I have to start this note with an apology. To my dear children and my wife, I’m so sorry. You didn’t get a choice in who your dad is. I wasn’t a firefighter when I met and married your mom, and I’m not sure I even mentioned it was a dream job of mine before she married me. I chose this career after we married, and I was doing it before you were born. You, my dear children, were born into this. If I’d have known then what I know today…known how I would feel today, right at this moment…I can’t say with certainty I would have still chosen this life path. No one told me when I started my career that there would be days like today…weeks like the past three weeks. I did not have enough foreknowledge to know that this job would be so mentally and emotionally taxing on me…and I did not have the forethought to see how it would affect you, my precious children. I was not able to predict that you would be the collateral damage for the choice I had made. For that, I am sorry. For who I’ve been these past three weeks, I am sorry. For the person I’ve morphed into the past three days, I am sorry. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. And I feel powerless to change it.
I haven’t written much since the day this all started for me. I think part of that is because I wrote something that I haven’t shared yet. I sat down three days after that event and wrote what was on my heart and mind. It was raw. It was real. It was what I felt that day. And it scared the living hell out of me when I went back and read it. I chose not to share it at the time because it frightened me…and I knew it would alarm others. I wasn’t ready to share this scar with anyone who didn’t already know how badly I was suffering. It was just too personal to allow others to know my frame of mind. Today, though, I’m feeling something different. Unfortunately, something much worse. So in an effort to move through this pain, I’m doing what I know how to do. I’m writing. I’m uncovering my scar, and I’m sharing what I wrote three days after the call:
August 31, 2012:
My ears have heard the cries of immense pain. My nose has smelled death. My eyes have seen the unthinkable. My hands have done work that was difficult, but necessary. My lips have tasted the sweat and blood of the burdens I carry.
Daily, I walk through this life with the scars of the emotional and psychological pain I carry. A pain so deep, it threatens to suck me into the depths of my own personal hell. The burden of daily facing the memories I try to keep buried deep within the recesses of my subconscious is more heavy than I can bear alone. When I close my eyes, I see it. When someone says something totally random and unrelated, I see it. When I smell something that is similar to a smell I encountered that day, I see it. And when I see it, I’m right there again…reliving it all over again. I cannot put it out of my mind. I cannot seem to forgive myself for what I had to do to get the job done. I cannot seem to forgive myself for letting this bother me, other incidents have not. I pray that God would take this burden from me…and yet I know that it may be in His plan for me to carry this burden for the rest of my life. I pray it’s not, because at times it seems more than I can hold. If it is His will that I shoulder a burden so heavy, I pray He strengthen me for the task of doing so…because I am weak. Too weak to shoulder it alone.
I’ve cried more in the past three days than I have in the last three years. At the most odd times and in the most odd places, for no apparent reason…just that it’s so much of a burden that my heart is overloaded, and the outpouring of my pain cannot be contained. The rest of the day, I feel like a zombie…like I’m catatonic and not able to move. Honestly, if I could crawl back in bed and just fall into a deep sleep, I would. It seems the only way I can imagine living without constantly facing the memory. And yet each time I close my eyes, I’m right there back in that hole…back in the moment…reliving it all over again. I long for a day when this feeling goes away. I long to find joy in life again. I yearn for a time when I can smile again…and genuinely mean it…to feel the smile within my soul, not just on my lips.
God led me to this passage today, and I believe He did so for a reason. I find my encouragement for today, my “Daily Bread” in the words He’s given me today:
“I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love because You have seen my affliction. You have known the troubles of my life and have not handed me over to the enemy. You have set my feet in a spacious place. Be gracious to me, Lord, because I am in distress; my eyes are worn out from angry sorrow – my whole being as well. Indeed, my life is consumed with grief and my years with groaning; my strength has failed because of my sinfulness, and my bones waste away.” – Psalm 31:7-10
And I find encouragement in what the Psalmist says later: “But I trust in You, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ The course of my life is in Your power; deliver me from the power of my enemies and from my persecutors. Show favor to your servant; save me by Your faithful love.” – Pslam 31:14-16
I need your favor Lord. Please save be by your faithful love. Please either lift this burden from me or strengthen me to carry it. Amen.
There you go…my scar uncovered and vulnerable. That was then. Today is much different. You can read where I am in dealing with this scar here.