This past week our Kansas City community and beyond have shared the grief of losing two firefighters in the line of duty. We feel the loss not only for the families of the men who died, but for ourselves as well. Most of us have lost someone whose absence leaves us stunned and experiencing the meaning of the Sting lyrics: On and on the rain will say, “How fragile we are. How fragile we are.”
We spend a lot of energy celebrating strength. But, in a way, it is understanding our fragility that helps us to celebrate each day, one day at a time, not wasting any opportunities on things that are not really that important. When we really know how fragile life is, we take better care of one another and ourselves so as not to waste it. The firefighters were eulogized as men who loved their work and gave their all to each and every call. The love and kindness they gave to so many are the strong memories that remain and inspire, despite the loss of their lives.
To those of us left to carry on, we have a chance to rededicate our lives to also doing what we love. In a way, we all have a chance to save lives, not only the physical lives of others but also the emotional lives of those we come into contact with, in our own individual spheres of influence. Loving our work, paid or unpaid, as a service to others is a way of doing this. You never forget someone who has “saved your life,” in any way.
When I was growing up and had to go to funeral visitations, I did not know what to say as we went through the line. My mother told me that I should simply say, “I express my sympathy,” and then find a way to be there for those who had the loss in the coming hard days of adjustment. She always made and delivered a casserole.