Those of you who have followed me for any length of time know of my struggles and personal battles over the past almost 2 years now. It’s been a dark and difficult journey.
This time of the year is extremely difficult…. Thanksgiving, Christmas etc. it will be my 2nd without Jack.
For me, December now means more than Christmas, it also brings the anniversary of his death. Our birthdays will soon follow in early January.
I’ve written about my battle with Grief, Depression, Stress and PTSD for some time now and just recently wrote a little about my decline in progress.
The post was titled “Making the push… a Firefighters struggle with Mental Illness”. (You can click that title for a link to the post in case you didnt get to read it).
I feel (know) as if I had made progress through counseling etc. I had made “the stretch” and found my way to “the jamb”. All I needed to do was keep it together long enough to make a knock down and push on into the room. It didn’t happen.
In that article I spoke about a couple of things in particular that I thought were obstacles for me. Jackson’s cloths and grave site have been two things I’ve found difficult to move past.
I wasn’t sure what the answer was… I still don’t know. I’ve tried to describe it many times in my posts yet I still feel somewhat disoriented … unable to focus … confused. I don’t know what it is I’m looking for but I’m still “Searching” (Click the title for a link to another article that may help explain).
What I did this past Tuesday was a lot like that … “searching”. Searching on or above the fire floor. Crawling on your belly in pitch black … complete darkness… “Zero Visibility” (another link worth your click). Not knowing what lies ahead, where you’re going or what you may encounter along the way. Reaching out trying to find something … someone but also hoping you wont. What will we find? Life, death or something in between?
It’s difficult to make that search. I’ve been there … Not wanting to crawl down that hallway or into that room. Knowing you’re going to find something but not really prepared for what it may be. This is the type of search that you have to come face to face with… mask to nose. It’s never pretty … people don’t die with their mouths and eyes closed. Their arms are not crossed on their chest with a “Hollywood” like smile or peaceful look on their face. You don’t want to make that “push” … the crawl down that hallway but we know we MUST. We must and somehow we do. Tomorrow, if need be; we’ll do it again.
I visit there often but yesterday I had a special purpose. I went to set his head / tomb stone (marker).
I went alone …. it was something I wanted and had to do.
Rhett has always been a huge source of support for me and I spoke to him while on the road yesterday. He wanted to go with me but understood why I needed to go alone.
We ended our conversation with him saying that he would be thinking about me all day, for me to call if I needed him and asked for God to be with me…. “God be with you brother” is how we ended our conversation.
As beautiful as that is, I have to admit that I’ve found myself wondering where God has been in all of this. I’ve questioned everything, including my faith. Rhett’s words struck home and helped me to find a little of that faith again. Think of that … something as simple as talking to a brother / sister, making a simple heart felt statement; can open doors and create healing that you may never realize.
It was difficult to say the least …. shopping for my brothers head stone. A permanent marker saying that he was really dead … gone.
Shape, size, wording etc.
I wanted something nice. Something Jackson would like. I also needed something that the rest of the family would like but knew all along that I wasn’t going to ask their approval.
I came up with the stone pictured right. It has his birth name as well as the names that he was known by to family and friends. I decided to include a fish and deer head as Jackson was an avid outdoors man (among many other things). I think he would have liked that part best.
I had the stone, shovels, picks, string, level and a carton of beer.
I spent the day in the cold, wet rain / snow.
I’d dig / scratch a little and then sit and talk a while. Maybe a “labor of love” type of thing but if so …also maybe too little too late. It was a difficult day, full of tears.
I didn’t want to be there doing that…. I wish more than anything in this world that I didn’t have to be there at all but I did.
I got the stone set and said some things I’ve been needing to say. I think it turned out nice and somehow, I got through it.
I share this story with you so you’ll know…. so you’ll see. Sometimes .. in life and on the job; we’re all faced with doing things that we don’t want to have to do yet we know that we MUST. Know that with the help, love and support of our families, from our Brothers and Sisters… no matter the obstacle or how monumental the task … you can do it …. just as I did.
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Stay SAFE and in House!