See me smiling? See me laughing? I don’t have a care in the world but to enjoy a weekend with some of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege to know. there is a secret behind this smile though. Would you believe that this happy face is just moments away from a panic attack?
This photo was taken during the recent honor guard convention. I was having the time of my life. I had just gotten out of practice. My wife was seriously enjoying herself with all the great people we get to surround ourselves with as Well.
As my face began to hurt from all the smiling and laughing, I decided to sit down to check on an email. That’s when i noticed something wasn’t right.
WHERE IS MY IMPORTANT FOLDER?!?!
I kept a folder in my email to keep special things. This folder was simply labeled “important” Most importantly was an email I had received from my former EMS system. This email told me everything that I needed reassured of pertaining to “the call”. You did all you could, you did it right, nothing you did or didn’t do would have been able to fix the outcome for the better. I must have read the email a million times. I could recite it line by line.
WHERE IS THE EMAIL?!?!
I look around the room. I see the same smiling faces, some of them even look back at me. I feel a hot flash. I Shoot a half smirk their way. I feel my legs begin to shake. I search feverishly through my email boxes over and over to no avail. My breathing hastens. More waves and how are ya’s from old and new friends alike. I don’t even know what I’m responding at this point but apparently it’s good enough for them, they smile and say “Great! See ya in a minute then!” My eyes are feeling wet and inflamed. I have to get out of here!
I NEED THAT EMAIL!!!
That’s when a very close friend of mine steps over. He starts small talk until he sees the look on my face. “I need to talk” I say. Within moments we find a quiet spot Off the hotel lobby. No sooner do I look at him than the tears start falling, I open my mouth and nothing but quick shallow breathing and a staccato of what almost pass for words come out.
I’VE HAD IT SO LONG, I NEED IT AND NOW ITS GONE!!!!
He listens to me as long as I felt I needed to talk, I stammered and paced the floor for so long, and he stood there listening. When I had said all my voice would allow, I fell against the wall. My vision is blurring I’m getting dizzy and I’m wishing to God that the next time I looked at my phone my precious security blanket would be back.
WHY IS IT GONE NOW!!!!
I didn’t realize it for a few minutes, but in one fell swoop, he disarmed my panic with a single blow. “Maybe that’s because it needs to be.” He says. Wow… seriously? An answer so simple and yet, my brain is wrapping around it. I knew what that email had said, I could recite it, I knew everything that was in it. Why did I need to keep the copy? Why did I need it? What benefit was it to have taking up space to read yet again?
The answer? Painfully, I didn’t. I didn’t need it, I shouldn’t have been using it as a crutch for my emotions. Thankfully I had a true friend to help me through the pain of this realization.
Everything slowly comes back into focus. My breathing gets more regular, my legs stop shaking, and my voice comes back. I say thank you and ask for a moment alone. It took a few more minutes, but because I reached out to someone I could trust, now I saw the light at the end of this passage, I knew it was over and I was going to be ok.
Brothers and sisters, I know it’s tough sometimes when we face the unexpected. I know things aren’t always going to have a great ending, and it’s ok not to smile all the time. We have to understand that despite the normality of a bad time, it doesn’t have to mean a bad day, a bad week, a bad year, or a bad life. We have to get back up, and if need by find someone to help us get back on our feet. Whether military or civilian, police, dispatch, fire, or EMS, if you ever want to talk, let’s get you through this together.
Let’s take a walk.