Tagged: brotherhood

The fog of life

Slightly less than a year ago, I departed for my first shift of 2011 through thick fog. It broke dramatically that morning, signifying hope and promise.  
 
If I try to be objective it was a decent year. 362 days later I’m still working a good job with a good employer, my family and I are healthy, and our finances are in better shape than they were a year ago. Second grade is going fabulously!  

 
Emotionally it’s been rough though. Mrs. Mack505 suffered the loss of two family members. My Public Safety family has been rocked with multiple losses, both on duty and off.  
 
I was not there personally, but I was on duty and listened live as a firefighter lost his life. I’ve held my breath with each subsequent radio transmission and felt the ice in my gut as it became apparent what was happening. I’ve looked into the eyes of the crew who worked to save him, and of the good friend he relieved at shift change that morning. I can happily go the rest of my life without ever repeating that experience, thank you. 
 
The fog returned this morning, bookending the year in gray. Goodbye, 2011. It’s a new day tomorrow, and I’m on duty at the best job in the world. 
 
Stay tuned.

Make it stop!

Sunday night we were in a Christmas mood at work.  We dug the tree out of storage, hung the lights, and took a few embarrassing photos for Facebook.  Then we started to notice the updates.
 
A Fallon ambulance was struck head-on on the other side of our metropolitan area.  We followed live on FB, Twitter, and the Internet radio stream as the events unfolded.  I listened as the crew was airlifted to Big City hospitals.
 
Overnight a NH State Trooper crashed his cruiser and was seriously injured along with his K9.  I saw the crash site in my travels before I knew what happened.
 
Monday morning, a police sergeant in one of our cities was struck on the highway.  He was seriously injured but is recovering in Big City Trauma Center.
 
Wednesday night, a Worcester firefighter was killed in the collapse of a burning three-decker.  John Davies, a 17 year veteran, was searching for a missing civilian when he and his partner were trapped.  His partner survived.
 
Services are next Thursday.
 
This evening I learned that FF Sarah Fox of Portsmouth, NH, lost her hard-fought battle with cancer this week.  I’m not feeling much holiday spirit right now.
 
Tomorrow is a new day. . .

The mystery bagpiper

I pulled up in front of the church to find the hearse and limo already out front.

This was not good. It had been a long overnight shift, but I’d had enough time to change and make it to the church. Or so I thought. Still, I couldn’t miss it. My partner’s father had died, and taking care of our own includes supporting them in their grief.

I parked on a side street and snuck into the back of the mammoth church. The funeral appeared to be winding down. Could I really be that late? I didn’t recognize anyone, but I don’t know any of my partner’s family beyond his wife. That might be them way up in the front pew.

The priest droned on. I’m not familiar with Catholic funerals, but the ending is always the same. After a few prayers and blessings, he addressed the assembled mourners directly, thanking us for celebrating the life of our “beloved father, brother, uncle, and friend Gino.”

Gino?!! I couldn’t remember Partner’s father’s name, but he’s as Irish as they come. Gino O’Shea?!

Uh-oh.

As the mourners filed out, I thought I was beginning to see what had happened. I kept my countenance somber, shook hands, and offered my condolences for their loss. And I got out as quickly as I could.

Outside, I wasn’t the only one confused. Another friend stood across the busy street in his kilt, prepared to pipe the body out of the church. A quick series of hand signals averted more embarassment.

I finally made it across the street to join him just as the hearse departed. Less than five minutes later, the right hearse arrived and we began the process all over again.

Rest in peace, Gino, whoever you are.