Rest has been this elusive beast these past few weeks. Our home has been interrupted by phone calls, messages, visits and change in the routine. Matt has been working 20 hour days, without a day off in multiple weeks. When George Floyd was killed, there was a call to action. The community became unhinged and took to the streets. This meant a greater call to duty for the men and women of the Minneapolis Police.
I have said it before, but will say it again, the honor and duty to serve is part of what made Matt choose this career. He has told me multiple times, that he knew what he wanted to do from a very young age. He admired the officers he met when he was a kid, growing up in Northeast Minneapolis. He wanted to help people. He wanted to serve. He chose his school based on this, and just so happened to choose me, a daughter and niece of law enforcement.
For those of you who know Matt, you know he is rough around the edges, abrupt, intense, serious, and some might say grumpy. Those who get the privilege to know him as a colleague, neighbor, son, father, cousin, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law and friend, know that there is much more to him. They know he is funny, talented, caring, dedicated, concerned, smart and faithful. He is patriotic, driven and successful. He can master anything that he tries, and this is why he has had such career success.
Matt, like most of the men and women of the Minneapolis Police have great relationships with the communities they serve. They have regular people they greet, tables that they sit at to break bread, and businesses they guard and defend. Prior to all hell breaking loose, Matt prided himself on the many meaningful relationships and partnerships that he had created with the many business owners on his Central Avenue Beat. He frequented their restaurants, even in his off time, patrolled their storefronts, and even accepted phone calls and honored requests on vacation (In Mexico and at the Cabin) to make sure that they had a sense of security and peace.
Peace has been eliminated for Matt. Peace is now just a dream. The career he dreamed of when he was a small boy is no longer waiting for him when he arrives at the precinct. The last 20 days were a giant blur. He would work 20 hours a day, in intense situations, away from his precinct and routine. It was a war. Survival mode. Each day brought new chaos and expectations. During these days, Matt was not answering 911 calls or patrolling the streets. He was a member of a special team, one of many, being dispatched to all of the made for television moments. Not the good ones either. He was met with riots, fires, injuries, bullets flying through the air, and this was just inside the car. Once outside he encountered angry mobs, fireworks being thrown at his feet, water bottles filled with ice, rocks, bricks and other debris hurled at his body. This was just the physical stuff. Then, as he stood on a line, holding back the rioters, not the protesters, because people, the protesters are not the ones responsible for this chaos, he heard unimaginable things. Many might argue, well George Floyd lost his life, it is their price to pay. I say nobody deserves what was said and done to those brave men and women for 20 long days. I will spare you the ugly details, but that is just it. It was as ugly as you could imagine, and they could not flinch.
I told you some of this story so that you could hear the rest of what I have to say today. It will bring context to my heartbreak. It will help you understand why I cry.
Matt finally got a few days off on Saturday. We quickly called our oldest and grabbed our youngest and headed to our respite at the lake. Thank God we have this oasis. I am not sure in this very moment what we would do without it. A special thank you to my parents for their generosity in always letting us stay, and my in-laws for watching things while we have been away.
He was able to go fishing with the boys yesterday. I searched for a smile. It faintly appeared. But I know this man. I have been with him for almost 30 years. He has changed since this happened. It has broken him down. He is weary and defeated. He is lost and uncertain. He does not know what the future holds. He knows for a fact, it will never be the same.
I went to sleep rather early last night and he came in our room. He woke me up and was shaken. I asked him what was wrong. He was panicked and scared. This big, tough, strong man was asking for help. I told him it was panic. His body’s reaction to stress. It was lack of sleep, nutrition and stress. He told me it was like a movie replaying that he could not turn off. It was snippets of moments that he could not blink away. I told him God and I would hold his hand and walk through it. It was all that I had to say.
When I think about it today, it dawned on me. Part of him has died. Part of him has accepted that he must move forward and he does not know how. Part of him is at odds if he even wants to. I weep for Minneapolis in the coming days and months. They have a part of my husband he will try to take back. I can only pray to God that they are willing to meet him half way.