Bruce Robert Coffin here. Last night I had the pleasure of spending an evening with some of my former colleagues. It was a planned event at a local watering hole in Portland’s Old Port. Of the dozen or so who’d been invited only seven of us were able to attend. Seven doesn’t sound like many until you factor in that we don’t all reside in the same state, or country for that matter. Sometimes life gets in the way.
In spite of our diminished numbers we had a blast. Regaling each other with war stories from our combined five decades in law enforcement, it was as if we’d seen each other only last week. It’s funny how some professions can bond people together even with widely varied backgrounds and interests. The badge we wore transcends all of those differences and makes us brothers. Since leaving the job our lives have taken vastly different paths, although ironically several of us have become authors. We discussed our current lives but the majority of the evening was spent reliving the past. The tales we told were of a time gone by. Some were funny, some absolutely hysterical, and many will never see prime time. Like most war stories they get better with age. Some of them we had all heard before but like a comfortable old chair it’s always like coming home.
During our careers we all experienced too much pain and too much death, the things we continue to carry like unseen luggage, but for this gathering it was the funny, the quirky, and the totally unbelievable on which we focused. Although it went unsaid, I knew that everyone seated at the table remembered and missed our many fallen brothers and sisters. The years have caused our numbers to dwindle and last evening’s toasts were as much for those no longer with us as for our reconvening.
As the youngster among them, I couldn’t help noticing how much each of us had changed. The young street warriors we once played were but a distant memory. Failing vision and hearing and balding heads have become the norm. Some of us walk a bit slower and spend more time visiting the doctor than we’d like. I realize now that the phrase ‘back in the day’ has taken on an entirely different meaning. Things have changed. None of us have escaped the ravages of time. Still, as the drinks flowed and the meal was eaten, I caught more than one glimpse of the sparkle of youth in the eyes of my companions.
As it always does, time passed much too quickly and our evening was at an end. We said our goodbyes and promised to stay in touch until the next blue reunion. As I sit here typing this blog it occurs to me how happy I am that I chose police work as my first career. For those of you still on the job be safe and never take for granted the bonds of friendship you have made or the experiences you have shared.