There we were standing in a sea of family, friends and co workers along with community supporters there to say their final goodbyes on a cold rainy afternoon. The gloom in the sky portrayed the feelings in all of our heavy hearts. It had only been days since the news broke. A helicopter missing from the line of duty. How does a rescue helicopter even go missing? All of our questions are still unanswered. I look over to my right where my Fireman stands in his Class A uniform paying his last respects and I can only think about "her."
Flash back to a few days prior when my heart sank at the text message that my husband read aloud to me. The EMS Helicopter was missing and my husband immediately hoped and prayed that is past co-worker and friend wasn't the medic on board. We went to bed and woke up to our Facebook feeds filled with the names released and a few details of the event. Tragedy spread across the screen like tears rolling down a child's cheek. I could see the hurt swell up in my Fireman's heart. His friend was gone.
What people don't understand is the way any first responder reacts, feels and thinks. It isn't like most people. They live a different life. They see tragedy everyday and in a different way. It is work to them and they push their feelings and emotions aside to get the job done. They are not hard hearted just brave. They immediately cope and jump in to any situation mentally ready to assist and save. They show up to do their job and move on to the next call over the radio when the tones go out. But, what happens when that call, that death, is someone they cared about? I can only imagine what they think. The what if's that start racing through their minds.What if that was me? What if my family lost me and all the other hundreds of what if's. They know what the job requires. They know the sacrifices. They know the hurt and the terror of this world. They've ran the scenario of them dying in the line of duty more than once even if they won't admit it.
Over the next few days I continued to see the hurt of the loss of a friend and shock on my fireman's face. What can you even say? What do you even do? I did the only thing I knew to do. Pray for my husband and his friend's family. I also gave my Fireman space. I didn't probe with a million questions. I let him be silent, process his thoughts, get his emotions together and I knew he would talk when he was ready.
As he processes the tragic and unexpected loss of his medic friend, I try to process my own thoughts.
My heart hurts for his family and the other loved ones of the nurse, pilot and patient involved who all tragically lost their lives in the crash that night. My mind races with what if's too. I'm not a firefighter nor a first responder but I am a Fire Wife. I am the woman behind that man who risks his life for others. I am his supporter and best friend and quite honestly I never want to be in the shoes of any first responders wife who watches her husband be beautifully lowered into the earth. I never want to have to unexpectedly say goodbye and have my heart shattered into a million pieces while trying to keep it together.
I just brutally honestly flat out never want to be any "her." All eyes will be on her from the beginning of the memorial and for months on end. They will be watching to see how she is coping. They will be watching to see if she's crying, if she's hurting, if she's numb. I never want to feel what she is feeling.I never want to see what she sees. I never want to be handed that beautifully folded flag and thanked for my husband's service. I never want to have to explain to my kids that their father is no longer going to be able to kiss them, play with them or ride bikes with them after he gets home from a 48 hour shift. That he won't be there for their first heartbreak, their first dance or seeing them walk down the aisle.
I don't want to have to answer a million questions about how I'm doing. I don't want my phone to ring all day from people who care and want to see if the children or I need anything. I don't want a meal train. I don't want gifts or nice gestures. I don't want a GoFundMe page to help me financially. I don't want to see my husband's story flooded across all of the social media platforms only to have my heart ripped out repeatedly as I scroll my own feeds. I don't want to raise our children alone. I don't want to pick out a casket or an all black outfit. Make funeral arrangements and pick out the words that will forever be etched onto his headstone. I don't want to cry tears of pain and scream out to God and question everything. I just don't. I never want to. I never want to feel that unimaginable pain. I never want to get out of my car and say a final, forever goodbye. How do you even think of the words to say when you are numb? How do you keep yourself together when all eyes are on you?
Any first responder's wife would give anything to have one more moment. One more kiss or to simply rewind time and let him call in sick that day. I will never understand fate or how God's timing works. Life is too short already and tragedy cuts it even shorter. I know far too well the danger these men and woman have to face everyday on duty. It would be stupid of me to think that all of them are invincible like all children see them as. When something like this hits far too close to home you are forced to run the scenario in your head even if you don't want to.
The wives of the fallen are strong and probably stronger than I ever could be. Strong enough to say goodbye and softly whisper I'll see you again as she kisses the casket only to feel like screaming on the inside. I don't think I could even utter anything without falling to my knees. I can't begin to even express my sadness and condolences for every spouse of a line of duty death. Just know that their men died heroes. They gave until they couldn't give anymore.
So, as the tones go out one last time and the gorgeous flag waves in the wind like a tiny dancer, I will always think about every "her." My head will always spin with the ideas of being in her shoes. I never want to be in her situation. I never want to know her pain. I SIMPLY NEVER WANT TO BE "HER."
*Please know that I am fully supportive of my fellow fire wives and first responders. I wrote this post simply out of my own feelings because we all never want or wanted to be "her." I will also never be able to know what losing my spouse feels like. I never intend to offend. I am just bringing awareness to what the Fire Wife life and reality is about. All we can do is rally together because no one understands what we go through except each other.
Teryn Yancey is a Central California mother of three, Fire wife and Editor in Chief at VintageRomanceStyle.com. She has a passion for helping hurting children, the homeless and women's self worth. "Let's celebrate every moment of life whether it be failing or winning. Life isn't perfect but we can still be happy if we choose to be." You can find her on Twitter @TerynAshley or her blog Vintage Romance Style.
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