Author Cynthia Mills posed with Cade Legend Moyer for this photograph earlier this year.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Cynthia Mills
Burying one of our own…it’s a scenario no department wants to face, but most all departments train for anyways. No amount of training can ever prepare a fire family for the heartache of dealing with a death of their own, especially near the holidays. In our fire family’s case, this Christmas Eve will be spent at a cemetery, lying to rest one of our most beloved and most cherished family members: three-year-old Cade Legend Moyer, the son of one of our lieutenants.
This is hard. There are more descriptive phrases I could use, but nothing I could say would convey the magnitude of pain we all feel. As part of one of the most amazing fire families anywhere, we all hurt when one of us hurts this deeply. We all grieve the loss of this precious life. And on Christmas Eve, a day we should all be snuggling with our loved ones and preparing for Santa to arrive, we will all shed tears together. We will all stand together. We will do our best to hold up our lieutenant. We will grasp desperately at some sense of control over ourselves as we try to stay strong to support and hold up Cade’s mother. We, the fire family, will share our tears and pain and tatters of remaining strength with the Marines who will be present, representing Cade’s step-father and the love Cade had for both of his daddies.
In this way, we will keep from sinking into the ground ourselves. We might keep from losing our sanity completely as we repeatedly ask ourselves and ask God, “why?” We might be able to comfort each other in some way. I know though, that no matter how much I do to try and support Cade’s mom and dads, I will feel woefully inadequate. I will shed tears over and over and over again, but no amount of tears, no amount of prepared meals, or Christmas preparations, or hugs or words of encouragement or kindness will ever bring their baby boy back. I feel completely helpless to right what is wrong.
The most I can think to do to honor sweet Cade this Christmas Eve, is to wrap my family in my arms and offer to never let go. Of course, I will eventually let go, because life will continue in the world, despite the despair of this small group of people. I will make sure though, that before I ever do let go, my girls and my husband understand how deeply I love them; how blessed I feel to spend this life with them.
Even though most of you reading this don’t know Cade and don’t know our fire family, spend a moment honoring him too. Wrap your own family in your arms and make sure they know exactly how loved they are. In Cade’s dad’s own words, “It is the little, everyday things, like reading a book to him or cuddling up to watch a movie together,” that you will miss the most. These everyday things are too easily taken for granted. So when you say good night tonight, don’t shout it across the house. Draw your kids in close and breathe your love into their hair as you kiss them and squeeze them tight.
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