The events of the last week are heartbreaking - first Boston, then West - both equally terrifying and personal. Personal because after the titles of mother and wife, I also carry the label of firefighter... athlete... paramedic...
At first I had something to do: make sure my entire team and their loved ones were all right. In the chaos that ensued after the explosions in Boston, it took some time. So we waited... And we talked... And we started the healing process.
Then, before we could begin to really understand what had happened in Boston, another tragedy, this one much closer to home for me.
When I first read that email "explosion, firefighters were onscene when it happened" my heart went cold. Over the next several hours, we began to find out the staggering enormity of the event, and how hard the first responder community had been hit.
Texas is a big state, but as a firefighter, it's a very small world. Everyone knows everyone or one of their friends in the fire service. We feel each loss personally.
I spent the next day getting involved in small ways from a distance.
It wasn't until Saturday that I found out that the Westboro Baptist Church had announced on twitter that they were planning on being at the funerals here in Texas. All I could think was " Oh no you don't. Not my family!"
That's probably when all the emotions, all the stress, all the activity, and the grief of the past week overflowed.
Now, if you'll excuse me for a moment, to wax spiritual...
I firmly believe that when I stand before my maker, I will be left with two things: the intent of my actions while during my life, and the results of my actions. Not results as in I did well in a race. Results as in how I affected people, how I made them feel.
I pray that on the day the people who picket funerals meet their maker, they feel the anguish - the horror, hurt and helplessness -that they have caused in other. That is Hell. An eternity of perfect knowledge of the pain caused to others.
Today I saw a picture of Bostonians blocking the roads to anyone that would cause more pain to those who have lost, and I applaud you, Boston.
Texas - we just finished one awful, traumatic week. But I think we will find strength in our brotherhood to shelter those who have lost from even more pain.
A few observations from this week...
The bombings in Boston were aimed at spectators and runners. But runners and their families, especially marathoners, and most especially those at Boston know how to rise from the dark places.
We saw some absolutely amazing people rise above the call of being human: several people leapt into action to save a another's life, a police officer brought a family in Boston milk when the city was on lockdown, a city banded together to protect their own.
And while there were still people making dumb statements on social media, or insulting police or first responders, many people got a glimpse via social media into a world that isn't all glory.
But there will always be a need for fire and police, just as there will always be a need for communities to come together in times of tragedy.
And there's one more label I should add to the ones I listed at the beginning of this post- American. This week has brought out the best in Americans in reacting to immeasurable challenges.