A few days before Father's Day last month, Brian and his fire team were called to Florida. He ended up being away for 20 days, which was probably the longest assignment in the last few years.
I'm grateful he was able to call us each day, though the time difference really made it challenging. We were often at Aidan's ball games from 8pm to 10pm, which made it midnight in Florida. Bri was working 16 hour days and usually asleep by then. So instead of our usual bedtime chat, we would talk at dinner or earlier in the day. He also sent us some photos via email of the wildlife he saw.
The swampland was completed dried out this year, leading to one of Florida's worst fire seasons ever. Two Florida State Division of Forestry fire fighters, Josh Burch and Brett Fulton, were killed fighting a fire about 20 miles from Brian's fire. I thought of them and their families (they each had two children) every time I walked past Brian's still unwrapped Father's Day gifts. My heart goes out to their families. Normally I don't let my mind even go there while Brian is away, but the tragic incident in Florida made that impossible this time.
Which made my heart even more grateful at this sight:
I think his absence was hardest on Nolan, who has been insisting "no more fires, Daddy!" ever since he got home. Aidan definitely missed having his own personal baseball coach in the backyard, though Bri made it home in time to join us in following Aidan's team to the state tournament. Sean skipped around the house out of happiness to have his dad home.
And even though our traditional Father's Day breakfast came three weeks late, I don't think it could have tasted any sweeter.