Although I cried again today just reading through my previous note, today I’m not feeling like I did when I wrote that. The weeks following the incident that started me in this crazy spiral of emotions had me feeling something different than what I feel today. For the past three days, I’ve felt a disconnect from reality, like I’m not part of what’s going on around me. I’ve had a rage filling up inside me. A rage I cannot explain. An anger that I’m finding it difficult to control. A frustration that is consuming me. I cannot get the images of that day out of my mind. But my anger is unexplainable. It’s as though I’m mad at the world…for what I don’t know. Mad at you…for something you didn’t do. Mad at myself…for feeling this way in the first place. I cannot explain why this incident is affecting me the way it is…and that angers me. It’s not the first time I’ve dealt with death on the job. I’ve held a lifeless child in my hands and not been affected like this. I’ve performed CPR on dozens of people who didn’t make it and not been affected by this. I’ve extricated people from cars who were mangled and without life and not been affected like this. Why this one? Why now? Why?

It’s only two days after the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and I’m angry at myself because what I am going through pales in comparison to what the responders and victims went through on 9/11. What I’m dealing with is not even on the same hemisphere as their pain and loss. How selfish of me to allow this incident to affect me like this. I had a good conversation with a pastor friend who reminded me that this is my own personal battle, that I have no right to try to compare it to what others face…because this is hitting me right here and right now in my world. Each person has to deal with their own, and comparing ours to theirs is not fair to us.

Yeah, okay…which hits home with me that I know all the typical answers. Logically, I know I’m going through a post-traumatic stress, triggered by this event. I know what stage I’m in. I knew what stage I was in when I wrote the above note immediately afterward. I know what stages lie ahead for me. I knew I was affected the moment I came out of the stupid hole. I knew when I sought guidance from my pastor the following day. I knew when I shared my burden with your mom. I know where I am in the progression of what I’m dealing with. What I don’t know is where to go from here. How do I carry this burden? How do I move on with my life? How do I walk through this? What good does God have in store for this? How do I get past this anger and rage to a place where I don’t feel like throwing my hammer through the wall of the house again?

I ain’t gonna lie here, child. I’m having a hard time with this. If I had known about days like today…months like this…when I signed up for this I can’t say with certainty I would have still done it. I can’t imagine pushing papers somewhere, or working a 9-5 desk job…or making widgets in a factory all night. I love what I do, and I’d go back in that cursed hole again tomorrow if someone down there needed me. I just don’t know how to get through this. I want to, and it angers me that I can’t…because I don’t want this to affect you. All I know to do is pray.

I pray that God would either lift this burden from me, or strengthen me to carry it. I pray that He guide me through this and help me move past this season. I pray that God’s will would be done through this and through my life. I pray that you don’t remember this season when you’re older. I pray this season is short. I pray that there are no more seasons like this on the horizon. I pray that if you do remember, you can forgive me for putting you through this with me…you’re the innocent victims in this…I had a choice, you did not. I pray that my words can be an encouragement to someone else…if the purpose of my burden is to help someone, then may He help me to carry and to share it. Just writing this has helped me some. I pray that when you face something similar in your own life that you struggle with (and you will), you would find some encouragement in knowing you’re not alone. Because it can feel like you’re alone. I feel isolated and alone in this. I know I’m not, but knowing that doesn’t change how I feel.

I’m looking for encouragement in the Word, and I’m moved to tears every time I listen to “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. Tears of my own personal redemption. Tears of my scar being reformed. Tears of pain. Tears of hope. A hope that is only found in God.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:22-23

I will continue to place my faith and hope in the Lord, for I know He is faithful to see me through. I will press on, forging my way through this. And I’ll pray. Because it’s all I know to do.

Love,

Dad

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