Every parent fears the late night knock of a cop

The RCMP doesn’t drive to your house at 1:30 a.m. and take off its hat to tell you you’ve won the 6/49

It was early enough Saturday morning to fairly be described as Friday night.

We woke up when the dog barked.

Now, the dog is notorious for yelping at passing butterflies and baby carriages. But there was a mild sense of alarm, given it was very early on Saturday morning.

Someone was knocking.

Dressing in what was closest on the bedroom floor, we stumbled to the back door and saw the cruiser out the window.

A lone police officer stood on the porch, solemn-faced and holding his cap respectfully before his midsection.

The RCMP doesn’t drive to your house at 1:30 a.m. and take off its hat to tell you you’ve won the 6/49.

So how long does it take you to count to four?

There were two DeMeer children in their beds, one daughter who ought to have been tucked into her university dormitory room in Kingston, Ont., and one son working the night shift at the mill.

We opened the door and the officer stepped back. He asked: Is this the residence of {insert your child’s name here}?

This was three years ago, not long after our family moved to Princeton.

Since then, my mind has occasionally sought out a metaphor for what that’s like, hearing that question from a solemn, respectful police officer on the doorstep.

Couldn’t catch one.

Mentally and physically, things stopped functioning as they should. The hand holding together my hastily donned bathrobe fell uselessly to one side.

Police officers see some terrible things in the line of duty.

One of us whispered: He’s at work.

He asked: Are you sure? When is the last time you spoke to {insert}?

Well, of course we were sure.

Weren’t we? What was the right answer to that question? Had there really been a terrible industrial accident? Should we insist he was somewhere else?

The officer then said that a vehicle registered to our son was discovered by Kelowna police, pushed into the bush near Peachland, burnt so thoroughly it was impossible to tell if it contained human remains.

Okay. Definitely he was at work.

Mind and body were still not clicking on all cylinders.

The car was one {insert} had purchased that Friday and it had mechanical problems on the way home. He left it at the side of the road with the intention of returning the following day to pick it up.

The officer was not wholly satisfied regarding {insert’s} whereabouts, and said he would have to go to the plant to check.

The youngest DeMeer hovered in the background. Funnily enough, completely forgot for a few moments that we had other children. He piped up and reported that {insert} was on break half an hour earlier, and had sent him a Facebook message.

He was at work.

The officer gave me a phone number for Kelowna RCMP, and said it was important to call right away and let them know the owner of the vehicle was located and safe.

That was a very kind cop, too. We spent a few minutes chatting about the night we’d had, and he concluded by saying he was sorry about {insert’s} car.

Really, constable? There are three other cars out in the driveway and right now it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if they all burst into flames.

It shouldn’t take a cop on the back step to make a person focus on how precious her family is to her, and that no matter how many problems you think you have, if your kids are okay there is really nothing else worth worrying about.

But the experience was a reality-check, to be sure.

Mom stayed up til 4:30 a.m., contemplating the feeling of dodging a LGM-30 III ICBM (Aha, there’s the metaphor) and waiting for {insert} to come rolling along the highway.

When he walked in the living room he registered immediate concern.

Why are you awake? What’s wrong?

It is actually possible, you know, to laugh and cry simultaneously.

Nothing is wrong. Everything is perfect. We won the lottery. Give me a hug and tell me what you want for breakfast.

Oh – and some cop came by and told us your new car got burned up in a fire.

Isn’t that the best news ever?

Andrea DeMeer is the editor and publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.

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