a little more from Chapter 2 – Sunday – No Surprises: navigating tragedy with faith, family & the FDNY

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Chapter 2 (first draft)

Joy comes in the morning

By Sunday my house was full of people with the best of intentions but it was too much. My friend and pastor, Steve Shomo, stepped in and suggested daily guidelines – Ann doesn’t answer the door or phone, Ann takes a nap every day, Ann eats three meals a day. The time for circling the wagons had come. My baby sister became my protector.  If you wanted to talk to me you would have to get past her unless you were on the list. Yes, there was a pen and paper list of people. Originally the list was people who needed to be contacted and people who I needed to hear from for encouragement. On Sunday, the list became a list of who had access to me.

Within days the list grew into a spiral notebook full of tasks to complete, contact information for the FDNY and NYPD as well as quick resource of numbers for friends and family. I started printing emails and placing them in a three-ring binder so Bruce could see them when he came home. One of those emails was from a young man who had spent the night in our pop-up trailer. Some people bring home stray cats or dogs but Bruce brought home hikers. Appalachian Trail thru hikers to be specific. The Appalachian Trial runs through Greenwood Lake so in the summer time there were hikers invited to sleep in our yard or take a shower or both. Bruce enjoyed hiking and he wanted me to enjoy it too but it wasn’t my thing. I did play a role in his hiking ventures. I was the drop off or pick up person. On ocassion the pick up involved an extra passenger who became a guest for the evening.

On Father’s Day 2001, Bruce invited two young men to spend the night in our pop-up trailer, enjoy a hot shower and a home cooked meal. We were in the process of selling the pop-up so it was already set up in our driveway. In our conversation over dinner we learned that the one young man, David, was a doctoral candidate who was trying to finish the AT before beginning his studies and the other was his cousin who had agreed to accompany him for a portion of the journey. The dinner conversation would also reveal that we were reading the same book – The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkerson. A tiny little book that had caused a big stir in Christian circles. Interesting discussion followed. Bruce prayed for safe journey as they continued their hike and David prayed for us. After dinner that evening, television news reports would reveal a horrific fire in NYC in which three firefighters died in the line of duty.

Bruce attended the funeral of one of the firefighters on the Tuesday which was also Meghan’s eighth grade graduation. He was running late and called to see if Meghan was okay with him wearing his uniform to her graduation. Little did we know how precious the photos of Bruce in his uniform and Meghan in her cap and gown would become. The receipt of a simple email brought all those memories to mind.

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