It’s an odd thing when death is in your midst. When life has to go on, and death’s presence is ever near. It can feel like you’re in some sort of a alter dimension sometimes.
You can be going along, having a beautiful day, and suddenly everything changes. Friday was like that. My husband, kids and I were at Dewberry Farm with our school group and having a fantastic day. We were starting to wind down our trip with my husband got a phone call. I was busy with the kids, so at first I didn’t really notice he had walked away. After I realized he wasn’t right with us, I looked around and found him a bit away. This isn’t unusual behavior for him, I’m used to him pulling back. I’ve learned over the years of being married to a police officer that their very nature is to protect the people around them. Sometimes that means he stays outside on the fringe of things where he can better watch over us.
I could see that he was on the phone, and I’ll admit, I got a little irritated. Here we are, precious family time, time we really don’t get that much of, and he’s on the phone?
It’s probably work again, I thought. Ugh. Can’t I have some time where he’s JUST my husband, and my kids’ father? Can’t he let the job be for once?
He hung up and made another phone call. I’m still gathering the kids, my Type One is going dangerously low, and I’m watching him as he eats his candy. Husband is on the phone….. Still….. My irritation grows.
We start walking to the car, and he’s still hanging back, just enough behind us where he can see us, but he’s not really with us… He’s on the phone…
As we’re getting into the car, he gets another call. This time I hear part of the conversation. The person on the other end is clearly asking if he’s ok. He acknowledges he’s upset and quickly gets off the phone and we all get in the car.
In my own irritation, I could have said something I regretted right then, but I’m so thankful that the Holy Spirit quieted my anger.
I asked if everything was ok, and he said no. I asked what happened and he said we’d talk about it when we got home. When he wouldn’t talk to me, I knew it was bad. I knew someone was hurt or dead.
I got on Facebook and went into my wife group. I saw that an officer had been shot. Before the family is notified, there are no details about who, or whether the officer survived. All I knew was what department. It was not my husband’s department, but our County Sheriff Department.
He knew what I was doing, but just drove silently. I asked him if it was someone we know, and he said yes. At this point, I closed out Facebook and just started praying.
You see, I’m the lucky wife who’s husband is still here. I do not take one second of my time with my police officer for granted, because it is all precious time.
We are in the midst of death now. My mind is already thinking of the loss. I’m already grieving, not knowing who it is. I know who ever it is, it will be painful for their family, and for us. But I also know that my officer, and the officers that were close to this officer are forever changed by this. I didn’t lose my officer that day, but I did lose a piece of him.
Sometimes it feels like this job just keeps taking pieces of our officers until it finally swallows them whole.
And, it takes pieces of me, too.
The officer, who was murdered in cold blood, was Sandeep Dhaliwal. He leaves behind a wife and 3 children. He was an absolute pillar in our community. While the law enforcement community mourns, the community will too.
Deputy Dhaliwal was the first Sikh deputy with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department. He fought for the right to wear his dastar, which is the headwear of the Sikhs, and was able to wear it. He was also an example of his religion, and strove to bring awareness to who they are and what they believe.
If you’re not familiar with Sikhs, here’s some info according to Wikipedia:
Sikhism /ˈsɪkɪzəm/; Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖੀ), or Sikhi (Sikkhī, pronounced [ˈsɪkːʰiː], from Sikh, meaning a “disciple”, “seeker,” or “learner”), is a monotheistic religion that originated in the Punjab region in the northern part of India around the end of the 15th century. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions and the world’s fifth largest organized religion, as well as being the world’s ninth-largest overall religion. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder’s life. In the early 21st century, there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in Punjab, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The Sikh scripture teaches followers to transform the “Five Thieves” (lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego). Guru Nanak taught that living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” is above the metaphysical truth, and that the ideal man is one who “establishes union with God, knows His Will, and carries out that Will”.
Truthfulness, fidelity, self-control, and purity…….. Selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all and honest conduct and livelihood…… These were all lived out in the life of Sandeep Dhaliwal.
I will never forget when we had another officer killed, a friend of Deputy Dhaliwal, named Darren Goforth. From the moment he arrived on scene, Dhaliwal stayed at that scene, holding vigil, and comforting mourners until the funeral. He literally was there day and night. His dedication to honor his friend spoke volumes to all of us around him. When you spoke with him, he was an incredibly warm presence, who just put you at ease. His kind eyes told of his heart to truly be a helper to those he came in contact with. Over the years, as we’ve marked anniversaries of Goforth’s death, Dhaliwal has always been there. His steadfastness is something of rarity.
So, for me, it hurts to know that we lost such a diamond of a soul. It hurts to know that evil seems to have won this battle, and it’s hard to feel like the fight is still worth fighting.
But, we have to. We need to look for the kindness among us. We need to BE the kindness among us. We can not let evil will. We need to remember Sandeep Dhaliwal’s legacy, and we need to strive to duplicate it. That is how we win this battle.
So, I challenge you today- go out and do something to honor his legacy. Rise up and fight evil with love. It’s what Sandeep Dhaliwal strived to do, and we honor him by doing the same.