Barefooted … for now

I’ve been attempting another (this) post for several days now. I’ve written several and sent em to the recycle bin instead of posting. I didn’t want to seem (or come across) as angry and I felt like they did. So, like everything else here lately, I’ll try it again. My emotions lately are across the board.

Despite the overwhelming support I received following my last post (“A Firefighter’s Boots”), I was NOT able to return to duty and put mine (my boots) back on. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to … I DID … more than anything, and you folks were a HUGE part of the reason why.

The comments, e-mails, Face Book messages and phone calls were all nothing short of amazing! Then a good friend and brother Firefighter, Nate Camfiord; posted a picture of some bunker boots with a simple message … “for a friend”. Talk about “Honor”, “Pride” and “Respect” … Nate reeks of it.

He (Nate) then called Rhett and told him what he had posted and why. The two got their heads together and the next thing you know, hundreds of pictures of “Firefighter’s boots” were being posted and sent in! They came from EVERYWHERE…. it was an AWESOME display of support! I was humbled and brought to tears.

Some of the pictures had messages attached. Each touched me. Some were heart breaking yet healing at the same time. All were emotional, heart felt, honest and motivational. They all said, in one way or another; for me to put my boots back on and that each of you were not only willing to, but “THERE” to help me with the “fit”.

I had no idea! I knew the Brotherhood existed, I just didn’t know it did to this extent. I also figured out that all of you were grieving “for” and “with” me as well. I know that you all felt my pain…. I had hoped to spare ya from it. That was selfish of me.

I later learned that part of the healing process needed to be a sharing of that pain and grief and, that I have a huge family to do that with. We all do the same thing … we help others, even at our own sacrifice. You wanted to help me. To be beside me. To comfort me and share in my grief.  My being there would allow us all to move forward … to begin the healing process.

I wanted back in those boots this past Sunday. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but I was going to put them on. I wanted back in them for me and for you. I needed it…. we all did.

Obviously, it didn’t happen. I did however get by the station (and Station #5) for a visit that morning … I was glad I did. The circumstances surrounding why I didn’t work were beyond my control and I hope you folks weren’t disappointed. I hope I didn’t let you down.

We only get a couple days “funeral leave” in our system (one of which has to be the day of Last Rites) so I’ve had to take several days of “sick leave” since Jack’s death. I’m on the “old leave plan” so it’s no big deal for me. It doesn’t affect my Vacation or Holidays, I have plenty of it and, it will renew in July. I’ve earned it.

The problem I encountered was in our S.O.P’s (Standard Operating Procedures). Since I have taken more than 3 consecutive days “sick”, I need a doctor’s note before I can return to duty. One of our Deputy Chiefs reminded me of the policy when he called to “check on me” Friday evening and it’s a good thing he did (remind me that is). Can you imagine the turmoil it would have caused if I had shown up for duty without a permission slip doctors note?

It may have actually been for the best… I may have tried to come back too fast / soon. I’ve had a difficult week (emotional wise) and think that the couple extra days off couldn’t have hurt. They helped and the Chief of Department has told me to take all the time I need. I’ll get there…. I know it. With a support group like you, how could I not?

I’ll get a doctor’s note, even if I have to get Dr. Seuss himself to write one (he is a close personal friend and the only Doctor I REALLY trust you know…lol). My plan now is to return to duty on Tuesday the 29th or Thursday the 31st. Meanwhile, I’m going to start easing my way back to normal … my “new normal” anyway.

Zach Green and my MN8 FoxFire family will be in Daytona Beach Fla this week for the 2013 Fire-Rescue East convention … I’m going with them. Actually, I’m going to meet them there. Dad will be there too. They will be in booth #720 …. stop by and say hello.

A change of scenery, getting away (even if just for a couple of days) may be just what I need. It will also be a good opportunity to “reconnect”. I’ll be surrounded by firefighters, friends and family. It will be like easing back into the firehouse, only in a convention type setting.

It’s going to be difficult for me. I remain very emotional and it shows … that’s ok. I’m gonna cry in front of a lot of people this weekend. That’s ok too. I’ve learned that over these past 3 weeks. We’re HUMAN … I’m human. It’s what actually makes us good firemen. I’m going to start talking and “sharing” a lot… about opening up…. about talking (yea… to real live, other people). Sharing our stories, our feelings, our emotions. I’m going to tell ya how it’s ok to use E.A.P (Employee Assistance Programs), counselors and psychologists. IT WORKED FOR ME. If I can do it, anyone can.

I’m not “healed”. I’m not “over it” and I’m not “ok” BUT … I know that I will be. I know that I’ll learn to deal with and live with this pain… with this part of me that’s now missing.

If you’re in or going to be in Daytona for the show, look me up … I could use the company. Leave a comment here, message me on Face Book, hit up Rhett (Fire Critic) or just stop by booth #720 … Zach and Kelly will know where to find me. Heck, I may even put my boots back on while down there and give ya a free demo of FoxFire.

I’ll check back in from sunny Daytona (as soon as I stop and buy a new speedo). I just wanted to let you know (warn ya) that I’m on my way.  THANKS AGAIN for all of and the continued  SUPPORT…. I LOVE YOU GUYS!

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines