Mother, Son, and the Thin Blue Line

This article expresses my deepest thoughts as I witnessed the funeral of Texas Trooper Damon Allen on December 1st, 2017. This funeral effected me like no other as I prepare to welcome my son into the same profession with Texas Highway Patrol.

I sit here today, at the funeral of Trooper Damon Allen, a Texas D.P.S. Trooper who was tragically killed on Thanksgiving day. As I witness the proceedings my thoughts are of my son. My son who will soon be donning the same uniform Trooper Allen died wearing. While he will be continuing the family legacy, and we are so proud of him, I wonder what I will tell him about days like today.

Damon Allen

(Graphics courtesy Rose Borisow)

I watch Trooper Allen’s young daughter say goodbye for the last time to her father at his casket. The accompanying trooper tries to keep his emotions in check as he carries the young girl away. I ask myself why we didn’t try to talk our son out of law enforcement? Why we didn’t tell him about the bad days that weigh over the good days?

This funeral seemed closer to home than all the others I’ve attended during my 24 years on the job. I and my husband have both been through line of duty deaths with our own departments but none have been as emotionally taxing to us like this one.

The reality of this law enforcement death hit me harder because my child will soon be working the streets and highways of Texas just like Trooper Allen did. This son of mine who told me I shouldn’t smoke because it was a “case of the law” when he was barely old enough to speak. The child who wanted to be an “Army man” since the age of five. The one who loved to pose in SWAT gear while visiting my department when I was on duty. The teenage boy who had way too much fun while his parents were working night shift, challenging every rule and pushing us to our limits.

I recall the grown teenager who left on the military transport, proudly declaring he was going to Marine Corps boot camp and then sending me letters begging for one Reese’s Pieces to soothe the inner child far from home. The Marine we sent to war way too many times and the man that came home a husband and a father. This man that I love and cherish!

What do I say?

Do I say your heart will be broken a million times over the course of a career? Do I say you will have to find a way to cope with the horrific things you will see? Do I tell him that once he graduates he will promise to remain close with his classmates but may never see them again until they all attend another law enforcement death? Do I tell him he will change in ways that he won’t see or understand?

In looking back over a 24 year career, I can say that I have had some wonderful days, some great times, some memorable experiences and been able to help people whose names I don’t remember. I can also say that on its worst day, it’s a career that I wouldn’t trade for the world, one that I’ll miss when I’m done and hope that I have left a lasting legacy at my two departments and the many, many officers and people I have come in contact with.

Mother and son decades apart. (Photos courtesy Bustos family)

On Friday, December 22, 2017, my son, my life, my legacy, will put on that Texas Trooper uniform for the first time. I will proudly hand him his credentials. I will say, “Good Luck! I love you and couldn’t be more proud of you for joining this most honorable profession.”

Then I will watch him walk away and take his place on that Thin Blue Line. I will see the family legacy continue through him. I will know that while one Texas Trooper may have fallen another will take his place.

I know what I will say.

“When times are tough, call me. I’ll be there to listen.”

Una Stamus!

Cathy Bustos is a law enforcement officer in Central Texas. She is one half of “That Peer Support Couple” with her husband Javier. Together they are strong peer support advocates speaking about surviving critical incidents and marriage. She can be contacted at: [email protected].