“We deal with sick people all day long with detached efficiency, but when it’s one of us, the reality of our vulnerability hits home. This job has a way of making us feel invincible, untouched by the sickness and suffering that surround us daily. It seems inconceivable that one of our own may have succumbed. . .” —Lt. Michael Morse, Rescuing Providence
In the past year I’ve lost two friends to job-related BULLSHIT. Last December I lost a friend, brother FOOL, and good Jake by his own hand. We don’t know what drove him over the edge, and we didn’t see it coming in time to do anything about it.
Earlier in the year another friend and all around good guy succumbed to cancer. Again, it wasn’t caught in time.
We do what we can. I try to pay more attention to the mental health signs of those around me. I push more to make sure we mitigate the stresses of the job as best we can. We are more aware of the cancer risks of firefighting, and we take stronger measures to mitigate them than ever before.
It’s too little, too late for my friends.
I’ve buried my share of retired firefighters; men who lived their lives ahead of mine. In recent years I’ve begun to bury contemporaries. I used to love the sound of bagpipes, but lately I’ve felt that I could happily go the rest of my life without ever hearing Amazing Grace again. I’m done.
Today I had occasion to be on top of Mount Washington, and I experienced this: (turn up your speakers)
A beautiful July afternoon on the roof of New England, and four random men nearly brought me to tears. The pain came flooding back, and I stiffened to attention as I crumbled inside.
But I rebounded. Beautiful song, beautiful place, beautiful day, with my family by my side. This experience may never dull for me, but I will go on. Thank you, gentlemen, whoever you are. I needed that, and I will be OK.
Clean your gear! Wash those coats and hoods. ‘Salty’ gear isn’t cool anymore.
If you need help, ask for it. Reach out to someone, anyone. This job will eat your soul if you let it.
(Standard Disclaimers apply)