Some Saturday mornings, you really should be packing for your SAR overnight training, but you find yourself at your husband’s volunteer fire department, wiping wax off the rescue truck.

And when a 9/11 Memorial truck pulls into the bay, you stop what you’re doing and you struggle to hold back tears, right alongside the husband-who wouldn’t cry if you dropped a Halligan bar on his toe.

So you stand there, surprised by all the emotions you feel as you read the names on the doors, the men who knew they could die that day, as they knew everyday, but probably didn’t think they would. The FDNY baseball hat the lieutenant tossed onto the seat as he geared up and left the cab is now encased in glass, a monument to a moment long ago.

You back up and watch the guys, and girls, of the Albion Fire Department, all volunteers, wash and wax that dented truck with greater care than you could imagine. You watch a young guy, who was probably about 5 when the towers came down, climb underneath it with a brush, and hand-scrub the road grime from the mudflaps, covering himself with it. You swallow the lump in your throat as you watch your husband, who spent last Sunday on a roof at a house fire, go over the chrome and the steel with a soft cloth. You can’t imagine what is inside his head.

But you know what’s inside yours, as your search dog lays obediently in an empty bay next to the truck. You know that this rescue truck, FDNY Rescue 4, was put back together with pieces and parts from other trucks, like Rescue 3 from Harlem, which also didn’t make it back that day. ¬†You know that this is not just your legacy as an American, as a human, but as a search professional.

And you know that you are on holy ground, so you pray the Orthodox prayer for the departed, you make the sign of the cross and you venerate the shield on the door.

You pray too, that we could one day understand that we are all the same, we bleed when we die, we cry for our dead and our souls live forever.

When you go home to pack for your overnight, gathering your SAR ready pack and your kits, your ropes and your PFDs, you take a little more care than normal.

Because everything matters.

2016-06-11 09.14.09


A hail of bullets

Some random thoughts before I head into the weekend and off to Ohio for participation in a Warrior Dash.

* This whole Warrior Dash nonsense was my youngest sister’s idea. M called up E (middle sister) and me back in February with this great idea that the three of us jump through fire, cross muddy streams and run a 5K. Won’t that be fun, she says. Sure, we say. We pay our entry fees.

Like two weeks later she calls us back. Hey, remember that part about the three of us, oh, well, oops. I’m preggers. So M and her seven-month pregnant self will be taking pictures and holding our car keys while E and I dash. I think she did it on purpose.

Seriously, jump through fire.

*This morning on the socialist, liberal elite-communist-loving NPR (to which I listen religiously), I had some little 9/11 moments while I woke up. I am not sure I am going to make it through the weekend without going on a crying jag about this. (I don’t think that would be a bad thing).

I have heard lots of stories about Fr. Mychal Judge, the fantastic Franciscan who went to the Towers to aid the dying. He became casualty #1 –the first one identified. The more I hear, the more I am sure I should ask Fr. Mychal to pray for us all, especially this weekend. Memory Eternal, Father.

*Speaking again of 9/11, I can get behind the stair climbs as appropriate memorials to the victims. I saw my first stair climb this spring at a massive firefighter conference in downtown Indianapolis. I stood with the boyfriend next to a football field full of firetrucks while his colleagues from all over the world, some wearing turnout gear, climbed up and down the steps in Lucas Oil Stadium. A pipe and drum corps played Amazing Grace and I wiped tears from my eyes.

I say this a lot when I write about Orthodoxy. We are physical creatures, more than just our minds. We love with our bodies, we (should) worship appropriately with our bodies and we should mourn with our bodies as well. The stair climbs are concrete ways to enter into the grief and horror of that day. It allows us to participate in a concrete way with the loss and work of others. It doesn’t change anything, but what a tribute of respect. Maybe I’ll do a civilian one someday.

*One more thing, on a lighter note. I forgot to tell you that one of the highlights of Crabfest 2011 was when we set up my mom’s Christmas tree in her living room, lit, at 1 a.m. and in complete silence. GOOD TIMES.

This could get ugly

OK, so I swore I wasn’t going to get sucked into 9/11 again this year. I know, 10 years and all that. I’m a member of the media, right, so we love a good anniversary.

But this is different, isn’t it? This was the live action, in-living-color-murder of 3,000 children of God — Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, gone in minutes.

It made me sad. It still makes me sad. And now, having just picked at the scab via the NY Times extraordinary presentation of audio tapes gathered that day, I am thinking the next few days will bring the exact opposite behavior of what I had intended.

I’m not going to go out and buy a 9/11 commemorative edition of People magazine. I’m not going to watch the specials on TV, or whatever. But I am going to go to church on 9/11. I will light a candle in the entrance and in the nave for those who died. I will pray. And I will mourn.

And I’ll probably be blogging a bit about it, too. I’m sorry in advance.