It's been almost a year to the day that St. Louis County police officer Blake Snyder died in the line of duty.
He was shot point blank, murdered as he responded to a call in the early morning hours of October 6 in Green Park, near Affton.
His funeral was watched by thousands of people. His widow was seen beside herself with grief in the cemetery.
Ever since. Elizabeth Snyder, she's not yet been able to go back.
“It’s going to be a reminder and I realize other people are different,” Snyder said. “everyone sees it differently, I know Blake's parents go all the time and it's a healing thing. For me, it would be like a thorn. One day, I will have to pluck the thorn out and go, but I am not ready, I am not ready,” she said.
Blake, her best friend is with her every day, his wedding ring finger around her finger now.
Some days harder than others.
Focusing on son Malachi, who she calls her joy, helps.
Just last week marked his third birthday, the first without his dad.
“He doesn't so much ask ‘where is daddy anymore,’ because I have so instilled in him, ‘daddy is in heaven with Jesus,’ that's what I say, “ Elizabeth said. “And whenever we see his picture somewhere he will say, ‘that's mommy, that's daddy. Daddy is in heaven with Jesus.’ That's what he is saying more often now. He doesn't say, ‘where is daddy?’ because he knows where he is. And it's not as hard as it was in the beginning.”
There’s been some healing for them, a new home, for example.
“I couldn’t do it, I couldn't go and sleep in our bed, so yeah, I had to move,” she said. “That's been really good, and it’s been really good for us. Starting over new, starting something different has been really good.”
She said the support has been good too. There have been a number of dedications in Blake’s memory ever since. They’ve been opportunities to share his story with others.
“Support has been overflowing from strangers,” Elizabeth said. “I will always be so blessed that this community has rallied around us at this time and they still do.”
But she's faced some criticism also, mostly for speaking her mind on social media. She often advocates for law enforcement, most recently in response to protests over the Jason Stockley verdict.
“They put that riot gear on so they can go home to their families at night. My husband had armor on that night. He had armor on that night and that didn't save his life. So if they can wear armor to save their lives, go for it. I am all for them getting every kind of protection they can get on them,” she said.
Her hope is only to help.
“We can work on trying to listen to each other's sides, them listening to cops, cops listening to them. Maybe one day it will change and if I can help, I will,” she said.
And maybe, one day down the road, there will be a chance to love again.
“I hope to love again, I will say, I hope to be happy in that way again because I am so young and because Malachi is so young,” Elizabeth said. “I hope he will have a father-figure in his life. No one will ever, ever replace Blake in his life, in that spot. But there is always room in our heart for more. And I hope he and I can both have that again one day when we are ready,” she said.
One year after his death, Blake is a representation, she says, of the best of law enforcement. And of us.
Though he's gone, he’s a lasting symbol of kindness, love and ultimate sacrifice.
“I have a feeling he won't be forgotten ever, and I won't ever let that happen.”
On the one-year mark, Friday, Elizabeth says she's just going to spend time with family.
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