Please note that this truth is written from a females perspective, but applies to both male and female Firefighter spouses/fiance's.
By Kym Harper Styers
Dear Future Fireman's Girlfriends and Wives,
I am going to lay out some truth for you. It's harsh, but honest. I wish someone would have said this to me 18 years ago when I became one.
One misconception I had was the sexiness of the job. That turnout gear is something isn't it? Makes a girls heart melt. Nothing like seeing your man all decked out looking like he's about to pose as Mr. July in a calendar. Whew! Sexy, but then you smell it after a fire. A smell that a residential washing machine can't touch. A smell so bad that it burns your nose. A smell that takes days to clear the air. Not to mention the black stuff he is now hacking up in your sink and blowing out of his nose. Kinda kills the sexy.
I didn't realize the loneliness. You see, fire calls happen. Picture yourself out shopping all day for the perfect outfit. You've got your make up perfect, hair is amazing. You have waited all day for this date. Five minutes before you leave a call comes in. There goes date night! If you are lucky it will be something that can be handled quickly, as in an hour or two. Most of the time it's a lot longer. After your makeup isn't as perfect, your hair is flat, and you may have stuffed yourself with cookies while you waited. Countless dinners that you cook you will eat alone. Events you have planned together you will go to alone. You will spend holidays alone. Emergencies aren't planned around your schedule. Sometimes you can even be having your own emergency. You could be having say, an appendicitis, but can't get in touch with him because it's in the middle of a snow storm and he is on call after call. If you have children you will be their main caretaker. You will have to wipe their tears and explain to them on their level why Daddy didn't get to come to their softball game or their school play. Brotherhood is very big in the fire service. Sisterhood, not so much. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe we are all tied up with our own lives. You will have a few close friends that truly understand, but beyond that, you are on your own.
Another thing I didn't realize was the fear. The fear is real. You know he is in a dangerous situation, then you hear there are firefighters injured. Your heart will beat out of your chest, and you will feel sick until you have confirmation that your guy is ok. Every call he goes on is dangerous. You will be afraid.
He will be distant sometimes. They see a lot of horrible things. Things we cannot imagine. He will want to protect you and not talk about it. He will be grumpy and short. You will not understand. Your relationship will suffer. You will be mad because he missed a date or dinner. You will express this disappointment and he will shake his head and say he is sorry. He won't tell you that the reason he is late is because he was doing CPR on a child. He will carry things with him that will break a normal person.
Firefighting is in his blood. It's his first love. His passion. Don't try and change him.
Being the wife of a fireman is far from glamours. It's hard. It's lonely. It's scary. You and your children will make sacrifices. There will never be a "normal" routine. You commit to sharing your husband with those in need. You will be jealous. You will be angry. You will sometimes be heartbroken.
With all that said, you will be proud. You will watch him move up the ranks. You will read newspaper articles about lives he saved. You will see him earn awards. You will see him follow his dreams. You will see a sparkle in your child's eyes as they tell people "my Daddy is a fireman."Your heart will swell with appreciation and love for him. His accomplishments and pride for what he does will make it all worth it. He is special. Everyday he puts others before himself. Love him. On his bad days love him harder. Listen to him. Be his person. He's your hero.