My Next Chapter In Life

The haze of my past seems to engulf me tonight as I think about my next chapter in life. My spirit echoes within the confines of nostalgia as I meander down the path of my history. It seems like just yesterday when the clanging bell of the fire station sent my pulse racing. The racing thrill of riding the red engine, the weight of the gear on my shoulders, the primal fear of the flickering, licking flames, and the exhilaration of saving lives—that all-encompassing sensory overload is etched into every fiber of my being.

Structure Fire At Pilgrim Holiness Church
Middleburgh, New York, USA
May 26, 2009

Firefighting—it’s a tough gig, no doubt, but for a woman, it carried extra baggage. The scrutiny, the patronizing stares, the underestimations. Every day was a fight, not just against the fire, but against a conflagration of societal prejudice. But my resilience, tenacity, the desire to make a difference kept me going. In the process, I defied the glass ceiling but perhaps took for granted the one beneath my feet.

However, the voice of my body can no longer be silenced. The creaking knees, the twinge in my back, the slow but steady depletion of my strength—I am beginning to feel the toll of the years of grueling physical demands I subjected myself to. I always thought myself as invincible, fighting against the elements, saving lives. But here I am, my own body proving me wrong.

I need to accept that I am no longer that tireless young woman who was up at the first sound of the siren, ready to combat any challenge that lay ahead. It’s time I started treating myself with the kindness I have so long denied, nurturing myself back to health, and living as though I am made of glass. Fragile, yes, but precious too, worthy of careful handling.

Perhaps it’s not just about physical care. It’s also about redefining strength. Maybe it’s not just about carrying people out of burning buildings anymore. Maybe it’s also about carrying my own body with grace, respect, and dignity. Recognizing the courage in admitting that I am not indestructible.

So, tomorrow, I’ll wake up a little slower, savor the sun a little longer, sip my coffee a little gentler, stretch my body with a little more care, and tell Amelia I love her more often. Tomorrow, I’ll start a new journey—of listening to my body, understanding its signals, its pleas for rest, its demand for gentler pursuits.

There’s a different sort of power in this, I think, in recognizing our vulnerabilities, in accepting that our bodies are not machines, but delicate vessels that need care and attention. I may no longer be the firefighter charging into the blaze, but that doesn’t make me any less courageous, any less strong. Just differently so.

Here’s to a new chapter, of taking better care of my body, and living like I’m made of glass.

July 25, 2023

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