2019- Isn’t this supposed to be my year?

2019 and life, (as it is supposed too) has moved on. In retrospect, oddly enough it seems that I am the first in our area to begin social distancing, long before it became popular due to COVID-19!

Facebook for the most part is in my rear view mirror, and I have written my Final Curtain Call on Betty’s blog. Instagram, twitter and such have been shut down as well. My life has become about something it hadn’t been for many years. About me.

A very special person has entered my life as well. This came as a shock too many, but truth be told I had been alone for a very long time. The person I started seeing our family had known for many, many years. This was a benefit for me as I never felt the need to explain anything in regards to emotions felt or struggles had during this time. Good days, she understood, bad days she understood more, and at the end of the day I had someone neutral to confide in with no judgement.

Some friends disappeared, which was fine, I valued the time we had together and understood their choice to no longer be a part of my life. Some who I thought were friends tried to ruin my reputation, which I will never understand. Things were said that blew my mind, lies were told and all the small town horror stories you hear and think could; “never happen in my town”, did.

As my friend, I have your back through thick and thin, which means I will always choose you, support you, and be there for you regardless of whether I agree with you or not. Only you can ruin that relationship. Of course other friends showed their true colors by never once wavering, having my back, standing up for me, and understanding that life is meant to be lived, not submerged in misery, ghosts of the past and constant sorrow. Believe me there was easily enough sorrow over the past several years (not including my job) to drown even the most resilient.

Nose above the water line we moved forward.

April 17th was important to me when chronologically moving forward because I guess it was the day everything began. We didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, it was the nexus or center of me finding out there are no passes given for good behavior, for surviving even the roughest of struggles, that God is never done teaching you to overcome life’s hardships.  A moment in time reminding you that you are never in control, ever! Also, a reminder that no matter what happens in your life it will always be your responsibility to handle these stressors with dignity and strength. Fact is it was quite the opposite for me, it was in fact the beginning of me no longer handling hardship well, being the one in our family that every one could rely upon. No grace, no dignity, no plan, no strength. I had been Knick named Iron man on several occasions by a few close friends and family. It was of course, for me a flattering joke.

It was the end of that persona.

It started simply enough by doing nothing more than tearing out a moldy, rotten floor from the side room off the garage.

We (My girlfriend and I) tore right in early one morning to the sagging, rotting floor of my old fishing room. After ripping out the first floor board we realized we needed to begin digging deeper, for every single board from that point on showed us that more of the floor needed to go. By the end of the morning we had ripped out 80% of the floor complete with all the floor joists. It wasn’t looking good at all. This project that appeared simple and more repair like than complete overhaul was rapidly showing us the building was filled with deep, black, moldy rot. Once all the dirt and dust settled we stared at it for a bit and decided to call it a day.

2 days later I began to cough..

April 20th, 2019

A few minutes before getting off work we break a structure fire. Rolling out of the apparatus bay it is quickly evident by the large column of black smoke coming from the general area dispatched we had in fact a “worker”. Two minutes later we are turning a corner and staring right at the building. It’s rolling. Heavy black smoke pouring from the eves, roof, the windows to the rear of the structure and everything in between. We are going to work.

My crew and I force entry to the front door, we break right and begin a search of the building as cars are parked out front and no one has seen the landowner. Quickly through our search and with a thermal imager we realize this house is under renovation. We still complete our search to be thorough and begin pulling ceiling to determine where the fire is in the attic space. The secondary line is manned at the front door and an additional attack line is battling the fire from the B/C side of the structure. Between them knocking down the fire, taking away the heat and us locating/extinguishing fire in an attic space the red devil is once again smothered. Fire kept to the structure, no impingement of neighbor’s homes, no loss of life, another great job by our amazing crews.  

Coming out of the structure for our first bottle change we are all feeling really good.

Realizing the kids were expecting me home, I turn over my area of responsibility to an auto-aid crew from a neighboring city. My crew and I are in rehab and stripped down to cool down. I grab a water and walk over to the engine retrieving my phone so I can let the kids know I am ok and just running a little late.

Turning my phone on, the screen has blown up with over 10 missed calls and four or five texts! My 14 year old son has sent them all.  Staring at the screen I am thinking to myself, holy shit kid it’s not the first time dad has been held over for an emergency, what the hell!

My opinion quickly changes upon opening the first text. Walking across the street to a bench and away from where anyone can see me. I begin to cry. Life has punched me in the gut once again.