Scarlet Fever Can Be Dangerous- Six Years Later
In 2013 I wrote a post about surviving the first few years of the RCMP life. Find it here: https://www.survivingaverage.ca/post/2013/04/05/scarlet-fever-can-be-dangerous-the-rcmp-life
It hit a chord with spouses everywhere- the learning curve of navigating a relationship with a newly minted police officer is universally difficult. The waters aren’t just unpredictable, they’re treacherous, and sometimes you don’t even recognize the boat you left shore in. But I learned as I went that as long as everyone on the boat kept talking, remained clear on where they were headed, calmer waters were just up ahead.
I knew then that I certainly didn’t have it all figured out- I still don’t. Having been around both successful RCMP marriages, and watching the unnerving ends of others, I saw that my future was not just on the shoulders of the two people who took the vow to be married to each other. Saying ‘I do’ to a police officer meant being inextricably intertwined with one of us ALSO swearing to serve and protect.
I wrote the last post as my husband started his career in plain clothes units, where he still is now. I didn’t know then how this new branch of policing would affect our lives any more than I thought he looked hot in dress clothes with a gun and badge on his belt.
But friends, our boat was about to go from a small raft to a speed boat crammed with three kids, a dog, and the unexpected baggage life throws at you.
I found myself in a whole new chapter of “the RCMP life”.
Standing next to any member can sometimes make you feel like you’re invisible. We can sometimes feel like a supporting actor in a much more interesting story. Since he began his career, and people found out what they did for a living, it felt like his profession began to define us both. Then... he took a job with Major Crimes.
No one wants to know the cool story behind how you got the lasagna made, the house cleaned AND binged a season on Netflix when you’re married to a homicide cop. No.
In a crowd of people that don’t know you well (because those that do would never ask) they want gritty details, they want anecdotes to take to their next cocktail party, and they want real-life true crime coming from the star himself. And the truth is, it’s easy for people to think from the amount of podcasts, Netflix documentaries, and generalized obsession with true crime that real homicide detectives want to talk about what they do and what they’ve seen. Let me tell you on behalf of my husband that they really, really don’t.
So, yes. Sometimes being the “other”-whether you feel significant or not, has you wondering what exactly you signed up for in this beautifully messy RCMP life- even 13 years after you navigated the first set of rapids together.
Listen, I willingly put my hand up and said I was along for the ride. I married a Mountie and knew that saying ‘I do’ also meant saying ‘I won’t’.
I won’t put down roots in any one place for too long, I won’t have a husband that is home every evening and weekend, and I definitely won’t google the salary range for other police forces late at night.
But it’s becoming evident that what while I focused on the ‘I won’t’s at the beginning, as his career continues to demand more from him, there’s a whole lot more of ‘I will’s that are beginning to float to the surface.
I will see how it’s taken a toll on him. I will notice the bags under his eyes, the increased salt and pepper sprinkled throughout his hair. I will feel the tossing and turning next to me on the long nights, and the tight hugs he gives to our kids that seem more for him than them.
I will spend weeks alone while he’s away for work, I will create a Wonder Woman-esque schedule for myself and the kids that means everyone gets to all their activities, while I sit in my minivan and wonder how I’m gonna do this again next week.
I will meet people and live places that will stay in my heart long after the moving truck took the things. I will hear heartbreaking stories, and stories of triumph against all odds that can only be mined by a life spent in places I would have otherwise never travelled.
I will try my very best to understand that he is always on-call, even on the weeks when he’s not being paid, and that his colleagues are far more than coffee conversations and water cooler chit chat. But I will call him out if he fails at being as on-call for us as he is for work.
I will have a place to crash from BC to Nova Scotia, I will love the kids of our RCMP family like they’re my own nieces and nephews. I will never forget how deep, and how vast ‘Red Serge Proud’ reaches, and I will wish to never see the black and blue memorial pin ever again.
But most importantly, of all the things I started off knowing, and all the things I am learning with time, I will not lose myself, or my marriage, even in the heart of the storm.
So, six years later I’m reiterating the same ending I did the first time.
This RCMP life isn’t easy. You’ll fall off the boat, and feel like you’re floating away when suddenly the rope hits you on the head and you‘ll pull yourselves back into the boat soaked, but together.
The truth is that if you want the spectacular views we get with this life, you have to weather the storm- sometimes shouting to be heard through the noise.
I still don’t have it figured out, I probably never will. But what I have learned is that you’ll get stronger and stronger with every storm. And when anxiety rises, and the unknowns pile up as I envision our future while naively trying to anticipate what could be around the next bend, I take peace in reminding myself that one day, God-willing, we will have seen all we wanted to see, and will sail off into the sunset together.
Or as Mounties call it- retiring to the island.