendships. Not everyone has worked together before. We’re forming new connections. Getting to know each other – professionally and personally. In one breath we’re talking about sick kids. A moment later it’s the robbery that the entire shift worked on the day before.
Those moments are precious and special. When I’m at work I miss my wife and daughter. I want to be with them. But that time together with my friends and colleagues adds richness and texture to my life. When I leave policing, those are the moments I will miss.
It’s all too easy to take life for granted.
I started writing this piece a couple of days ago. This morning I woke up to learn that two members of the Edmonton Police Service had been shot and killed. Two young men murdered on duty. That’s seven cops killed across Canada in the last six months. Murdered for wearing a uniform and doing their best to keep people safe.
Sometimes writing helps me make sense of things. But there’s no sense to be made of these tragedies. Good people die and the world keeps spinning.
My house is chaotic right now. My daughter is giddy. A category 5 hurricane ripping through the house. She’s chasing Freya. I just heard my wife say, “don’t go near her!” Category 5 hurricanes don’t respond well to direction.
My daughter is very excitable. We’re different. I like quiet. I’m not a talker. She’s the opposite of both of those things, even when she isn’t giddy. To finish this piece, I had to walk away from her and close a door.
I worry that I take her for granted sometimes. This beautiful, precious child, and sometimes I feel too busy, or too stressed, to just be in the moment with her and give her my attention. When I choose not to spend time with her, I feel so guilty. A little girl asks for her dad, and sometimes her dad says no. Even when I’m doing it I feel awful. Afterwards, I just want to be with her and throw my arms around her.
Life happens every day. The big and the small. The things that happen to us, and the things that happen to others, hundreds of miles away. It all affects us.
I feel tremendous sadness for those fallen officers. For their families. For their friends and colleagues. My heart is heavy.
And I’m thankful, so thankful, for the love in my life. My family. My friends. Even Freya.