In this job there are times when I see more than I should, more than I want, but I do consider myself lucky in the sense I have been doing this enough to have either developed an emotional callous or the ability to detach myself. On occasion, though, that isn’t enough.
April 17 was one of those days, and this particular missive isn’t about what I experienced that day as much as what I saw and want to share with you, the reader.
Easley and Pickens County experienced a tragedy that day when a 6-year-old pulled the trigger on a handgun found in the floorboard of a car, killing a young woman in the front passenger seat. I arrived at the emergency room of Baptist Easley not long after the shooting, and without details as to what had happened, I was expecting something entirely different.
And I was wrong.
What I found was controlled confusion and in the midst of this controlled confusion of family members, staff and local law enforcement, I saw four small children — the children who were in the back seat of the vehicle when the shooting occurred. It goes without saying children shouldn’t have to deal with moments like this, but life isn’t fair and to expect anything remotely akin to fairness is to set yourself up for disappointment.
I had a job to do, questions to ask, details to glean as best I could, but was drawn repeatedly to what I witnessed … those devastated children and one Easley police officer, a young man, sitting on the floor and doing his best to distract and comfort.
All too often we look for reasons to dislike members of law enforcement, and usually because it took only one or two bad experiences with someone on the job for the wrong reason to color our opinions darkly.
Admittedly, I was distracted, not only by the circumstances but by the actions of this one officer. These children had just experienced what I personally hope is the last traumatic experience of their lives. Yet, this one young man’s presence, his affability and approachability, created a jungle gym and an outlet … a distraction from their fears, uncertainties and pain.
I dare say most of us would never know what to do in the same situation, although we would want to do something, especially those of us who are parents. But to see someone so young with so much empathy and compassion do what had to be a dreadful and hurtful experience? I know I can speak for myself when I say I would never be the same, yet without a thought, this young officer stepped in and took the burden upon himself.
In the end, what I think I am trying to say, simply put, is thank you. Thank you for not only doing your job under difficult circumstances, but whether you know it, you have done more than that. You may have made an investment in the future of this community that could send positive ripples, like a stone tossed into a pond, rolling into the future. You may have changed the lives of those children in a way we will never know.
You, sir, took an oath to protect and serve … you took it upon yourself to ease and comfort.
Thank you for going above and beyond, not only from me, but from the rest of this community whose lives (thankfully so) never cross our own, yours and mine, as we see the worst our fellow man has to offer. If there were more like you, the world would be a better place.
D. C. Moody is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.