One of our Facebook followers recently shared with us an emotional open letter to the fire service from her husband. We’re sharing with you now, from Amy and Scott Pascu. Thank you for sharing your heart and words.
We live in Ohio and our Local 330 has recently lost a few good men (and are probably about to lose one more to cancer), and not to mention the brave Cincy fighter. My husband shared this on his Facebook page and I want to share it with others. From one fire family to another. -Amy Pascu
The last few weeks have been dark for the Akron Fire Department, and it’s extended families. From losing a brother who fought a long, hard battle against cancer to losing another to unspeakable and incomprehensible circumstances.
A few days ago, we learned of a brother in Cincy who made the ultimate sacrifice to the job and the citizens he was sworn to protect. Even as I sit here opening the books for an upcoming promotional exam, I can’t seem to concentrate on memorizing the minutia that I know will be necessary to do well. Instead I sit here worrying about my brothers and sisters who may be hurting and how I can somehow help. Our sermon this morning in church pushed me toward reaching out and writing this open letter.
If you know me, you know I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I would honestly feel more comfortable kneeling on some front porch, gearing up to make entry, flames rolling over my head, than sit here writing. Not to mention writing about…. feelings. As someone who jokes about not having feelings (plural), but instead, having only one feeling at a time. Someone who boasts about how simple it is to live that way- you know that feeling can be hungry or happy, sad or angry, the feeling is always easy to identify. No confusion, I know what I am feeling. Period. You, on the other hand, do not know what I feel. Unless you are a rookie, and that feeling happens to think you could be trying harder, at that moment that feeling has a way of making things crystal clear. My wife has to guess, my family has no idea, I like it that way. Why?
Because it is not fair to ask those who do not do what we do to be exposed
to the grief and tragedy we see.
Now, as I attend the funeral, called to stand on the stage with some of my closest brothers, in front of close friends, family, the pastor and folks who don’t know me at all, this rush of emotion, these feelingS (plural) rushed over me. Looking out at the teary eyed friends and family of our fallen brother, listening to the heroic accounts of Doug’s acts before the cancer took him from us, it hit me.
Well, THIS is new! My one little feeling picked a heckuva time to spread it’s wings. Many in the crowd were not firefighters or families of firefighters, so a brief explanation of what we do and how good he was at the job was offered. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t swallow. I dare not try to speak. My eyes started to leak this unknown watery substance. I tried hard to dial it in, but didn’t feel like I was fooling anyone. I was not prepared for the eyes peering up from around the room. In the back stood my extended family of firefighters, in the crowd were a mix of his family, his wife, my wife, everyone from his life. My eyes locked on my wife’s saddening face as a stat was thrown out that I wasn’t even aware of. You see, those of us on stage worked together almost exclusively for 8-10 years. The stat – over our time together we had 17 fatalities. Fatalities from house fires, not counting car wrecks, heart attacks, industrial accidents, etc. My wife had no idea, she always asked, but she never pried.
The stat – over our time together we had 17 fatalities.
Fatalities from house fires, not counting car wrecks, heart attacks, industrial accidents, etc. My wife had no idea, she always asked, but she never pried and I seldom volunteered the information. Her big brown eyes seemed to understand our bond as did many from the group looking on.
The reason for such a long backdrop is this: Not one time did I ever see these Fire Officers waver. Not once did I ever see hesitation or doubt in their eye- NEVER, no matter what. Not on the radio not as we carried out victims, no matter how awful or dynamic the circumstances. These were the men that showed us how we were to conduct ourselves on the job. Now, faced with speaking at the funeral of our fallen brother, these men of steel weren’t sure. They had red eyes, their shoulders looked like they were yoked with a thousand pounds. They looked how I felt, human. You see out of all the scenarios and situations we lived through on my 20 years and counting on the job, we share a commonality. This group NEVER walked away feeling like we could have done more. We gave absolutely everything we had every single time. It is easy to sleep at night when you conduct business this way. The thing we didn’t do was show emotion. It was hard for me to see how difficult it was for these men to speak to those in attendance. Their voices and hands shaking. A Chief and a Lt whom I have personally witnessed do things that anyone easily would be able to justify NOT doing for people they would never meet. Then a lightbulb went off- we are ALL hurting.
We ALL feel. Hmmmmm…We all feel.
Writing a letter hardly seems like putting yourself out there compared to what was sacrificed by Him (see John 3:16) to give us everlasting life, but I felt compelled today to share. If you are hurting, please get some help. If you don’t have anyone to call, call me- you are not alone.
Help for Handling a Crisis
There are many (but not enough!) resources out there to help you and your family through these challenges. HERE are a few we suggest.
For some more reading
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