Do this. Take a nice long look at this photograph from the funeral for NYFD Lieutenant Michael Davidson that was held recently. Look past the widow’s glasses that are obviously in place to protect her children and the public from the pain that is churning in her soul. Yet her pain still flows over with her facial expression.
If you could look past those glasses, past her tear-filled eyes, past her numerous thoughts and into her soul what would you see? What would you hear? Would you hear that her husband would come home deflated because of the DRAMA at the firehouse? Would you hear her husband talk about the pain in his body that he feels everyday due to his calling? Would you hear about how difficult it is to mentor to the younger generation of firefighters because they already know the answers? Would you hear about interior vs. exterior attack? Would you hear that he is constantly beat down by others and the negativity in the firehouse is toxic? Would you hear that we lack the appropriate leadership? Would you hear about the attacks on social media because he posted a new thought or tactic? Would you hear anything positive?
In my opinion you would not hear any of that, you know why? She doesn’t care about that anymore. She lost her hero, her husband, her kid’s dad. What would she tell you that at the end of the day? “It doesn’t matter!” What her soul may tell you is that her husband trained, worked, studied, worked out, talked to the guys and gals at the firehouse, mentored with no thought as to who or what the outcome may be, drove the truck, stretched the line, cut the hole, forced the door, washed the truck, cleaned the axe, washed his gear, cooked breakfast lunch and dinner, came home to his wife and kids, cooked at home, cut the grass, raked the leaves, fed the dogs, swept the kitchen floor, braided his daughter’s hair, played catch with his boys and loved his wife. The list could go on and on of that I am sure, but as you can see, that list is what matters.
Negativity, drama, toxic people, circumstances that we cannot control, worry over issues that will be solved no matter what and social media heroes that can type 160 characters but lack character in itself — it does not matter. What you say is your “calling,” will and can kill you. The tones may drop while reading this and you may never return. Be ready, live that way, serve that way, care that way. So, let’s try this. Treat each other with respect, drop the drama, drop the negativity, be the positive change that people will see and want to be a part of, be the first to hit the gym, be the first boots on the ground, train like your life depends on it, HELP each other and lift each other up. We were able to see firsthand this week of how we take care of each other in a tragedy. Let’s just do that now so when the day comes we don’t have to wear the glasses to protect ourselves and others from the pain we feel. We can smile because we did what matters!
Daren Vaughn began with the fire service in 1996 as an 11-year-old with the Rock Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Anderson County, S.C. He has served in numerous roles since and currently holds the rank of captain of training. He is a volunteer with the City of Belton Fire Department. He is employed as an Arson/Bomb investigator for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
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