The early morning came up lavender, putting the stars to bed and filling the sky with gently glowing light. I thought about the weekend I spent visiting my mom, catching up with one of my closest friends, and visiting the places I used to know so well.
I met up with my friend Andrew at the local diner in Middleburgh, New York. Andrew and I have known each other since he was 18. We met when we were both active in the fire department, and over the years we became close friends. For whatever reason, common trauma brings people together; Andrew and I were a team, and through our shared experiences in the fire department, we saved each other countless times.
Our first stop was at the Dunkin’ Donuts where my crew and I would get coffee. I treated Andrew to a drink of his choice, as he had bought us both breakfast at the diner that morning.
After we finished our drinks, I suggested that we make a stop at the overlook at John Boyd Thacher State Park. Here I am sitting on the wall of the overlook while Andrew was looking at something on his phone.
Our last stop of the day was the reason for our visit. I first met Andrew when he was 18 and brand new in the Fire & Rescue service. It was here that Andrew job shadowed me, where he eventually became Licensed as a Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. Some years later, we were both promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. They asked me not to touch the fire truck outside, but I couldn’t resist and I did anyway.
The idea that people come together because they share common traumatic experiences might seem counterintuitive. The thought is that people who have shared trauma form strong bonds through their shared pain and also by supporting one another. When we find someone else who understands, it’s much easier to talk about our experience, and feel less isolated in the process. It’s easier to know that we’re not alone in the world and there is someone who feels what we feel. And those feelings can be both painful and healing at the same time.