by Robert R. Devonshire, Jr
Firefighter and PTSD Survivor
Pinned on my badge, tighten my duty belt.
Checked my weapon, a quick prayer as I knelt.
Sat in on the briefing, ready to hit the street.
Talked to my partner, headed out on the beat.
Replayed the argument, again in my head.
Forgot to tell her I love her, regret what I said.
Radio cracks, shots fired is the call.
Lights and sirens, we rush to it all.
Officer arrived, confirms someone’s down.
Push the car harder, through the center of town.
Radio cracks, officer needs help.
From the back seat, a bark and a yelp.
Arrive a block out, hear the sounds of a shot.
Head up the street, my dog at full trot.
Don’t let him see us, crouch behind a car.
I see the shooter, now not that far.
Shots ring out, falls to the ground.
Release the dog, heart starts to pound.
Watch in slow motion, roll to my right.
Dog hits the shooter, there’s hardly a fight.
Sting in my shoulder, I roll to my back.
Time moves slower, perimeter grows black.
Her face appears, shy smile warm eyes.
The day that I met her, why is she here.
Burn in my shoulder, not so clear.
Echoes of voices, focus on the face.
Confusion and fear, where is this place.
The smell of her hair, soft of her skin.
Someone is yelling, not sure where I’ve been.
Pain, trouble breathing, chest feels hot.
Hear the words, you’ve been shot.
Night closes in, sense the presence of my wife.
Visions before me, scenes of my life.
Flashes of pictures, not memories but real.
Doctors and nurses, feels so surreal.
Dreams and memories, like movies of me.
Don’t understand, what is it I see?
Voices I hear, not sure who they are.
Can’t see who is talking, can’t reach that far.
Eyes now open, my kids and my wife.
What am I watching, looking down on my life.
I call out and reach, no answer she didn’t hear.
Confusion fades, replaced with fear.
Gentle hand, touches my head.
Clarity question, what was it he said?
Come with me, you’ll be ok.
I can’t remember, what did he say?
I turn to look, angelic face.
Wings like an angel, my mind starts to race.
Looking around, how can this be?
I just can’t grasp the things that I see.
I turn once more, not ready to go.
So much to say, she cries out “NO”!
Voice in my head, “she will be ok”.
“No need to worry, you’ll meet again one day”
Lots left undone, so much to say.
No second chance, no extra day.
Time to go, one regret.
Tell her I love her, why did I forget.
Devonshire – 2012
About the Author: Robert R. Devonshire, Jr. is a Past Fire Chief of the Strasburg Fire Co #1 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Robert has written several articles that have appeared in Firehouse and Fire Chief Magazines and has presented “Working with your local fire department” at the National Facilities Management and Technology (NFMT) conference in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a PTSD survivor with a 27 year career as a volunteer firefighter/EMT. He currently runs the Facebook site Firefighter PTSD as Editor in Chief.