When we first saw the news about the devastating Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona at the end of June, we were horrified/amazed/overwhelmed/etc., but it was still ‘just’ a news story – the ‘just’ in here is important, as is its fleetingly appropriate use… Arizona isn’t that far from Waxing Poetic HQ, after all, and California is an equally flammable place in terms of native foliage/dry seasons/high winds. We are neighbors, and friends.
When we learned from one of our longest employees that a friend of hers from high school, Sean Misner of Santa Ynez, was one of the 19 brave members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots (the semi-official name of the inter-agency firefighting crew deployed to the scene) gave his life to stop the fire (and save the lives of countless others – humans, wildlife, pets, and passing strangers all alike…), it stopped being only a ‘story,’ or a ‘tragedy,’ but became, in an admittedly protracted way, familiar.
Nothing is ever ‘just’ a news item. No one is ever ‘just’ by themselves – and yet sometimes, too often maybe, we forget. Life is precious, fragile, and sometimes far too short. One might make the last part of that assertion is certainly the case for the firefighters who passed away in the Yarnell inferno, but we’d beg them to consider another possibility: that the heroes lost on that day weren’t lost so much as given, of their own will + selflessness, to the cause of life for everyone else.
Of Sean Misner, his friend and our Waxing Poetic comrade told us this:
He was kind. He was brave. He played football with her brother. He was always smiling. He liked to make people laugh. He made people’s days on a regular basis. He was the brightspot in her doldrums-of-summer summer job, as well as the bright spot in probably everyone’s job that summer at Los Olivos Grocery.
We also heard this:
He loved his wife, fiercely and deeply. He loved his job. He loved his family, his life, and his particular chances. He had found his own ‘worthy vocation’ in being a firefighter, and never once wanted to do anything else thereafter.
For Information about the Yarnell Emergency Fire Fund, please visit The United Way of Yavapai County.
The Worthy Vocations “Firefighter” Charm can be purchased here.