Yesterday two Chicago firefighters died when a roof collapsed as they battled a blaze in a one-story abandoned building. Edward Stringer had two adult children. Corey Ankum left behind three children under the age of 12. 17 other firefighters were injured, including one who was desperately trying to save Aknum. Four firefighter remain in critical condition today.
There are horrors I do not want to imagine; horrors I cannot allow myself to imagine.
The holidays. The children. The huge gaping loss. The senselessness of it all. I have watched the videos of firefighters lining the road to stand in salute as their fallen brothers were taken away from the hospital to the morgue. I have felt the heavy burden of the reality of firefighting heaped upon my shoulders and it wasn’t my fire house, my fire family or my husband.
I sat watching the news in a general state of shock yesterday. A few tears were rolling down my cheeks. BigBrother asked what was wrong. I didn’t tell him that firefighters died, just that they got hurt. He understands that firefighters can get hurt. During a fire earlier this year, our two best friends on the department were injured (note: paid article). We prayed special prayers for them. But I don’t think he knows yet the true danger that his Daddy faces. I pray neither boy ever fully grasps that concept.
When I find a way to donate to the Corey Ankum Memorial Fund, our family will do so. I haven’t met her. As far as I know, Dameka Ankum wasn’t a blogger — mommy, fire or otherwise. But she’s still a part of my family. And now she’s grieving. And will be for a long time to come. I huddled under my covers last night, trying to imagine what she was feeling and how she would make it through the night. I know the answer: her children. But that doesn’t make the pain disappear. My heart breaks for her; for the kids as well.
Similarly, if I find a donation fund for Edward Stringer, we will donate as well. As a mother, I cannot imagine my child dying in such a manner. As a daughter, I would be devastated to lose my father so dramatically, without a chance to say goodbye. I mean, I already have the presents for my own dad wrapped and under our tree. Devastating.
If you have a moment today, stop and think of these families who have lost so much so soon before Christmas. Hold them in your hearts, your minds and your prayers. Cover them with love. Whether you’re in Chicago or Pittsburgh or Columbus or Tampa or San Fransisco or Seattle or Toronto. Whether your’e part of the fire family or not. Families are grieving today. Hold them close. And don’t forget the surviving firefighters, whether injured or not. The fire family is a unique family unit. The grief is going to run deep for some time to come.
And if you’re part of a fire family, hug your firefighter a little tighter today.