One minute you and your girlfriend are talking about getting married, you both feel that you’re sole mates and begin to joke and fantasize about how awesome it would be to be married and make a family. Next minute you’re missing vacations, missing parties, no more date nights and calling out sick at work to take care of a sick kid.
I know that my first true love was the Fire Service, I dated a few different girls throughout my first 7 years of being a fireman and couldn’t get any of them to understand how much I was in love with it. I met my wife in the fall of 2007, She admired that I was a Fireman, and even though I explained to her as I did all the other girls before that I had already been in a relationship with a love that had given me so much, a love that introduced me to passion and made me feel good about me, a love named the Fire Service. After hearing this one would think that my wife would’ve spilt, but no she appreciated that and encouraged me to do better. My wife has always supported me, she is the voice of reason when I’m too afraid to make a change, like making the move from New Jersey to Maine in order to get my first paid job, or transferring to another Fire House while she was 7 months pregnant with our first child.
On September 23, 2011 life happened, my best friend and at times my mentor said yes to me in front of our friends and family in a traditional Catholic/Jersey style wedding. Fast forward a year and a half, I come home from a hard day at work. I had come to my end, I felt that all the years dedicated to the thing I loved the most didn’t matter, I was losing my passion and needed a pick me up. On February 14, 2013 my wife hands me a Valentine’s Day card that says, “You’re going to be a Daddy!” Instant tears of joy ran down my face as I hugged my wife tighter than I ever did before. My wife who knew about my recent loss of passion and love for what I did said, “Is this bad timing? With everything going on with you and the Fire House, I just worry this is bad timing.” I said “No, this is the greatest news ever, everything going on before this moment no longer matters, you have made me the happiest I have been in a long time.” On September 26, 2013 life happened, our beautiful daughter Angela Marie was born and as I held her for the first time I whispered in her ear and thanked her for this opportunity. See becoming a Father is like getting a reset button, it gives us a new perspective and makes us want to do better. I instantly dedicated every move I would make from then on to her and my wife. With a new born daughter who is colic and not having any family around because you moved your new family to Central Pennsylvania and your entire Family is still in New Jersey, you tend to make sacrifices. You start to rsvp unable to attend to parties, you no longer go out to the movies or dinner for a date night with your wife, you spend most of your time fixing things, baby proofing the house and changing diapers. You have to call out sick from work because that precious little girl is running a fever, you teach her to crawl, to walk, to eat, to talk, to count and to route for the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Steelers because they’re Champions and she should aspire for nothing less than to be the same. You hold her tight as you get sworn in as Captain at your promotion ceremony and again reassure her as you whisper in her hear that you thank her for this opportunity… life is happening.
On June 26, 2015 my wife handed me a Birthday card that says, “You’re going to be a Daddy to baby number 2.” This news yet again came at a time where I was in the process of losing my motivation, losing my focus on my passion and started to forget why my first love was my first love. I hugged my wife and my daughter and said this is great news. I was scared at first, wondering how we were going to be able to afford things and the struggle it would be to have another child in our lives. Those were what some consider normal reactions, but as I sit here in the hospital room and look over at my new born while I write this, I realize those were selfish reactions. God has blessed me over and over in my life and yet I appeared blind in that instant about this new blessing. Yes life has its challenges but as I have been told and as I say to my men at work, “Great things are hard, and hard things are great.” If it wasn’t hard we wouldn’t appreciate it as much. This weekend she went into labor but before we rushed to the hospital my Brooklyn born/ Jersey raised Puerto Rican wife took a shower and got dolled up before she delivered our second child. On February 15, 2016 life happened, we welcomed the newest member of our team, Michael James. When they handed him to me I looked up to God and thanked him, I then whispered in Michael’s ear and thanked him for this opportunity. As I said in a blog I wrote before, I often listen to the song “Like Me” by Brad Paisley and I like it because though there have been times that I am not too proud of in my life and times where I allowed my ego to get the best of me, but the fact that I recognize that, the fact that I can still recognize what’s important in life is why I love that song, there’s a part where Brad Paisley sings “there’d worse folks to be like, oh he’ll be alright, if he’s anything like me.”
Life has happened to me, and I am grateful that it did. Life happened when I became a Volunteer Firefighter almost 15 years ago and became a part of the largest network aka Family and the world’s greatest team called Firefighters. Life happened when I found my partner, she understands my passion and supports me in my ventures. Life happened when I was given the opportunity to lead men, to be their brother and their coach, to have them entrust me to have their back at all times and have them have mine at all times. Life happened when I became a Father for the first time, when I held my little girl in my arms for the first time and was hooked. And life happened again when my son was born and I got to feel that same joy as I held him for the first time. I am glad life has happened to me, I’d be a pretty boring person if it didn’t. So here’s to life, let it continue to happen to us every minute, every hour and every day of our lives.
In all that you do, may God bless you and your family. Take care and stay safe!
Passion in Leading, LLC