No racing, no reports of racing......it all jst doesn't seem very important right now......Its been a tough few days. Myself and 100 or so other firefighters are trying to make sense of losing a friend, coworker and most of all, a brother. There are of course countless friends and family reeling from losing someone near and dear to them as well.
I recieved a horrible phone call this past saturday evening. A friend and firefighter called to tell me that Craig had past away earlier in the day. This came from out of nowhere. Craig was a 30 year old strong athletic guy who was seemingly in great health. Other than rehabbing from a shoulder surgery over the last few months, there was nothing to make one think that craig wasn't going to live a long and healthy life.
I met craig in the late summer of 1999. we both wee enrolled in JCCC emt program. although 8 years older, we were both beginning new lives working towards becoming firefighters. Finishing EMT class we then were both enrolled in the firefighter I and II class the next semester. Hanging out with the same group of fireman to be friends I got to know a little bit about Craig. TO keep it short....Craig was one of those guys that people seemed to be drawn to. Just a super person with endless amounts of potential. Low and behold, a couple of months later we found ourselves going for and competing for the same job openings. Instead of becoming rivals, we began to workout a little together. Hell, we even carpooled to a couple of those job interviews. One being where we have both worked the last 8 some odd years. We were both hired and attended the same recruit academy together. Actually we were assigned to the same shift as well. A couple of years on the job i was reassigned to the very station Craig had been first assigned to. We were now crewmates. After a couple of years together Craig was reaasigned to another station. He had spent a year completing and going thru JCCC's paramedic program. I think people on the department were blown away by how and how easily craig had rolled thru the paramedic stuff. I wasn't. I had been around craig long enough to know how hard he worked..How much it meant to him to become a firefighter and how much he had dedicated to become a paramedic as well. Craig was laid back on the surface, but once you got to know him, you realised how important the job was to him. He was a extremly smart and motivated individual. I truly admired the qualities in him. he pushed me, just being around him those couple of early years we spent working towards our ultimate goal of being firefighters. I am just sorry it took something like this to appreciate that about Craig. He was a friend and brother, and i am truly devastated by his passing. I am not alone in those feelings, which i am not sure if this comforts me or makes me all the more sad. To see so many people hurting....that breaks my heart.
Below is a email i wrote to my fellow firefighters.....i thought i might share it.
Cycling isn't the end all, but it is an outlet to deal with lifes' curveballs.....
From: Josh Taylor Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 7:19 PMTo: FiremedSubject: saying goodbye....
Accidententally sent this out before I completed it……then 2nd time around I only sent it to my self…….i am not fully functioning on all cylinders.
Brothers and sisters,
Not completely sure why I am writing this or really even what to say. I guess I felt compelled to say something. Writing seemed easier than verbally conveying my feelings I guess. I don’t think I would be able to put more than a couple of sentences together before I lost it anyway.
Like many of you I’m sure, I have gone thru a wide range of emotions over the last few days. From the initial phone call from jimmy on Saturday evening, I’ve tried to make sense of it. The initial response to Jimmy’s words were of course, disbelief. No way was something like this possible. It just seemed like a horrible joke or a bad dream. Once jimmy and I hung up on each other, I had this need to share this horrible news with somebody. I had to call somebody that I felt should know, or would want to know. After a couple of brief phone calls, I received a call from someone else repeating to me the same message I had already received and had been relaying to others. Jesus! It hit me. I had to hang up, because I didn’t want to start balling on the phone. I went upstairs to my wife and hugged her and tried to tell her that a friend and brother had died today. God that was hard. Because now I wanted to know why, and how?
I mean, don’t we all. I know in the end it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how we leave this world. At least not to the one’s that are left behind. All that matters is that person is gone. Now I find myself trying to not be angry. Angry that a life was cut short. I also am finding myself fighting back the waves of sadness. I am sad that our friend won’t get to live the life that he was making with his beautiful girlfriend.
I think most of all, I am just plain heartbroken for the people our friend has left behind. From family to friends, there are a bunch of people broken up and struggling with a big loss in the lives. A sister, mother, aunts and uncles, friends, bestfriends and most of all…………………………………………………………..craig’s girlfriend Janine. I am at loss as to how someone in her shoes begins to pick up the pieces. My heart breaks for her. Just thinking of the days and weeks she has ahead of her makes me want to cry. That about sums up to whole deal. My heart is broken for her and for the guys and girls here in Lawrence, who some how have to continue to pull their boots up and go to work. There are a lot of heavy hearts here at the Larwence Fire Department, and that makes me incredibly sad. Never could I have imagined showing up to work here and finding it difficult to say ‘hello, how ya doin’ to guys and girls I have worked with for almost eight years. That is exactly how it has been today. Briefly saying hello but not talking too long, because I am afraid I will break down in front them. Hell, just riding M4 with Armenta has been tough. we get to talking about him and I have to stop and look away to fight back tears. I thought initially that with so many of feeling the same or similar loss, it would be easier here at work today. It has been just the opposite though. Everywhere I turn, I see someone else who is hurting……………………man.
So I’ll say this. To all of those hurting, to all of those with heavy or broken hearts, to my brothers and sisters………………….what do you say? What can you say? I’ll miss Craig too, I will truly miss him………..
Goodbye Craig Yeager, my brother……………………Godspeed
Steve Tilford Eulogy
11 months ago