When the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning, it is never a good thing. When your husband is a police sergeant and the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning, it is a terrifying thing.
I rolled across our queen-sized bed, the one we never got around to up-sizing despite the fact that both of our waist lines had upsized, after fifteen years of marriage. I fumbled for the phone in the dark as my eyes grew accustomed to the brightness of the cordless phones glow.
“Hello?” I didn’t recognize the name on the caller id; yet another bad sign.
“Hey, Sarge. We have this guy here that says he saw the robbery. I am not so sure I buy his story. What do you want us to do with him?”
I smiled. No one is dead. No one is injured. I am pretty sure I had on my best June Cleaver voice, in spite of my lack of pearls at 3:00 in the morning.
“Um. I think you meant to call my husband, dear,” I stated, sure the young officer could imagine my pearls even though he probably had no idea who June Cleaver even was.
“Okay. I mean um. What do you want us to do with him?” The young officer’s voice cracked. I could almost hear his heart palpitate through the phone line. He didn’t sound quite grown up enough to even be out at 3:00 in the morning, much less questioning a potential criminal.
“I think you should ask the Sarg that. Do you need his cell phone number? This is his home phone that you called.” I smiled but not laughing at the poor thing.
“No Ma’am. I have it. I think I called his home number by mistake. I, um, I am very sorry, Ma’am.” I am pretty sure I heard sweat dripping onto his phone.
“Not at all. Why don’t you hang up with me and call him. Have a safe night now.” I was in full-blown-Mom mode as I advised my late, night caller.
“Yes Ma’am. Thank you, Ma’am. Um, have a good evening.”
“You as well. Good night,” I said but the young officer had already hung up. I hung up as well and looked at the caller ID name and giggled. I couldn’t wait for my husband, John, to get home so we could giggle together over it.
But we didn’t giggle. I greeted him at the kitchen door hours later ready to laugh with him. He shook his head, referred to the young officer as a “knucklehead,” kissed my cheek, and went to bed. I wouldn’t see him for another seven or eight hours while he slept. Sigh…
The best part of John working overnights was that he was either working or sleeping. The worst part of John working overnights was that when he was off and was home, I wished that he was either working or sleeping. I began to refer to that season of our marriage as when he was “nurturing his inner…jerk.” Let’s say jerk but the word I want to use begins with “a” and ends with an “e”. Hint: IT is not “awesome”.
I could do Christmas morning at 4:00 am. I could put off Thanksgiving until late at night. I could go to church alone, every week, less the weekends he was off, to the point that everyone thought I was a single mom with a new boyfriend. I could drive all of our children everywhere alone. I could and I did. When John was off from his 8-4 or 4-12 rotating shifts, he was all husband and all daddy. We almost never argued. We didn’t bicker. We had great kids. We had a wonderful life but…
John was not the John I was used to in the least. I felt like I was married to a police sergeant because that is who would show up at the dinner table, at the pool during the summer, and mowing the lawn. I was not used to all Sarge all the time…and I began to wonder if our marriage could survive. Try as I might, I was having a hard time trying to reconcile the thought that this may well be our life, for real, forever. I was trying my best to not fight with him while I was trying to fight for my marriage.
After almost a year of midnights, I finally spelled it all out. I confessed to him that I was miserable. I told him I had not been that lonely since I was a single girl living alone. He was shaving in the bathroom when I stood in the doorway and dropped that on him. There was no “good” time to talk so I chose one where at least he was a somewhat-captive audience to my complaint. I admitted to him that I no longer felt that security of our life together. I found myself unsure of how talk to him, how to tell him things and how to react to his harshness. I did my best not to cry as I told him I missed him and our life.
No one in the police world will be surprised to learn that he was SHOCKED to learn all of this. Honestly, he thought things were going pretty well. He was actually considering staying on midnights for another year or so. The man who can’t take a walk in the woods without treating it like a detective walking a crime scene had missed all of the clues.
He walked across the bathroom, shaving cream still on his cheeks, put his hands on either side of my face and said: “I don’t want any of this if it means I am only doing it for myself. Please wait for me. I will be right here.”
I bet you want me to tell you the scene where Scarlett O’Hara wakes with a smile on her face indicating what had happened the night before is my closing statement. Well, not exactly… there may or may not be a couple of Scarlett moments somewhere in there. It was several more weeks before he gave me the news that he was offered the opportunity to get off of the overnight shift. He didn’t want to take it but he did. He took it for me, for us.
It has been years since that young, new police officer called our house at 3:00 in the morning. Just recently, with our kids at the breakfast table, we all giggled over the young officer who called me by mistake at 3:00 in the morning. That giggle was a long time coming, but come it did.
By Maryellen Schlusser, guest writer for NALES