Red Skies and Lost Words

Four years ago I watched a little girl die from Malaria before my eyes.  At the time, there were no words that could describe the feelings that flooded through me as I stood there in shock, the echoes of a mother’s scream piercing the air.  Even now, years later, the words to describe it are still lost to me.

There are times in life we will find ourselves face to face with situations where there are no words.  There will never be words to describe how we feel.

Two weeks ago I found myself once again speechless as another great light of my life was taken from us.  A second mother.  A friend.  A survivor.  And, more importantly, one of the most beautiful individuals who touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of military families with her presence.

She was more than just a woman.  A wife.  A mother.  Grandmother.

Words cannot begin to explain how much she meant to all of us, so when we heard the news of her passing, it felt like a part of who we were, who we have become died as well.  And for some unknown reason, we protect ourselves by shutting down.

Earlier this week, the nation watched in horror as the Yarnell Hill Fire consumed hundreds of acres as the wind shifted, killing 19 brave young men.  I woke Monday to the news, but I didn’t realize how close the fires burned until later that evening.

One of the young men who passed away in the flames, one of the heroes that put his life on the line every day protecting lives and properties of those he would never know, was more than a firefighter.  He was more than a hero.

When I became a part of Sun 3, while serving with AmeriCorps*NCCC Class XVII out of Denver, I found myself alongside the members of the Crown King Volunteer Fire Department in the mountains north of Phoenix, AZ.  It was there that I met a young man whose passion drove him to learn and pass on his knowledge to others around him.

Always smiling, he did what he loved and I never once heard him complain about the long hours or the tough conditions in which we worked.  He joked around and carried himself with pride.

He taught me so much in those four weeks that I had the privilege of working beside him.  And I never realized it until he was no longer with us.

I should have written earlier, but how do you find words when your heart cries out in anguish?

How do you tell them what they taught you when you didn’t know?

Looking back, we know now.

These young men were more than brave firefighters who passed away in the line of duty.  They are more than brothers.  More than sons.  Husbands.  Fathers.  Family.  Or Friends.

Each of them were, and still are, an inspiration.  A teacher.  Instructor.  Role model.  They changed peoples lives without knowing it.

And the words to describe the loss are lost to us.

Someone once told me that heroes never die, but they live on in the memories of those left behind.  Even if we cannot find the words, we still carry them with us.

God Bless and PEACE

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