So many of us send our thoughts and prayers
Today, on July 1, 2014, I hiked up Storm King with my dog. I felt compelled to go. This wasn’t planned, so we left later in the morning than I would have liked. I knew that it would be hot.
I have hiked this trail many times these past 17 years, mostly alone, which I prefer. The parking lot was empty except for one truck. Sometimes my dog waited for me, and sometimes I waited for her as the temperature climbed despite a faint cool breeze. I paused at the informal memorial at the start of the trail and moved on to the memorial photos and biographies of the firefighters who perished in 1994. I have read their stories and looked into the eyes of these special heroes so many times. One name and face will always stand out for me, Don Mackey.
I met his mother in 1999 in the most unlikely place, the public hot springs locker room. Maybe it was because my parents died suddenly the year before or that I am the mother of a son that we were drawn into conversation of things in general. I have no memories of how crowded the locker room was, or what was said prior to her telling me that she was here to remember her son who had died in the fire. We clasped hands and stood silently weeping. Motherhood is a universal language. No words were spoken.
I have thought of her many times since then and wonder if she comes every year. Just like the hike up Storm King today I had no intention of sharing this moment in time. Somehow my feelings changed during the course of this day. I hope she reads this and knows that so many of us send our thoughts and prayers to her and the other families of the fallen firefighters during the days of this solemn anniversary.
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