Every once in a while, I have these fits. They’re a little like fits in the old sense of the word in that I have times when I can’t control myself.

*Big confession here*

Every once in a while, I write poetry. I don’t know what good poetry looks like [I usually can’t stand to read it… too obscure for my liking. I’m a blunt girl.] which means that mine probably sucks. However, it is honest, and that’s what I value most in people, including myself, so it makes sense that I would be honest in my poetry.

My favorite one is about Steve. Readers who don’t know me in real life don’t know it yet, but my husband is a State Trooper here in our home state. When I wrote this poem on April 14, 2005, we had just lost one of our troopers to a murderer who ambushed him in his driveway, all because he was under investigation for a hit-and-run accident that resulted in the death of the driver’s best friend.

The trooper who was killed was involved in the investigation, and for some reason, the killer thought that by killing Sgt. Graham, he would stop the investigation [maybe, I really don’t know what he was thinking].

It was the first trooper we had lost since Steve joined the patrol in January, 2005, and I still can’t believe how personal the loss was for me, since I had never met the man. There is a strange brotherhood between cops. Sometimes it can be a bad thing [we’ve all heard stories of cops giving fellow officers ‘breaks’ when perhaps they shouldn’t have] but for the most part, it is a good thing. I can’t tell you how much it adds to my peace of mind that our city and county officers stop and check on Steve when he has someone pulled over.

They look out for each other’s safety on the road, and that is a good thing.

Six days after I wrote the poem, we lost another trooper in the line of duty. He was on his way to help with a manhunt for a fugitive who had shot a deputy in the face. The deputy survived, but Trooper Tatoian hit a semi who was parked partially in the passing lane of the highway. The truck driver had stopped to help in another accident, and instead of parking on the shoulder of the driving lane, he parked on the other side. Trooper Tatoian avoided the accident, but couldn’t see over the top of the hill, and rear-ended the semi. He was killed instantly.

In the first seventy three years’ history of the Missouri State Highway Patrol we had only lost twenty three officers in the line of duty. In 2005, we lost four, bringing the number to 27. Cpl. John A. “Jay” Sampietro and Tpr. Donald K. “Kevin” Floyd were both killed by sober drivers who weren’t paying attention to the road. In Missouri, we have a law that requires motorists to change lanes or slow down [if changing lanes is impossible] any time they see an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road with its lights flashing.

The law has been on the books for around three years, it was put into effect after Trooper Michael L. Newton was killed in 2003. Both Cpl. Sampietro and Tpr. Floyd died because motorists ignored that law.

I was taught that it was common courtesy to change lanes when I saw some one on the shoulder, whether it was an emergency vehicle or not. People are so busy now that they forget to pay attention to the road. We all do it. Hell, I get distracted sometimes, too. But nothing you do in your car is worth the life of another.

Each of the troopers who died last year left behind families. Sgt. Graham left his fiancee and a four year old son. Tpr. Tatoian left a wife and three kids, including an eight month old son who will never have his own memories of his father. Cpl. Sampietro left a wife and two young sons, ages four and ten months. Tpr. Floyd left a wife and two teenaged kids.

My kids are eight, five, and two. To say that these deaths hit too close to home for me is an understatement. And sometimes when I feel stuff a little too much, I feel the need to write a poem about it.

The poem isn’t about the troopers who were killed, but it is about my husband, who really is my hero.


By Shelbi

Sleep pants, t-shirt
Fuzzy morning hair
He plays
Feeding Kids
He laughs
Changing diapers
He cries
When it hurts
He sings
About everything

Midnight blue
Stressed-out mom
Vent sessions
He listens
Holds me close
“I love you”
Ten years together
I see in his eyes
He still means it

So proud of him
For reaching the goal
Living his dream
To protect and serve
I know the danger
But how could I say “no?”
It changed my life
Watching him succeed
Made me believe
In myself
For the first time

Change comes
With the uniform
No longer just my safe,
Precious husband.
Quiet confidence
A layer of steel
Compassion, danger
Servant and protector
Of the nameless public

He catches “bad guys”
But mostly good people
Making bad choices
Tough decisions
Routine with this job
Change lives in an instant
Maybe mine
If someone forgets
Takes it personal
Becomes a coward
And Fights

Have made the ultimate sacrifice
Not a day goes by
That I don’t remember
Think of their families
And pray
That such pain
Never becomes mine

No guarantees
In this life
So I cherish each day
And pray for another
With him
Every time I hear
His key in the lock
Relief rests
On silent wings
And I go to welcome
My hero Home

I love you, Stevie.


About Shelbi

Work-at-home wife, mom of three kids, and caregiver for my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy. Never a dull moment, in other words. No idea how much I'll post, since I'm super busy these days, but maybe I'll get over here once in a while.

2 responses »

  1. Oh Shelbi-Lou (I have no idea why I just called you that), but what a beautiful, truthful, poem. Girl, I love it!!!!! You not only told your story with Steve and a story about the Highway Patrol Family, but you helped me have a “glimpse” into the life of what it means to be connected to that kind of family. I saw your heart in that poem, and that stuff makes me realize, it’s worth starting preschool late today because I got to see someone’s heart. I know, I’m such a sap, but I soooooo mean it! You definitley rock:) Have a great day and weekend with your hero!

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