If you look at it as a time period from the birth of your child, 16 years goes quickly. All too quickly. You are able to witness the growth of a human in its truest form. You help them learn, grow and become independent. You see them in their moments of sheer joy and laughter and you see them in their most sad moments. You are their protector and you hope you have raised them well. You now take a supportive backseat and watch how they react when life slaps them in the face. Sometimes that slap is gentle, other times, not so. You're hope is you have done your job well.
Let's look at 16 years from a different angle. 16 years of a career in law enforcement. A career that is extremely challenging and a career that can be very rewarding. Much like birth itself, the start is rough. This is a new world that requires many hours of training before you are even allowed to "hit the street." The training and the on the job experiences further shape you as person and a professional. Your protector is still there however, this role has now been taken on by many.
After 16 years, much has been accomplished. Whether in childhood or career, we believe there is much more to come. As happens all too often though, much more to come is not always the reality. This is a sad reality that I am more than happy to never experience again.
I'm talking the same amount of years, 16. Each come with their unique difficulties just the same. Most times those difficulties are overcome. When they are not, often the hurt is real and goes deep. This is yet another thing I could live without for the rest of my life.
This has been a rough few days and this road is just beginning to be traveled. Travel it we will and it is a journey that, like many others, will never be erased from my memory.
Tom-23, you will be missed.