Imagine seeing a fire. My instinct is to run as fast as I can away from it (i’m brave like that). But for some people, they gear up and dive in like an olympic athlete plunging into a pool for a score. I think they’re crazy, that I share no DNA with these people, that maybe we even come from different planets or galaxies, but hell to the yes, am I ever grateful these men and women exist.
Today my gratitude goes to the men who fought a nine alarm fire on Beacon Street yesterday, a block from where I used to live. The insane bravery and complete unselfishness that it takes to be a fireman is alien to me (not that I am not a giver, but I just don’t consider giving my life, when I give). Two men, Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy were both killed just doing their jobs. Eighteen people were injured. This is really unfathomable to me, that there are people who do this everyday, rush fiery flames to keep the rest of us safe. It’s a job description in which losing your life isn’t even in the fine print, it’s just outright on the top line.
My best friend in fourth grade, Linda’s dad was a volunteer fireman in our town. I used to like to listen to their emergency scanner. I think back on how Donald used to do exactly what those men did yesterday, when that box in their dining room used to squawk, and I can’t believe I didn’t realize I should be kissing that man’s damn feet every time I was over there.
Anyway, I remember realizing the courage and conviction of firefighters and all emergency workers during 9/11. They got my full respect in a brand new way. And since then, I’ve had two brushes with them in my own house, where each time, they ran smack right into our stupidity within minutes (once for a candle left unattended, which almost wiped up my entire closet of photos, from back when you got them developed at CVS, and another time when my husband put a rubberized pillow in the dryer, which burned out the engine of said dryer, and caused the need for a brand new washer and dryer–note to self, give explicit instructions when Peter’s doing laundry). They don’t hold back, they are there to save you and your house. To serve and protect. Plus their often hunky and sweet, as an added bonus.
I always say thanks when I can to a firefighter. I always pull over really fast when they’re zooming down the road with their sirens blaring. I always smile at them in a way that shows my deep respect when I see them on the street. My son Jake is pledging a frat right now and he talks about the “brothers,” but if you really want to see a brotherhood, it’s these guys. And today, I thank them. All of them. For yesterday and everyday.