Today I attended my first police funeral. I didn't actually know it was a police funeral until we got there, because I didn't know the deceased. I've worked with his wife for several years (she was the city liaison to special event), and I knew her husband was in poor health, so I attended the service to support her.
The service was held in a local brew pub theater, and the place was packed. When we got there I saw the head of the Revenue Bureau, who I expected to be there, as this is the bureau that oversees special events. Then I saw the chief of police and the police honor guard, which was a tip-off that the deceased was a former cop.
Turns out he was an officer for 25 years and a detective who worked with hate crimes for much of it. I was absolutely blown away as we learned more and more about him. He was Asian-American and suffered from ulcerative colitis his whole life. When he was 20 he had most of his intestine removed and was given a colostomy bag. In the early 80s he fought to become a police officer, evidently overcoming policies that said he was physically unfit based on the bag. In actuality, he was extremely fit. He was an avid runner, triathlete and skiier. He completed the Canadian Iron Man competition twice. And a neighbor from childhood said he was an enthusiastic skateboarder before you could actually buy a skateboard (his dad built them for the neighborhood kids).
His entire life he battled physical issues, and finally his body was overcome by infection, including encephalitis. He was in a care center the past year, and I knew it was putting a terrible strain on his wife.
What an inspirational event the memorial service turned out to be. I'm so glad we attended! When the police chief (who is a woman) gave the widow the flag and they 'retired' his badge, the huge room was full of those telltale masculine coughs.
So often I go to a funeral and wish I had known the deceased better. This was one of them.