Sharpe: To love hard through life and death

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What does it mean to love hard?

There is no clear definition in Google’s knowledge banks. The urban dictionary contains mostly vague and irrelevant ideas. A variety of online authors offer their expertise. I will add my definition here.

Loving hard means living a life of passion for the people and causes you care about. Loving hard means commitment, dedication, vulnerability, and a desire to do good out of love, even when it takes hard work and even when it hurts.

Love and pain – two emotions that have run through our community since the tragic loss of CJ Nelson on July 19.

The Nelson family has been dear to my family since my children had Jenefer as their kindergarten teacher. Our family’s relationship evolved over years of involvement at school and through mutual friends, but as the children grew older, our contact lessened in frequency.

It had been some time since I last saw CJ, but our last interaction is etched in my memory.

My daughter and I were selling Girl Scout cookies outside Dunkin’ Donuts in Edmond on a Saturday. There was a small car accident in the parking lot. A police officer from Edmond responded to the call on a motorcycle.

“Do you think that’s Officer Nelson?” asked my daughter. My family knew that Officer Nelson was synonymous with Edmond’s Motorcycle Patrol.

CJ loved being on that bike, a fact he and Jenefer shared with me. I once asked Jenefer how she was okay with him working in traffic on a motorbike every day, considering the risks. She told me that he was always safe and that he was a very experienced rider, and that the bike was something he loved.

My daughter and I watched as the response officer navigated the scene, interacting with both parties, processing information in a professional manner so everyone could get on with their day.

It’s one of the many ways the police help us, I explained to my then 11-year-old daughter, who was probably too young to understand the nuances of a mudguard, but certainly old enough to understand the eruption of police-related backlash. news across the United States

The officer, done with his responsibilities, walked over to our cookie-selling table. I wasn’t used to seeing CJ on duty, so he wasn’t immediately familiar to me in his full uniform and protective gear.

But his smile betrays him. “Are you causing trouble here?” he joked.

This uniformed superhero was our CJ Nelson.

We spent the next few minutes catching up. He shared his renewed passion for fitness, how he changed his workout regimen and modified his diet with impressive results. He asked about my children, shared news about him. Then he explained how he organized his wife’s birthday party.

As CJ gushed about what he arranged to celebrate Jenefer, it was clear how deeply he treasured his wife and the mother of his two children.

He was a tough loving man.

It melted my heart. I know many women who would feel blessed to find a man who loves them the way CJ loved Jenefer.

At the end of our tour together, CJ bought a box or two of Girl Scout cookies, apologizing that he couldn’t buy more due to limited storage space on his bike.

We waved at him as he walked away, heading south into the Broadway Extension to continue his patrol, eventually looping around the Edmond-OKC border, probably similar to he did it on that terrible Tuesday afternoon when he lost his life in public service.

Love was the theme of statements, news reports, reactions, and the community’s response to CJ’s death. It was central to his celebration of life on July 25.

My memory of CJ will forever be of him being a tough magnet. I would aspire to follow suit.

Jennifer Sharpe is the Special Projects Editor for The Journal Record.

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