”It’s around the corner. Just turn left at the next street.”
Those were the last words I spoke to him. I continued to walk the sidewalk and when I reached the next corner I looked back to be sure he understood. It was then that I saw the back of his shirt and it read Fire Department.
How did I not notice the tired eyes in the moment we spoke? I didn’t see the expression which showed me his sadness when he stood directly in front of me. And most certainly, when he stood there alone, so early in the morning, and asked if there were a place he could just get something to eat I didn’t even think to ask him if he would allow me to please buy him a decent, hot breakfast.
He turned the corner and was gone. A tear fell as I realized that he, along with countless other brave souls, was responsible for saving so many lives this week. So many people I know and love have lives who have been turned upside down because our beautiful land has been ripped to shreds by fires. And these brave men and women who have been fighting those fires have given so much heart so that the rest of us could be safe.
I walked back by the diner that I had pointed him to, entirely too long after. He was gone. I hope some other person saw him and offered to buy him that breakfast that I neglected to offer.
My gratitude for the safety of me and my children this week is hard to even articulate. I, along with countless others, have existed in a smoky haze of uncertainty this week. There is one thing I do know. I will open my eyes wide and observe life more clearly, as if I were looking through a camera lens for any detail that I could capture.
Thank you, my tired Fireman friend, for forgiving my distracted state. Thank you, my heroic Fireman friend, for the service you have given. My heart is with you and yours.