I caved. If it feels like I’m beating a horse here, be glad you aren’t inside my head… there’s a whole pasture there. 19 is a big number and it’s going to take a while. I was in all intentions avoiding the memorial service for the 19 Hot Shots of Arizona. I caved and tuned in. I did not regret it.
I’m glad I watched it and I want to tell you why. I felt deep sadness. I cried, out loud, while clutching my face. I cried silently and just wiped the tears. I smiled, proudly. I sighed with relief. It wasn’t about death, but celebrating 19 beautiful lives. I’m glad that from little Podunk, Georgia, I could join them all in celebrating their lives and witnessing their last alarm. The last ringing of that bell was really hard. I’m sure it would have been hard to control my emotions had I been there and heard it in person, nothing compares to in person.
Fire Strong families. Blood and fire. I pray that I should find that strength if I ever found myself in their position, but if I do… I pray that I can be as strong as they have had to be. May God bless them and watch over them through what is and will be the hardest time of their lives. Especially those children. May they grow up and be proud…always reminded that their fathers died, so honorably that there is no room for sadness, only pride.
I also realized that thousands of people were in that room. Thousands more outside. Millions more across the face of the Earth were following along via technology. We were all there, no matter how far away. Side by side despite the many miles. It was a strange comfort. To be honest, before I watched this memorial today, I had not watched one. I had never been to a firefighter’s funeral. I just didn’t think I could take watching… but I had to. I felt like it was my duty to, like I should watch and support them in what way I can.
My view on these types of memorials shifted.
Before, I was angry at the thought of having to face that. Selfish, maybe that is a better word. I suppose that is normal and I wonder if any of them felt that way. Having to share the most tragic and final moments of their lives, with the world. Having to be in the eye of the public. Some people have expected too much be made public but I did come to the realization that these moments have to be shared with the public. With the other firefighters around the world. With widows who have faced this and women who don’t know they’re going to fall in love with a fireman. With children of firefighters. Parents. Large cities and small towns. We’re all in this together. I would assume each family were able to have intimate memorials of their own, privately but facing the world in such a sensitive time of grief requires strength that you must have to reach deep down inside for. I think that given I were allowed my own private way of saying goodbye to the love of my life, I could share a moment with the world. To honor and respect his service and sacrifice. To allow other people to be there for me, in such an awful time. For others to keep me positive that I will have all of the support I need, should I want it and to know that many, many people are praying. I also liked the fact that not once did I see any actual wives, children, family… They need and deserve privacy. I’m sure it has been a rough 9 days.
The memorial was so graceful and loving. 19 handsome faces staring out from an American Flag, beautiful. The speakers, pouring their lives out for us all to share. The Drums and Pipes, which was the first I had experienced, wonderful. The whole thing was amazingly perfect, given the circumstances, it could only have been perfect had it never happened.
Tomorrow is the back half of the regular 48 on around here. I miss him and want to hold him. I’ve arranged a just US date for his 24 off. We need it, badly.
Praying tonight for the women who lost their loves and their children, living and yet to be born. Let those you love know you love them.