A letter to Clear Lake firehouse 71.

By A Grieving Mother

How do you measure your success? If you pulled a child from a wreck, treated him promptly and professionally, saving his life. This is a good day. Parents thank you for saving their child. And for that moment you are the hero. You are reminded why you chose such a lifestyle and you know this is what you live for. Your life is filled with many stories. Perhaps you treated the wounded on the scene of a terrible fire, or sung a song to calm a scared little girl who doesn’t understand why her mommy won’t wake up. In your down time, you may be an ordinary person, winding down with your friends enjoying a cold beer. Talking about the crazy situations and people you encountered that day.

Then there are the truly hard days, of things you could barely speak. Sights that can never be unseen. Perhaps screams that still linger in your ears, or tear filled faces that haunt you in your sleep. When you have done everything in your power, expended every ounce of your energy to save that life, refusing to stop trying, yet to powerlessly watch this one slip away beyond your reach. Yes, there are some battles even the strongest and bravest cannot win.

You don’t feel like a hero then. There is no thanks. No smiles. Just faces of anguish and pain. You are taught not to let your emotions get involved, told to steel your heart. But deep inside you are still human, and that is what makes you care. When you tuck your kids in bed to sleep, do you hold them extra tight? Do you think about that family who will never have that chance again?

I’ve had experience to see a peek at both sides of EMT life, as one of my own daughters would ride out each day under lights and sirens. She was focused and ready, to do whatever needed to be done. Some days she came home a hero, some days she came home weighted with pain and holding back tears.

But I have also been on the other side, the weeping mother yelling at you not to give up. I have been there with my child under those flashing lights, I have watched you fight long and hard for her life. In that one moment, you were right there in the very center of my world. Life and death hanging in the balances. I was in shock and disbelief, yet refusing to give up hope. You didn’t give up either. In a sense, you were fighting for my own life too. Although CPR is tiring and strenuous, you never slowed or stopped your pace, till arriving at the emergency room and others took over the fight.

Then when all that could be done had been done… my child was gone. I was consumed by my own grief. I remember seeing you again in the ER halls. Yet in my shock I could not to take notice of anything else. Those are the days when you get no thanks, the days when the battle is lost. You go home late and exhausted. The hero that has lost his cape. Of course, “It is just a job. Don’t take it personally.” But under that strong exterior, does it hurt when you lose a fight?

It has taken me two years since that day to be ready to write this, and it may be something you’d never expect to hear from a grieving mother. But for all the battles you have lost, all the days you did all that you could do, for all the screaming voices and faces of despair you have had to face, all the days you went home worn and defeated, the days no one appreciates or calls you a hero, I want to say, Thank you. Thank you for trying your best under some of the worst of circumstances and not giving up. Thank you for being there for us in our time of need. Thank you for getting back up again, through all the wins and the losses. And thank you for giving of the best of your strength, even for the one you couldn’t save. 

By Marie Morrow



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