Kim Henderson: Across the courtroom aisle

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, October 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD commentator Kim Henderson now on an incident involving her policeman husband and the mother of the man who attacked him.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: The recent hugging scene in a Texas courtroom reminded me of something that happened early in my husband’s peacekeeping career. It all started with a radio scanner. They told me not to buy one, much less listen to it.

But of course I did anyway. Set it right there on the kitchen table. A Uniden Bearcat, capable of scanning more than 50 radio channels. That night, I was tuned into one–42.120–listening for my lawman husband’s badge number. If I’d been in bed where I belonged, instead of up icing a cake, I wouldn’t have heard the two words a listening wife never wants to hear: Officer down.

Somehow, I got to the scene, a spot lit up in a sea of blue lights. My wise driver wouldn’t let me get out. He was level-headed, and he’d just spent 15 minutes with an aloud-praying woman who didn’t know whether her husband was dead or alive. No, he wouldn’t let me go out until he found out. Something.

The something was good news. An ambulance ride and hospital stay would fix my husband up. They finally led me to where he was sitting, bent over in his Crown Vic. He was wearing a smile and a blood-soaked uniform. I’d ironed the shirt just that morning.

Thanks to an all-out, all-night manhunt (and a girlfriend with loose lips), the guys who had escaped were caught. Investigators retrieved evidence from a creek bed while I retrieved kids from the neighbor. I had my husband. He had a new four-inch scar to hide in his hairline. We were grateful.

Fast forward a few months to the week-long trial. There in the Clay County courtroom, I got a free education. I learned the importance of jury duty and how hard our D.A. worked.

Then I had a lesson from a most unexpected teacher, one who just happened to belong to the defendant.

She sought me out, cutting through the crowd and all our differences. It’s a good thing the lawyers didn’t notice. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t approve of us meeting across an aisle in a courtroom.

But there we were. Me, bowed out with eight months of baby. Her, weighed down with who knows how many years of son-inflicted sorrow. This mother apologized. To me. For him.

In the middle of a courtroom of consequences, she taught me the hard truth of one of the Bible’s proverbs: A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him. I hope she knows I was paying attention. I was young then, with little mothering under my belt. It takes some experience to understand that kind of parental pain.

Years later a fellow lawman shot my husband a text. The population of the state penitentiary had decreased by one.

But it wasn’t my husband’s attacker that I thought of when I heard the news. I thought of her, his mother. She lived through a lot. I wonder. Did she live to see him out?

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

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