2011/365/021: In the Line of Duty

Time: 1813

Opening Impressions:

1. We went into school today for our half-day, despite the condition of the roads being far worse than they were earlier this week when we landed a two-hour delay. It was important that we held our mid-terms today to stay on schedule with posting grades, but I question the criteria used on Wednesday in comparison with today’s decision to open on time. As far as I know, everybody got to school safely, which doesn’t surprise me; the roads just weren’t that bad. If Wednesday the roads were in even better shape, why the 2-hour delay then but not today?

2. The funeral arrangements have been set for Mark Falkenhan, the firefighter who died saving lives earlier this week in an apartment building in Towson/Parkville. The viewings will be in an armory hall, as they anticipate hundreds, if not thousands, of people coming from multiple states to pay their respects.

3. I remember the day my father was buried, and the hearse drove by my brother’s fire station in Parkville. There they were, dressed in blues, saluting his casket as the procession passed. He died as a result of a medical call in 1986; the Baltimore City Fire Department declined to rule his death “In the Line of Duty.”

The Point:

I received a text from my brother a few minutes ago. After spending decades in the fire department, he now serves as a clergyman to firefighters and their families. In his text, he offered me a reminder that we need to be grateful right now for the blessings that we do have. Sometimes, things just don’t turn out the way we want them to.

I couldn’t agree with him more. I think that, every day, we face the possibility for things to turn out differently than we might have planned. Sometimes, that plays out tragically; other times, it alters our plans in such a way that we are dealt with a new set of opportunities and possibilities.

All of the comments I have received and have heard about Mark Falkenhan have dwelled on his love for his family, and his passion for life. I saw a slide show earlier this evening of his time spent with family and friends, and you could tell that he embraced life fully.

We don’t have to be firefighters to know that our own lives are on the line every day. Slippery roads, medical conditions, or freak accidents can hit us at any time, any place, for any reason. We just don’t know.

We DO know this moment, though, and of this one thing we can be certain. So love it, cherish it, believe in it. Never live with the assumption that tomorrow is guaranteed for any of us.

Three Things That Made My Day:

1. Laughing with my yearbook students today in school. Really. I wish you could meet each and every one of them. They’re that special.

2. Leaving school with students still working on their yearbook spreads and applications for next year’s team. They are so dedicated, committed to this program. I am the luckiest teacher in the world to know these children.

3. Coming home to my wife with a box of Kirchmayr Truffles to kick off our 17-year anniversary celebration. Happy anniversary, Amy! I love you! 🙂

Journeying Words:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” ~Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

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