ON AMY PIERSON'S PREGNANCY
Amy Pierson is pregnant.
The police officer’s widow.
Her husband was gunned down at the beginning of last September. She spoke at the killer’s sentencing last week, and was on the front page of the paper the next day.
On the front page in a big picture kneeling down to tend her fallen husband’s grave.
Wearing, it seems, the same tank top she is wearing in the picture a blogger posted a couple of days later in which, posing next to a smiling man, she is holding up sonogram pictures of the baby she is carrying.
I wondered if she was pregnant.
When I saw her at the sentencing, she looked bustier. First-trimester bustier.
And I was right.
She is pregnant.
And some are angry. They feel betrayed. They feel that the mourning-widow thing was all an act, that maybe she played them, and maybe she did it to keep the fund-raisers rolling along.
I don’t feel that way.
I feel like I have always felt: That Amy Pierson is a tragic and complex figure who has faced an unimaginable hell because of her husband’s service to us as a police officer.
For me, that’s never going to change.
Further, because of what she has faced as the result of being a cop’s wife, I am always going to support her and have her back. I feel like that is what we as a society owe here, and I’m going to uphold my end of the bargain.
For me, that’s never going to change.
But I recognize that for many reasonable people, things have changed, and the anger and disappointment are real. Yes, some of it comes from people who are typically anti-cop. But I have also heard angry rumblings from people who are very supportive of the police, and from within the police community itself.
In fact, the blogger who first posted the picture – who has very good police sources for someone who is essentially an anti-police writer – seems to have gotten the picture from someone in the law enforcement family.
So I would like to offer this defense.
Amy Pierson, in my observation, is a strong but brittle person who, I suspect, has been kicked in the head a time or two by life. Like all of us, and especially like those at her stage of life, she is trying to figure out her way forward.
I also believe that she has experienced in her life times when she has been emotionally unwell.
Then last fall, right smack in the middle of the postpartum lull after her daughter’s birth, her husband was murdered.
In the middle of that unfathomable grief, she was thrust into the center of an unavoidable media storm. She was forced by circumstance to endure her worst days in an unblinking public eye.
In that period, she was taken advantage of. In more than one way, and for more than one motive, people exploited her tragedy for their own benefit.
But still she stood in front of the TV cameras and spoke words of strength and faith that represented and bolstered the entire community.
She comforted us in her hour of trial.
We heard her words at her husband’s funeral, we saw her accepting his flag. She was the rock-solid cop’s wife, the anchor point in a season of community mourning.
But at home, behind closed doors, she was sometimes emotionally destroyed, unable to get out of bed or leave her house for long periods of time. She sometimes sobbed for hours on end.
And then the fund-raisers began.
Not by her, and not at her suggestion.
In what almost turned into a competition of extravagance, group after group and person after person decided to sponsor a benefit. And at each one, for each check passing and each speech, she had to be present. Not because she wanted to, but because they demanded she be.
Not to attend would be seen as ingratitude.
Not to attend would disrespect her husband’s memory.
So she subjected herself to dozens of events at which thousands of people told her how sad they were for the death of her husband. Their intentions were good but their impact was devastating, as day after day brought no escape from the months-long process of community mourning and grief.
When the trial came, she cracked.
She came for the first day, and said she would come for every day, but she broke.
The reality of it overcame her.
She issued a couple of notes of apology.
Then she issued a statement of new direction.
She said that she was going to step back from the public eye. She said that she was going to go on with her life. She said that she would always love and treasure her slain husband, but that she had to take care of herself and her kids, and it was time for life to begin again.
I read that statement twice on the air. It was posted on Facebook. It was real.
In the spring, Amy Pierson told me that she had started seeing a man. He was a friend from before and during her marriage, whom she had begun seeing socially since her husband’s death. He and his country home gave her escape. He was good with the kids. He took her shooting.
Of course I worried that it was too soon.
Not for the sake of appearances, but for the sake of a shattered heart and psyche, still groping through whatever stages of reconstruction come after the violent loss of a spouse.
Did I say anything?
No, because it was her business and not mine. Because most people don’t need criticism, they need support.
Was I disappointed to see that man beside her as they beamed over the sonogram pictures?
Yes, of course I was.
I worry that such a quick relationship may not be a stable relationship. I fret that the preacher’s daughter is pregnant and unmarried. I suspect that this will kill some of the community goodwill for her.
I fear that this might hurt the feelings of her husband’s family, outstanding people I have come to love who have largely suffered through their loss in the shadow of the media attention focused on Amy.
Many will think it is too soon, some will think her tears for Daryl were an act.
Yes, there is room for disappointment.
But I can’t cast the first stone, and I can’t see how being the wife of a murdered police officer makes her personal life any of anybody’s damn business.
We can’t pigeon hole her as one thing.
Yes, she is the widow of a murdered cop. But she is also a woman and mother for whom life and time go on. Of course she may date if she wishes. Of course she may fall in love. She can even carry a child.
Those things are her business, they are not ours.
And to the extent we are aware of them, we should rejoice that she has apparently found a new happiness in her life. We congratulate people on love and children, we don’t condemn them.
And we recognize that “too soon” is meaningless, that love comes when it comes, and the heart operates on its own schedule.
I believe Amy Pierson loves and misses her husband, and will for the rest of her life. I also believe Amy Pierson can fall in love with another man, and even bear his child. I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive.
I believe that Amy Pierson loves her God and has relied on him for strength. Her statements of faith have encouraged us all. But the apparent fact she has stumbled in the living of her faith does not diminish the truthfulness of it or the faithfulness of her. All believers are imperfect, all are striving to be better, all try to reconcile their actions with their beliefs.
But most of all, I don’t think it’s any of our business.
It’s her life and her heart, and she marches to her standards, not ours. Amy Pierson is like you and me, imperfect and getting through life the best she can. Sometimes she gets it right and sometimes she doesn’t. But still she presses on.
Like us all.
I have seen her weep, and I have seen her smile, and I prefer the smile.
I hope this community can say the same.
I hope this community can wish this woman another chance at happiness in life.
I hope this community understands it can never pay this woman back for the grief she bore on our behalf.
I hope this community will offer this woman its prayers, instead of its curses.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2015