There are mornings I wake up to find mascara on my pillow. I rub my eyes, sigh a soft sigh, and prayer flows from my lips. I then remember the night before and the tears that ran down my face as I hugged my pillow tight. So many tissues crumbled and below my Bible opened to the Psalms. My tears are significant and each tear represents something so different in my life. What do my tears represent? I will explain.

I am a woman, I am wife. I’m not just any wife, but I’m the wife of a first responder. My identity is not just based solely on those facts, but on how my life is lived and how my marriage stands out from any other. I am the one who shares the sacrifice for your safety. I celebrate holidays on a different day so your holidays will be safe.

I am the one who takes on a single parent role when duty calls. I am the one who maintains the peace in my home so my husband will know peace, instead of constant chaos on the beat. I am the one who washes blood out of a uniform instead of food stains. I am the one who watches my husband drive away praying and hoping for his safe return. I am the one who looks above and beyond in my faith because of the position I hold in this law enforcement life. I am a woman beside the badge; I am a wife on duty.

There is much said about the wife of an officer. There is so much said about husbands of an officer. Such amazing people who are so much more than just someone who loves a first responder. These are men and woman who have identities that hold more than such a title. Each of them holding their own duties and their own calls in life.

Our officer’s call astounds many and is something no one could ever comprehend. The things they see, hear, smell, and even experience is far from our grasp. There will be times when this life is something we want to give up, there will be times when we find we are ever so proud of it, there will be times when fear takes over, and there will be times when we have no emotion or thought over it. It is what it is.

But, it is in those nights when it is silent and no one could possibly know how your heart feels. It is then that your tears in the night leave a mark on your pillow, mascara on the very spot you lay your head. I encourage those who love our first responders to embrace those mascara stained pillows. Tears’ running down your face brings about such healing. This life may be difficult but it can also be so great!

Many might criticize this life, many may proclaim to have it all together and speak of not understanding those tears, but that’s ok. Each person, each first responder household has its own shares of struggle. There is no such thing as perfection. I want to acknowledge the many tears that are cried day in and day out, each shift, and each time duty calls by those who love and care for the ones who run at a moment notice. There are times it feels as if you are alone and no one understands, remember there is a thin blue line that represents all that and extended family nationwide. So, you are not alone. Your tears are not in vain. Those stains on the pillow are signs that healing took place, that you are still human, that your duty is never done, and that while you may not have it all together, you are just being real.

Allison P. Uribe is an auxiliary chaplain with the San Antonio Police Department. Allison’s husband is a San Antonio police officer. She is also a chaplain with Serve and Protect, serving the spiritual and emotional needs of law enforcement, fire/ rescue, and corrections; www.serveprotect.org or 625-373-8000. Allison is the founder of Wives on Duty Ministries designed to support and encourage wives of law enforcement and other emergency services through the word of God. For more information visit www.wivesonduty.com, join the Facebook page searching Wives on Duty Ministries, or email Allison at [email protected] She is also a lead community chaplain and student with Global University- Berean School of the Bible and speaks at many Law Enforcement events. Allison wrote “Because I’m Suitable-The Journey of A Wife on Duty”, geared toward wives of law enforcement and first responder marriages.  http://www.amazon.com/Because-Im-Suitable-Journey-Wife/dp/1449740839