The very public viewings and funerals for Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey and Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon last week carried many of us through the first phase of grieving – shock and denial.
The murders of those two deputies – described by many, many people as heroes – shocked our Harford County community in ways it's never been so jarred.
Out of our grasping for ways to do something, anything, to offer not only our condolences, but also our support to the families, friends and law enforcement community, there was an outpouring that gave some comfort to the grieving.
For those touched directly by the loss of the two men, the recovery process and the return to what will be their new normal will undoubtedly take more than last week's public displays.
There are many depressing and painful days ahead for them as they struggle through the next stages of grief.
For the rest of us, a return to normal won't be as problematic, but it will still be rather difficult nonetheless. If we have family or friends in law enforcement, we will have an even greater anxiety about their well-being when they head off to work. But we will also be more fearful for our children and other young people as they head off to their part-time jobs at places just like Panera Bread where Senior Deputy Dailey was shot and killed.
The tragic scenes that unfolded shortly before noon on Feb. 10 shouldn't be seen by anyone, ever. But they were and they made the violence of movies, television and video games become too real for those just trying to have a pleasant lunch break at Panera or some of the other nearby eateries.
As we've said before on this page, the shootings inside Panera Bread and about a block way from the eatery changed our lives forever.
While it's been many a year since Harford County was like the fictional Mayberry of "The Andy Griffith Show" on TV, there were still plenty of times when we let ourselves believe that our community was just that kind of a simple, down-home kind of place. That naive view includes us believing we have a certain kind of immunity to the violence that's happened in too many other places in our country with too much regularity.
Now that we've been jolted out of our dated, false sense of security, the next question is always the same: What's next?
That will be left for time to answer. As we face the challenges of the coming days and weeks, please try to follow the advice of Jennifer Logsdon as she thanked the community for its support in the aftermath of the murder of her husband: "Love each other, laugh with each other and always remember to cherish every moment, as if it could be your last."