I’ve been retired now for twelve years after a 30-year career in law enforcement. One look in the mirror speaks volumes for where my body has been. I wear wrinkles on my face much like the hash marks I wore upon my sleeve, both displaying years of service. I’m happy with this, but it’s what the mirror doesn’t reflect that has me concerned.

My mind is growing old too, and for the most part that’s a good thing. Unlike the mirror that reminds me of my body’s condition on a daily basis, there are only occasional little strange things I do at times that reflect on where my head is at, and on some occasions, where it isn’t. It’s the latter that scares me. Here’s an example.

My wife and I left our home in New Hampshire this past winter for two weeks of warmth in southern Florida. We had a great time. We ate at the best restaurants and enjoyed a few beers all within walking distance of our bungalow. On the plane ride home I complained to my wife about the weight I had gained, confessing I overdid it once again.

By coincidence I had my annual physical the following Monday. Everything checked out well, but the doctor let me know that I had gained eight pounds. Really? What a surprise! I wonder how that happened.

The following week my wife and I attended a funeral for a friend of hers. While getting ready to go to the service we both got dressed in our bedroom where we each have our own closets. I took a pair of black slacks from the dry cleaning bag and struggled to get them on, verbally complaining to my wife during the process, while trying to suck in my stomach long enough to fasten the waist clasp.

After my successful “struggle of the slacks,” I went into the “combat of the collar” phase of dressing, trying to get that top button into the little hole where it belonged. This was also a very difficult procedure as the only thing that existed in the space between my neck and the collar was a very thin layer of darkness. I’m not a scientist, but I theorize that absence of light is all that remains where space no longer exists. I’ll bet everyone has sucked in his or her stomach for one reason or another, but I can honestly say I know of no one who has ever sucked in his or her neck.

After much complaining, using my finest locker room lingo, I made it. Complete in dress jacket, necktie, tight pants, and choking collar I sat through an excruciating hour-long service. The pastor’s words about how the deceased was now free of all worldly pain and suffering held special meaning for me to say the least.

As soon we got to our car to head home I loosened my collar, which proved to be just as difficult as the fastening part. I can’t prove it as I had no medical means to take a correct measurement, but I think my oxygen level had sunk well below 50. As soon as proper blood flow was restored to my brain, my lightheadedness disappeared and my face went from bright red back to a normal skin tone. Circumstantial evidence I guess, but quite convincing nonetheless.

I wanted to loosen my pants but questioned the consequences of such an act in public. After all, it wouldn’t have been a simple unsnap release procedure, and trying to explain all the commotion created would have been difficult at best. Right in line with “Honestly officer, I only two beers, really that’s all I had.” Try saying something like that about your pants. “Honestly officer, I was just trying to loosen my, you know, my pants. People do it all the time.”

After the service my wife and I returned to our home where we proceeded to change from our dress clothes into something more relaxed. I took my slacks off and when I went to put them on a hanger noticed they were size 10. I had worn my wife’s black slacks to the funeral. After I blurted out, “No wonder I had trouble, these slacks are size 10!” my wife gave me one of those, “there are homes for people like you” type of looks. The same look she gave me when I accidentally used the ladies room at a local restaurant a couple years ago.

I admit that what I did bothers me with respect to my aging thought process. What was I thinking? What wasn’t I thinking? There is an upside to all of this though. I am after all a guy who over indulged during two weeks of vacation who came home and could still fit into a size 10. I’m sure guys won’t fully appreciate this but the ladies will get it for sure.

Among our children and close circle of friends there is a belief that my wife wears the pants in our law enforcement family. Well not anymore. Every once in a while I wear her pants too.

See more at: https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/2013/04/22/ptsd-the-killer-among-us/#sthash.QkkL1DTK.dpuf

William May is the author “Once Upon A Crisis,” an informative true story about a police officer cross-trained in law enforcement and emergency medicine, that takes a close look at post-traumatic stress in emergency services from the inside out. He grew up in Townsend, Massachusetts, served in the United States Navy, and retired as Chief of Police in Townsend, Massachusetts, after a thirty-year career. He lives with his wife Jeanne in southern New Hampshire.