My parent is a hero...
I had a very interesting conversation with a first responder a couple of weeks ago. Jason had called to thank us for his beautiful quilt. His wife had nominated him. He said at first, he didn't know what to think. Did his wife think this would make everything all better? Why would a grown man need a blanket that would be tied to his everyday struggle to get out of bed, and face the day with so many things chasing him. Not only the never ending visual of what he had seen, heard, smelled; even to the song playing in one of the vehicles that had been involved in carnage of yet another horrible car wreck, but the day to day feeling of incapacitation and the never ending blanket of sadness that just doesn't go away.
A couple of weeks later, however, he was sitting with his wife and adolescent son, and noticed that even though the quilt had sat on the back of a chair for several days, it seemed to be something that eventually would end up wrapped around his young son as they watched television.
Later that night, as his wife was headed to bed, and he was sitting up hoping that eventually he would just drop off to sleep without replaying, and thinking of the what ifs. Night time was plagued with all of those many times that perhaps he could have done something different, or better, that would have changed the outcome of so many scenarios.
Tonight, though, the image of his son wrapped in the quilt, looking at the label was foremost in his mind. "What occurred to me that night", Jason told me, "was that I was gifted something that I really didn't feel I was worthy of. My world was falling apart around me. My family was living with a stranger, who, though physically present, was really so very absent.
I mentioned to my wife that our son sure did like that quilt. She sat beside me and told me it wasn't just the quilt. It was the acknowledgement that there were people out there who saw the hero that he saw in his dad, even though Jason couldn't see it in himself. His son was also grieving.
Jason made a suggestion for our organization. Maybe, when we provide quilts, we could also include the families of our heroes. "Even if it is one quilt for the family, but if it was given to the family, maybe it would provide a path for more healing for everyone."
I spent some time thinking about Jason, and his son. Our heroes are there for us; they. sacrifice so much for us. So do their families. Their lives are also forever changed from a situation where they weren't even physically present, and probably don't even know the details. Image if the children of our heroes were also acknowledged. There doesn't need to be a lot of words. Maybe those words will come within their home, between the people so directly affected. I think we need to start wrapping the families of our heroes in compassion.