This may very well be the most beautiful and painful story you will read this week. After a St. Louis County police officer was killed in the line of duty, his widow had his uniforms made into teddy bears for the son he left behind.
Elizabeth Snyder posted an emotional picture on Instagram of their 2-year-old son gleefully hugging the teddy bears made with his father’s uniform. What makes the image so devastating is knowing that the boy doesn’t understand what they mean.
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“He’s been asking for his daddy a lot,” Snyder told Fox in an emotional interview. “Which is hard, because I don’t know how to respond to him yet, because every time I look at him, I’m reminded that my husband’s not coming home.”
Officer Blake Snyder, who was just 33, was fatally shot on Oct. 6. The shooting happened when Snyder responded to a disturbance in the neighborhood of Green Park.
When he arrived on-scene, Snyder found an 18-year–old suspect inside a car, behaving suspiciously. Snyder approached the vehicle, and ordered the man to show his hands. Instead, the suspect shot Snyder once with a 9 mm pistol that was recovered at the scene.
Snyder died a short time later.
The teddy bears are just the latest tribute to Officer Snyder’s memory. A park where he and his wife liked to run has been renamed in his memory. After a petition successfully convinced local officials to rename the park, hundreds of officers gathered for the renaming ceremony.
The image of Officer Snyder’s son, Malachi, was posted on Instagram Tuesday and has been breaking hearts at a viral pace. A St. Louis County Police patch from what was Snyder’s sleeve is now part of the bear. “These beautiful bears were made for us from Blake’s uniform,” Elizabeth Snyder posted.
“I am deeply proud of my husband,” she said. “He is a hero. A true hero, and his son will grow up knowing that.”
Keeping a father’s memory alive can’t possibly be easy for a boy as young as Malachi. Honoring his memory is a responsibility that falls on all of us.