A few nights ago, at work, I had an account that I needed to call. My account recognition skills told me that our customer was a paid firefighter.
On a side note- paid firefighter or career firefighter is the correct terminology for someone who receives compensation for performing the job of firefighting. John used to give me a hard time if I screwed up and accidentally said professional firefighter. It was one of his pet peeves. He’d tell me that all firefighters were professionals. Volunteers are just as professional as paid firefighters. John was a volunteer first and he never forgot that. When it came to firefighting John was ALWAYS a professional.
And now back to the original discussion– Months ago, I would have loved to make the call, but now, I didn’t want to.
Months ago, I would have proudly told our customer that my husband was also a career firefighter for the City of Annapolis. I probably would have had a quick, polite chat with the customer. Now, I was afraid that mentioning that John used to be a firefighter would send me to tears. I can’t even tell you how badly I still want to be a firefighter’s wife and not a firefighter’s widow– and of course… not just any firefighter’s wife… John’s wife…
The more I thought about calling, the more emotional I got.
Finally, I dialed the number and hoped for an answering machine.
The first call got an answering machine. One down… one to go.
Come on answering machine…
No such luck.
The second call went through to the station. The man who answered the phone was very polite and when he heard my reason for calling he told me that our customer was at a different station and gave me his number.
It reminded me of a call that I’d made earlier that day to AFD and how helpful the man who answered the phone was. He told me that he used to work with John and gave me his phone number and told me that if I ever needed anything he wasn’t too far away. Then he put me in touch with somebody who could answer my questions. I’d choked up during that phone call when I was asked how Thanksgiving was. I told her that Thanksgiving was great up until the time I got Nathaniel packaged and was headed down the road and suddenly felt like something very important was missing without John in the car. I should have been in the passenger’s seat. John should have been driving. I should have had my hand rubbing his leg while we chatted about how excited the relatives would be to see Nathaniel. Instead… I was the driver… not even a passenger up front… nobody to share smiles or conversation with… I then felt so lonely that I went to the cemetery before and after dinner because I missed him so much. Brookview is such a peaceful little cemetery that it usually helps me feel better.
At the other station our customer answered the phone. He was a very nice gentleman and appreciated the call. I didn’t mention firefighting at all.
After I got off of the phone, as I sat at my desk working away, the tears came. I continued working… everybody else was working away in their cubes and my tears were silent. A friend stopped by on her way out… by then the tears had subsided, but I’m sure I still looked red eyed. She asked if I was okay.
I told her, “I’m hanging in there.”