In gratitude to first-responders

I wasn’t intending to blog today, but I feel blessed and need to say, “thank you.”

You see, it’s a picture-perfect summer morning here in New Hampshire. Cool temps, blue skies… and sirens in the distance. For many of you, sirens may be so much background noise, but when you live in the country, it’s different. Questions immediately run through your head. Where are they going? How many are there? Who lives over there or commutes through there at this hour? Unlike more heavily populated places, sirens here mean there’s a high probability someone we know is in trouble. And the first-responders, too, are people we know: neighbors, husbands, fathers, wives…

My daughter at 18 MonthsI’ll never forget the night years ago when I was home alone with my two small children. My son was five, my daughter not quite eighteen months. I was in the kitchen getting ready for dinner, the kids in the living room, my daughter happily kicking a soft rubber ball… and it all happened so quickly. Her foot got caught and she fell backward on the hardwood floor. I swept her up and begged her to ‘breathe’ as her eyes lost focus and she fell limp and unconscious in my arms. The five year-old was old enough to understand what 9-1-1 meant, and I simultaneously tried to reassure him while I held my daughter and prayed she’d wake up and be okay.

It was only minutes before help arrived. The first person at my door? A dear friend and my daughter’s godfather. He isn’t technically in our town and it wasn’t his ‘jurisdiction,’ but he and his wife were eating dinner and heard the call go out on the scanner and knew who it must be. Soon others, neighbor EMTs, from up the hill had arrived. My friend (and godmother to my daughter) quietly came in the door and took my five year-old to her car so he’d be cared for while we assessed my daughter and determined whether we should transport her for evaluation.

And in those awful moments which, thank God, were short-lived, and in which my daughter came to and my husband finally arrived, I knew there was nowhere I’d rather live than here, in this community, where, yes, people know your business and your commuting schedule and what you look like without make-up but also where these same people will drop whatever they are doing–their ‘day’ jobs, their dinners and their own celebrations–to rush to help.

So, it wasn’t a shameless attempt to garner “hot hero” points when I made the heroes in my first two books volunteer firefighters. To me, they are the epitome of what is good and hopeful about living in a small town.

I do not know why the sirens were sounding this morning. But I am so very grateful to first-responders everywhere for answering the call–and to dear friends and neighbors who live life with courage and honor. If it’s only in fiction, I dedicate my happily-ever-afters to you.

If you would like to honor a first-responder in the comments section or share your own experience(s), please do. These men and women deserve to be recognized for their service!

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