An Ordinary Spring Day

One of those clear spring perfect temperature days is so rare here in Abilene, but this one was. The blue of the sky seemed to be from a movie set, too brilliant to be real. Grass was coming in emerald green, causing dads to think about mowing and moms to think about pedicures. The day held the promise that not one thing could possibly go wrong.

A TAKS testing day, even the state of Texas agreed: this should be a regular old school day, only quieter. Students should come to school well fed and well rested. The state couldn’t do much about how badly those same students longed to be outside in the glorious weather, if a tad on the windy side. It seemed the only danger of the day would be a wayward toddler, blown away by the stiff West Texas wind.

But then.

Sirens began to sound, phones began to ring, news crews were rounded up. “Officer down.” Officer Rodney Holder, killed in a motorcycle collision on Sayles Boulevard. Abilene took a collective gasp.

The loss of Officer Holder struck my own family to our core, as his family is dear to each of us. Officer Holder was “our officer” at our local elementary school. Tall and imposing in his uniform, Officer Holder was a regular figure on campus.

If you needed an officer to remind you not to do drugs, Officer Holder would come. If you needed a safety vehicle, Officer Holder would bring his motorcycle or a police car. The kids and parents knew him and his wide smile, a regular presence, the very symbol of safety and security.

*Officer Holder, right, with his friend and mine, Officer Ricker.

Things like losing a police officer aren’t supposed to happen on a regular day, are they? It was a TAKS day, for crying out loud. Mrs. Holder, the school counselor, had TAKS tests to distribute and count and sign and keep watch over. No, this day had taken a meteoric leap.

The occasions I have been blessed to be riding in a car while “great with child,” heading to the hospital to deliver the baby, I have been very mindful that the day around me is an ordinary day for those driving past, yet my world was shifting on its axis, never to return.

The same thought occurs riding in a funeral procession, watching people stop to buy gasoline or groceries, or fill up at the drive thru or catch a movie. Life is forever changed, yet somehow it goes on for the rest of the world.

Many phrases can cause a life to turn upside down in an instant: “The doctor called. It’s not good.” “They cut my job.” “Mom...(insert any of a million ways your child’s world could be rocked).” “I’m so sorry. There isn’t anything else we can do.” “There’s been an accident.”

In those moments, the lens of life seems to tighten into sharper focus. What is truly important becomes clear: those that we love, the things in life that will last, and the grievances that are worth getting upset about.

Turns out, there are only a precious few things in life worth taking the time and energy to fuss about when life is so dear. May my ordinary day words to my children be, “Have a great day! I love you!” Turns out, all too often, it’s, “Don’t slam the door!” or “You didn’t forget your lunch AGAIN, did you?”

As the weather continues to warm and we are again blessed with azure skies, emerald grass and just a little too much wind, I remember Officer Holder. I will back my foot off of the gas pedal, as I do tend to drive a little, um, “efficiently” I like to call it. Officer Holder called it speeding and longed for the streets of Abilene to be safe.

I will clutch my babies and my spouse just a little too long every morning, being sure they know I love them before life flies past us.

Thank you, Officer Holder, for continuing to teach the city of Abilene.

Thankful for all of our men and women in uniform, as well as their families, for whom there are no ordinary days.

Officer Rodney Holder, E.O.W.: April 29, 2010.


Anonymous said...

oh Sarah...this brings tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss, your school's loss and for the city of Abiline.
At this moment, I sit barracaded in our bathroom, waiting out tornadic weather, while my chilren are at school a couple of miles away. Sirens blasting. And a funnel cloud was seen over the city hall -- located between me and my kids. I'm sure it will all turn out well...but you are so right, you never know when an ordinary spring day will take a dramatic turn.

Freda Mac (who needs to find her password so she won't be "anonymous" but isn't going to venture out of her safe place right now)

Ginger said...

I remember that day all too well. It will be forever etched in my mind. I will never forget the strength Officer Holder's wife and son demonstrated in the days following the tragedy. I pray for them this week as well as his friends and fellow officers as they, and we the community, remember this wonderful man. Thank you for your tribute.

Roxanne said...

What a wonderful tribute to a true civil servant. So sorry for their loss.

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