My friend called late on Sunday night. Have you heard the news? No. I was in bed playing Candy Crush. She proceeds to tell me 19 firemen from our town died fighting the Yarnell fire. Shock hit me first. Then fear. We know several firemen. Are they okay? I quickly got my computer out of sleep mode and there it was. We hung up the phone and I went from local news, to national news, the story was spreading well, like wildfire.
I went to bed with a Kleenex in my hand and tears in my eyes. I updated my Facebook status on Monday morning to say this: One of the things we love about living in Prescott is that it's a small town, everybody knows everybody. I didn't personally know the 19 firefighters who lost their lives yesterday, but I feel like I did. They were men I probably passed in the aisles at Fry's. One was the son of my neighbor around the corner who is always outside taking care of his yard and who stops to smile and wave whenever I go by. We are friends with several firefighters here who knew every man on that crew. They will be going to 19 funerals this week. My heart is heavy today and I pray for their families.
I talked to the kids about what happened as I watched the news trying to figure out what went wrong. I watched the pictures of the 19 firemen slowly show up on the TV along with pictures of their families. They were husbands and fathers and sons. We've mourned with our community. We help in any way we can. A donation to the 100 Club and sending bags of groceries to one of the widows helps feel like you are at least doing something. But our hearts are still heavy and I tear up thinking about these brave men who lost their lives trying to save a town when everyone else in the town was getting the heck out of there.
Ben, who we always say is an old soul, seems to get the impact of what happened. We passed a business with 19 American flags in front of it. He said, "Are those for the heroes." Yes, Ben. "19 flags for 19 deaths of 19 heroes."
This evening Ben and Noah were playing in Ben's room. Ben has dressed up every day for 4 years in superhero costumes. In this last 6 months, he seemed to be outgrowing it. We'd see him in a costume maybe once a week. Noah is enjoying wearing the costumes now. But tonight Ben came out in costume and my heart stopped for a moment.
I forgot he even had that costume. It was at the bottom of his dress up bins covered up by Iron Man and Wolverine.
After the weeks events, I think Ben understands that real superheroes don't spin webs or have xray vision. That they aren't green or dressed up like a bat. They are the men and women in our community that go to work every day to make our lives better. The people who do a job that I could never do. The people who run towards a crisis when everyone else is running away from it. In time, our community will heal and move on. Life always does. But I know that we will always remember the 19 brave men that we lost.