There's no replacing your dad.
So everyone who knows the family of the late Wayzata police officer Bill Mathews feels compassion for 7-year-old Wyatt Mathews.
Hundreds of uniformed law enforcement officers attended the funeral service for Wyatt's father on Thursday and squad cars from across Minnesota were part of the procession to the cemetery.
But there's also an effort to make sure the support from fellow officers doesn't end there.
Wyatt can expect to be getting some mail soon, in care of the Wayzata Police Department. Envelopes addressed to him were handed out at this week's visitation for Bill Mathews. Aaron John of the Plymouth Police Department took to Facebook to encourage fellow officers to use them.
Officer John told GoMN in a message he's not usually much of a Facebook poster but felt compelled in this situation.
"Bill was a wonderful man and we owe it to him, as a brother in blue, to rally behind his family," John wrote. "They not only need support today, but down the road as well."
'Lots of people are thinking of you'
One message to Wyatt that was also posted to Facebook came from Lee Sjolander, the chief of police in the southeastern Minnesota town of Kenyon.
Sjolander tells GoMN he was motivated to write after seeing Wyatt at Thursday's funeral.
"It broke my heart to see that young boy – and his mother and the family. But to see that young boy in his suit jacket holding that rose for his dad ... it really was heart wrenching," he said.
Sjolander worked with Bill Mathews years before Wyatt was born. In his message, he shared some of his impressions of the father with the son.
"I never saw your dad lose his temper," he wrote. "I never heard him say a bad word, and his smile was awesome. He worked very hard and I knew he would do great things, like meeting your mom, and being your dad."
The chief also mentioned he has a tattoo that includes the badge numbers of "friends that I won't see for awhile." The number 7221 had been added to the tattoo in honor of Wyatt's dad, Sjolander wrote, and he ended by saying "Please remember that lots of people are thinking of you and we all miss your dad."