I've spent 30 years firefighting and responding to emergency calls of every type. From the horror of mass casualty incidents to the beauty of delivering babies. Night and day. Weekends, weekdays, holidays, birthdays...
From structure fires and overturned motor vehicle crashes to saving lives found in cardiac arrest that made it to live many more years, to those who we couldn't save from children who fell through the ice to those who lived so many senior years but still will be badly missed.
Earning each tier and level of certification to protect and guide other firefighters from Incident Command top tier to Instructor Level 2 the more I loved firefighting, the more I learned from experiences big and small, easy and complicated the more I needed to share it with the Brotherhood. To keep us all safe. I trained and drilled then I trained and drilled with others.
On that day 9/11/01 I was just miles away looking up at a beautiful blue sky just minutes before almost 3,000 innocent people were murdered by terrorists and then I heard. My phones were ringing, my children were terrified what was happening, where was their Dad, where should they go. Everything closed up as the 2nd plane, the 3rd plane, the 4th plane attacked and murdered... Offices closed, schools closed, businesses closed, most people like my children were told "go home". Except for police, firefighters and EMS. For us it had just begun. For 343 firefighters it was over forever. Life and training and situational awareness changed for us after that. But the horror of that day changed us even more.
I started my personalized design business as a way to express myself, to earn some extra money since a second job would hurt my volunteer firefighter daytime crews without me - and it grew and flourished as Bonfire Designs Never much of a sleeper it was no problem responding all hours of the day and night, working a full time job, volunteering, raising my girls and training, training, training.
Dedicated for life. Absolutely. Firefighters Are Always Firefighters. But it was time to turn it over. Find a new place, a new time, begin a new future. Always the same me.
Today I am 1200 miles from there and the blazing heat is here in the tropical sun. The water I thrive on is the oceans, rivers and my pool. My online graphic design business is thriving and brings personalized gifts of life to everyone. But retired relaxed and non-stressful is really not me. I love the adventures of going to the beach. Fishing on the shore with the family and even landing some decent fish now and then. I'm a shelling addict collecting seashells and learning about sea life. Climbing over men-of-war and terrified of attracting a shark when I'm in ocean deep.
I thrive on what I love about my new adventure chapter in life, but I don't know these dangers. Crawling through fire, ripping apart mangled cars that I know. Sharks and gators, jellyfish, snakes and pop up lightning storms on the beach. Are you crazy? Yeah a little bit I am. After all I am a firefighter. Still and always.