Friday, January 20, 2017
I usually use this blog for moments of growth and reflection. Tonight I want to share a moment of grief that caught me off guard. A moment that took my breath away. I was driving home tonight and I was thinking about random things and had the thought of fire fighters and paramedics and what they see in their careers which lead to the memory that took my breath.
Over the years and especially in the beginning of this journey I needed to know every detail of the day Mckenna died. I wanted to hear from others that were involved that day, I wanted to hear their stories. I was given the opportunity to speak with the paramedic and EMT. It's actually a really neat story of how it happened but that may be a story for another time. The moment that I was remembering tonight was from the EMT. When I called 911 I was so hysterical that they could not understand what I was saying so they automatically dispatched a code but they did not say if it was an adult or child. The EMT shared that when he walked in and saw Mckenna's little body on the ground it stopped him in his tracks because he wasn't expecting a baby. He said he had a baby at home.I was imagining what that must have felt like and my heart dropped. I remember standing there and I couldn't even see Mckenna. She was surrounded by these fire fighters and paramedics. I was standing there watching them frantically try and stabilize my sweet baby girl. I stood there in shock as the police were talking to me and I was on the phone sobbing saying, oh my god what have I done, I killed my baby over and over. I was imagining the feeling of this young EMT as he walked in a home where he was expecting to help save an adult but instead an infant was laying there lifeless. He said that the fire chief had to snap him out of it for him to do his job. I remember getting into the passenger seat of the ambulance looking over and he had this terrified look on his face and did not say two words to me. I believe he knew what the outcome was going to be and he could not face the mother of the baby he just tried to save but knew would not live.
Meeting those men and hearing their stories of the worst day of my life has always been a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I was able to thank them for working so hard to save Mckenna and a curse because I heard things I could not unhear.
Since I was on the Crisis Response Team I have an understanding of what fire fighters and paramedics see on a regular basis. The horrific scenes that you can't unsee. They do not realize the impact they have on the families they interact with and the lasting impressions they give. I did not interact with them much, but I will forever and always be thankful that they fought for Mckenna to live and when they heard she died they were devastated.
My poor baby girl, my sweet baby girl. So many memories pop into my head but that is the first time I put myself in that EMT's shoes. They have a tough job and they said they will never forget Mckenna. I will never forget them either.
I have been missing Mckenna and can feel the build up of grief. This brought me to tears as I remembered this moment. My baby girl died and there are days that I still can't believe that she's gone...
Friday, January 13, 2017
I may have been built from the fire but I was also lost in the fire.
I have been reflecting a lot on my life and where I am today. A few months back I wanted to join the Glendale Fire Crisis Response team again. I felt I was ready to do what I feel I am meant to be doing. I was finally able to do the ride along in Dec and it felt good to be back on the van. I knew it would be a different experience this time around. As an intern it almost killed me (literally). I had the interview and I was picked to join the team again. Again it felt right and felt like “home” to be at the fire station and being part of the team again. They have training classes and in one of the classes I was drowning in memories. Personally I have had the crisis response team show up for 3 different family members and all very traumatic circumstances. I was drowning in the memories of the calls I went on as an intern. All 8 hours of the class I was trying to swim through the memories without them taking me down.
I sat with this for a long time. I took time to reflect on my life and especially the time I was previously on the team. How I survived that time in my life I will never know but I did. I was working at PCH full time on the night shift. I worked Fri, Sat, Sun. I had classes Tues and Thurs and internship Tues night to Wed night. On top of all that I was dealing with my mom and her drinking was getting worse and worse. Exhausted was an understatement. I was lost and felt broken but I kept pushing through. I lost my brother and my mother right after my internship with the CR team. That was the second worst year of my life. The rest of that year was awful and I had come to realize that I am not superwoman and had to realize that I could no longer push through my pain because it was catching up to me. It was time to face the pain I was punishing myself for and the added pain of continued losses.
Looking back I can now see that I really was trying to punish myself for what I was responsible for, responsible for taking my daughter’s life. Accident or not I was responsible and that is how I handled it. I put myself in the fire. I chose to go into the fire over and over. I chose to go the most painful route because that is what I deserved, if you accidently kill your daughter you deserve to be in pain forever. It all felt right at the time and honestly if I didn’t go that route I may not have become who I am today.
Time after time the fire became what I was used to. The fire was my punishment. As I reflected on this over the week I came to realize that I no longer feel the need to put myself in the fire. I no longer feel the need to cause mental and emotional trauma to myself. Do I love the work that took me down this path, yes, I just don’t need to ALWAYS put myself in situations that cause me pain. Would it be different if I wasn’t so personally affected by the CR team, probably but I am personally affected and I can’t change that.
All of this to say that I know I am not ready and I AM listening. I don’t need to push through and prove myself. It will come on its own and I may one day be on that van again. But right now my work is enough. I will get there one day because I know in my heart that that is the area of work that I am meant to be doing.
I am in such a different place now. I am constantly growing and becoming. I am learning every day at my job. I have beautiful friends and family who support me along the way, even on the days I am struggling to breathe. I have my freaking MSW and worked damn hard to earn that. I have a job that may not be a good fit, but right now it may be where I am meant to be.This journey called life is so unpredictable and I would have never been able to see where I would end up 4 years ago. Here I am scarred from the fires but standing strong on the other side of them.