By Francis Perez
On January 15th 2013 my life was turned upside down, I lost my partner and best friend, Sgt. II James J. Bilodeau from LAPD Swat. First I thought that I was dreaming when I got the phone call from the Redondo Beach police Department asking me if I knew James so I said yes, he is my partner is something wrong? The officer said, well, we need you to come to the hospital; he passed out behind the wheel. I asked if he was ok and all that the officer said was Miss Perez you need to come down to the hospital.
I remember the ride to the hospital took forever even though it was probably only 10 minutes. When I got to the hospital my heart was racing, I just wanted to know that Jim was OK. When I arrived a nurse came and spoke with me and I asked where Jim was, is he ok, what is going on? She told me to sit down and I said no, I don’t want to sit, please tell me what is going on? She grabbed my hand and said I don’t have good news, I’m sorry but James passed away from a heart attack, we did everything we could.
My immediate reaction was this can’t happen, I want to see him I told her and as she tried to calm me I asked again to see him. She took me to him and I couldn’t believe that my partner was gone. I remember rushing to him, shaking him, calling him to wake up and not to leave me, this can’t be happening, I just spoke with him two hours ago. I asked God why, why, this isn’t fair. He only had three months to retirement and we had so many plans for the future, why?
I had to break the news to my 12 year old daughter who loved Jim like a father, knowing how much it was going to hurt her. I wanted to be strong for her and tried not to cry in front of her so she would not worry.
Through my loss I met Officer Roz Curry and while she held my hand she introduced me to the LAPD Family Support Group. When I met these ladies they knew what I was going through they knew what it was like to be in my shoes. I remember people would tell me I know what you are going through and I would think to myself, not you, your life didn’t change in one day, you haven’t lost your partner and best friend, your life isn’t upside down.
There are days I am still angry and ask why this happened but I have the understanding, compassion and the open arms from this group of ladies from the Family Support Group.
I also know in my heart that God has a plan; I don’t know what it is yet. When I feel down, because I have my days and moments, and in those moments I pray to God and also ask for strength to continue the journey of my life and daughter. I know that James would want me to continue my life happy and healthy.
Today I belong to the Family Support Group where these ladies have given me strength and compassion. I can be a part of this amazing group and know that if I need a lift and support or if it’s the opposite to help another member. I know that we are here to help each other and pick each other up when we need to. I know that God and James are looking down on me and my daughter. I know that right now I just take it day by day, moment by moment, I know in my heart God has a journey for me and my daughter.