It’s Always a Matter of Life and Death

So I told Nick last week that I wanted to quit my job and become a writer. I told him I wanted to write a show stopping and titillating best seller, and that in order to do this I needed excessive free time and access to ever-flowing caffeine.

He laughed at me.  Not out of lack of support or anything, but out of my deluded belief that we could afford for me to be out of work for months or maybe years while I wrote the world’s next best seller.  He told me to write in my spare time until I made it big and then we can discuss definitive career changes.  It’s logical, how can I argue.  After this bit of delusional amusement, however, we had a genuine discussion about me pursuing my dreams while realistically continuing to live and accomplish my day to day tasks.

It was his idea that I write about life in the Fire Department.  His eyes lit up in that cute way they do when he is excited.

Nick– “Think about it, babe. Life as a volunteer, risking your life through fires, blizzards, car accidents, and hurricanes.  People love to hear about that stuff, and they love seeing that we’re human too.”

Me– “Eh, I suppose”

Nick – “You suppose?? Think of how many ridiculous, hilarious, sad or touching things have happened in the last 6 years. It would read like fiction and be 100% true with a few name changes and such.  Think of all the experiences that you’ve had that other people never will.  Why not tell the world?”

Me– “It’s definitely something to consider. I’ll think about it.”

This was clearly the end of the conversation, and he knew it.  He didn’t push me to see why I wasn’t as excited about it as him, which is part of why I love him so much. He just knows that sometimes I don’t want to talk about it.  I could see the unasked question in his eyes though, and it hung between us in the air.  He was dying to know why this did not strike me as it did him.  I had no answer formulated and no interest in further discussion, so I moved the conversation elsewhere.

But really, it is a good question and I forced myself to face it when I was alone.  He was right when he said it was a good idea, but why can’t I bring myself to sit and write about it.  In the last 6 years I never have been able to dedicate much pen time to the Fire Service.  It has nothing to do with it not being interesting enough either, because trust me when I say it would be a barrel of laughs and a river of tears throughout the entire story line.  I think my real fear is that my words would never do it justice or that no one on the outside of this life would really understand.

There is no way for me to even fully describe to you what occurs on a fire scene. There are too many senses involved to have that description even sound realistic.  And how could I attempt to put into words the moments that you share in someone’s life as they take their last breath?  What words exist to describe the pain you share with families as you try and tell them that their worst fears are confirmed?  Do I want to break other people’s hearts and sting their eyes with tears as so many calls have done to me? What type of explanation can I use for actions that are so second nature to me?  And then there are also joyous moments, pranksters, camaraderie, everyday stress and monotony; where would they fall in this literary roller coaster?  Then, should I get through all that, what of my emotions?  Part of my trepidation occurs from the emotional ride that composing such a collection of stories would be.  I don’t think I have the ability to fully keep my sentiments in check when discussing these things and perhaps these stories would feel more personal than they should.  Maybe people would judge me based on the things they read with little real understanding.  I am not sure if my heart or mind could bear these possibilities becoming realities.  Then again maybe it would heal me in a way that tears cannot.  I can’t really be sure.

I told him I would consider it, but that has only left me further undecided.  I think that maybe, should the mood strike; I will travel slowly down this road. When the ghosts of alarms past come sneaking up perhaps I will write in snippets and see where they lead me.  I can’t lie, just writing this out has made me feel better about so many things.  Maybe Nick was onto something or maybe he knew something I didn’t about myself.  It wouldn’t be the first time – and I hate when he does that.

3 thoughts on “It’s Always a Matter of Life and Death

  1. I think it’s a great idea. For one it could help you hone your writing skills. It would be a good way to tell a story and learn to add the chaos that sometimes comes with what you do.
    Most of my posts the last few months are all about Italy but I work at an animal hospital. We have many life and death events. Sometimes I write about them. It helps me emotionally to get the story told so I don’t carry the sadness as much internally.
    Of course we’d all love to hear the funny and happy endings too!!!

    http://mountaingypsy.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/the-long-road-to-georgia/

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement. It really means a lot to me.

      Also, thank you for sharing your own poignant story. Our jobs are so familiar with dealing with loss and the pain it causes others. Sometimes work isn’t “just another day” and I know that you are aware of exactly what I mean. 🙂

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