February 23, 2023

A Letter to the Wife of a Fallen Hero. 

It was early evening when I finally returned home from a long day touring out of state colleges with my youngest daughter.

I had just sat down to unwind when the news broke of a police officer who had been shot and killed. My heart instantly sank to the pit of my soul.

I clicked on the headline.

Officer Christopher Fitzgerald, a Temple University police officer, had been shot and killed on duty.

This was the first ever death of a police officer on duty for the university.

As the details of the incident were still unravelling, stories of the events leading up to his death flooded my social media accounts.

I cried.

I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I didn’t know him, but his death shook me to my core.

He was just 31 years old, a husband and father of four.

Thoughts of his beautiful wife and sweet children invaded my every move. My heart was breaking for these complete strangers.

I needed to write to her. I wanted to tell her something.


Dear Wife of a fallen Hero:

When someone leaves us, their loved ones are left to carry on the memory of who they were so the world would never forget. We hear stories of what a loving partner they were, what an amazing father they were, and what a great friend and colleague they were.

But not many have complete strangers who will carry on those memories.

I didn’t know your husband, but his memory will live in me forever.

I am not writing to you as a woman who just lost the love of her life. I’ve been through heartbreak, but I can’t even begin to know how you feel. I’ve never experienced losing my soulmate to a senseless act.

Nor am writing to you about your children or how they are now forced to cope with the loss of their father. I grew up without a father, but he chose to walk away. Their father was suddenly ripped away from them without warning.

I am writing to you as the mother of a student who attends the college that your husband protected.

Your husband was a hero.

It’s because of your brave husband that I was able to sleep at night during my son’s first year at college. Officer Fitzgerald effortlessly patrolled the dangerous streets of Temple University in the city of Philadelphia while my son moved about his day to and from classes.

It’s because of your husband that my son felt completely safe while attending college. Officer Fitzgerald diligently showed up each and every day to fill the campus with safety, ease, and calm.

It’s because of your husband that my son will grow into the man that he was meant to be through his experiences at college. Officer Fitzgerald provided a space that was filled with freedom and security for my son who was living away from home for the very first time in his life.

Your husband was a f*cking hero.

He was courageous. It took mental strength to withstand the danger he encountered every day.

He was a role model. Others looked to him as a good example because he was worthy of imitation. He represented an inspirational ideal.

He was selfless. He put the needs of others before himself. He cared about people. He sacrificed his own wants, desires, and needs for the good of those around him.

He was caring. He showed concern for and kindness to others.

He was a good person. Good people are trustworthy, honest, compassionate, understanding, forgive often, respect others, have courage and good will. Good people make the world a better place.

He was a true leader who always put others first.

He was that person who got the undivided attention of all of us and caused change. He was willing to risk his own life to save another, including an entire campus of students.

He found something that he believed in. And he inspired other heroes.

Heroes are called upon to make a journey or to follow a goal.

Heroes give us wisdom. Heroes enhance us. Heroes provide moral modeling. Heroes offer protection.

I am forever grateful for your husband’s unwavering devotion to his job, his brave soul that kept people safe, and his beautiful heart that cared for the well-being of each and every student.

Officer Fitzgerald not only made a difference to this mother but to the city of Philadelphia and the entire world.

Officer Fitzgerald made this world a better place.

His memory will live on each time my son puts a smile on my face.

His memory will live on every time I hug my son.

His memory will live on as I watch my son marry and have a family of his own.

Officer Fitzgerald was a hero to me, a complete stranger. He changed my life forever because of his determination, bravery, honesty, courage, helpfulness, inspiration, conviction, and moral integrity.

Officer Christopher Fitzgerald touched the lives of everyone he has ever encountered because he was changing the world. Because he was making a difference.

May his memory live on in each and every one of us.

Yours truly,

Mother of a student at Temple University


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