Today, however, I am asking for your prayers, love, support, good juju, thoughts...I am asking that they be sent to a fire family so in need of them, most of us cannot even begin to understand.
Do I know the family, do I know the fire wife?
Of course I know her. She made sure the holidays were festive and full of love and joy, even if he was on shift that day.
Of course I know her. I know the words to every prayer she sent up as he left for shift and every prayer she said as he walked back in the door.
Of course I know her. I know how she held her breath when the news shared a fire or other "incident" in his area, looking for his helmet in the 12 seconds of footage shown.
Of course I know her. I know how many trips she has made to the firehouse, with the kids in tow. Trips to say hi to Daddy because he has been on shift for what seems like forever, and everyone misses him only to have the tones go off and get a quick kiss good-bye.
Of course I know her. The first day of school and trick-or-treating and ER visits with that less than graceful child, seem to fall when she is holding down the fort alone.
Of course I know her. I know how she must have held her breath when the knock on the door came, the one we all dread.
Of course I know her. I know how she mourned with the families whose firefighters will never take another call again.
Of course I know her. I know how she takes a step back when she begins to get frustrated and reminds herself to say, "Thank you" because her firefighter is still fighting his way back to her.
Of course I know her. I know how she has spent all of these years making these as normal for her kids as possible and how she continues to do that even though their home is now so far away from home and her beloved claws his way back.
Of course I know her...as intimately as every other fire wife...even though I have never met her. We all live a fire wife's life.
There is indeed a larger family to be had when you begin life as a firefighter. This adopted family is there for times of celebration, for times of crisis and everything in between. She is indeed my sister. Jacki Dowling and Capt. Bill Dowling of HFD are fighting this fight every day, together and with their faith, department and family. He has suffered some serious complications in the last day or so. It was such an amazing day when he was strong enough to be moved to the rehab facility from the hospital, I can only imagine the disappointment in the air now that these set backs have moved him back to the hospital. Not that two steps forward and three steps back is totally without precedent as survivors of such traumatic events claw their way back, it still does not alleviate the disappointment that Capt. Dowling's loved ones are feeling. And it is because of that disappointment that they need the support of the greater fire family - the family that they will probably never meet - but still need the love and support of that family as we speak.
|Photo courtesy of John Nanninga - HEO |
Houston Fire Department Station 55
Hug those firefighters when they come in the door and say a prayer as they walk out of it.