one twenty-three.

Well worn. Well loved. A symbol of a lifelong commitment.

Friday night the city of Chicago lost one of its firefighters (a Captain, to be exact). I heard about it on Facebook before I watched the news. A few of my grammar school friends are on the department and they usually post updates way before the general media. And while I’m always saddened to hear such news, my reaction to it may surprise you.

I am married to a career firefighter. Despite a family tree devoid of any fire service experience, my husband has known since he was four years old that he wanted to a fireman. He’s got a four-year degree as well as a masters in Public Administration. He’s a captain on one of the seventh largest departments in the state of Illinois and he works his ass off. It’s a job that drives him crazy, keeps him busy, makes him feel alive and like he’s contributing and he wouldn’t trade most minutes of it, for anything.

I think there’s a prevailing thought that women married to public servants, like firefighters and policemen, live in fear of “the call”. Truth is, I don’t much think about it at all ( I suppose I shouldn’t anyway – living in a constant state of dread or fear isn’t much about living at all). I know that my husband is smart, doing something he loves and doing everything he can do to stay safe. He stays up on latest training techniques (and mandates his crew practice them). He does almost anything he can think of to prevent accidents and make sure he and his crew are as prepared as possible for any situation. If he is going to come into harm’s way, he’s going to do whatever he can to have anticipated it, if not have avoided it in the first place. If it comes down to a :30 flashover, I pray that all of that work and attention will pay off, and if it doesn’t, there’s not one damn thing he (or me, or anyone else for that matter) can do about it. I don’t worry, because I have no control and frankly, there’s no upside to it.

Firefighting is a dangerous job. It is one practiced by committed men and women who enjoy the thrill of the call, the hunt of the chase and the sense of accomplishment in triumph over defeat. While the recent death of the CFD Captain makes me desperately sad for those he left behind, I appreciate the fact he died doing something so utterly and completely meaningful to him. If it was truly his time to answer that final call, so be it doing something that he cherished. Godspeed, Captain Johnson.


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