I originally wrote this on March 30, 2013. But today my heart hurts and tears stream down my face because, quite simply, I miss my Dad. What would have been his 56th birthday is just 4 days away. It remains unedited.
You know how certain things can trigger a memory? A sight, a smell, or a sound and BAM! you’re instantly back in that moment and no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop it from happening. Today it was a combination of a sight and a sound…
As I drove toward the next of many stores on my errands list I heard the ever familiar sound of sirens and saw the paramedics coming my way, fighting oncoming traffic. I did my best to pull over and silently yelled at those who weren’t doing the same. Then I caught a glimpse of the driver. It was him, one of the medics that responded the night my dad passed away. Instantly I was taken back to my dad’s front yard, that medic was standing there, unsure of how to help this young girl hysterically crying, waiting for the arrival of anyone familiar to comfort her. I remember the solemn look on his face as he stood in silence with the other firefighters, maybe he wanted to offer a hug but knew it wasn’t professional, maybe he thought about one day losing his parents, or of the dozens of calls he had gone on with the same sad ending. Instead he offered me a chair, afraid I was about to collapse. I didn’t sit, I just stood, tears streaming down my face, at a complete loss for words, begging some friend or family member to arrive to console me. When I didn’t sit he took a small step closer but didn’t say anything. A few of the guys stood off to the side, whispering; one of them said he’d known my dad. The minutes ticked by, only a few, until finally my sister and her husband arrived. My brother-in-law was the first person I called after hanging up with dispatch–I had told him he needed to come quickly because Dad was not responsive and the fire department was on their way. Within a minute I had to call him back to say Dad was gone . The crew stayed a couple minutes longer, gave their report to the sheriff deputies that had arrived, said their condolences and left.
I had always intended on visiting that fire crew’s station to say thank you for being there that night, for being a welcome sight when my world was crashing down, and for being so kind when they told me it was too late, that my dad had been “down” (their lingo) for at least a few hours. But I never did. Maybe a part of me knew that I’d cry like I did today, that it would just be too hard to see them and offer words of gratitude for being there that night. What’s funny is I’m not sure if I could pick out any other fire fighter that came that night, but today, seeing that medic in uniform, driving his truck with lights and sirens on, I knew without a doubt who he was and what he’d done. And I was instantly taken back to the night that forever changed my definition of normal.
Do you have any sights, sounds or smells that instantly take you back?
I saw that same medic on Sunday. I froze, took a few deep breaths, and thankfully, with God’s grace plus the perfect not-yet-spring air, sounds of a softball game, and the comfort of my best friend sitting next to me, I made it through the moment.