By noon on Saturday, the monsters informed me that they had seen fire crews pitching tents on the lawn of the high school. So, I talked to my monsters about what exactly it is that fire fighters do, why we needed so many of them, and why there were crews coming from all over creation to help. What an "incident site" is, and why they had to have neon orange road signs to direct out of town crews to it. (Very special thanks to one fire fighter in particular, who educated me about all this stuff many moons ago, and continues to amaze me with his experiences.)
We talked for quite a while, and during this talk, the word "hero" came up rather frequently. Not from me, but from my monsters. We had been watching helicopters with buckets, small planes, and large tanker planes flying back and forth all morning. We saw many, many trucks pass by. We saw buses full of fire fighters. And we talked about it all. And we made a decision.
Here are all these people: fire fighters, incident site staff, medical support, pilots, bus drivers, fuel crews, backhoe operators... all these many, many people working hard to keep us safe. They are away from home, away from their families... helping us. And we were humbled. So, because they were (and still are) working so hard for us, we needed to say thank you. But we didn't want to just walk into a very busy restricted area. That would be rude. And disruptive. So, we thought it might just be better if we made a few treats to show our appreciation, and dropped them off as quickly as possible so as not to be a distraction.
Sunday morning, bright and early, I got up, woke the monsters (only two managed to stumble out of bed, grab the cupcakes and head to the car, still in pajamas and with bed head) and we headed out. Because we live so close to the high school, it only took us about a minute to get there, and another minute to get out of the car with the goodies. We saw a couple guys standing around and asked where we should take the treats (I had nine paper plates stacked in my hands.. they reached from mid thigh to the top of my head, and #1 and #3 each had two boxes of cupcakes). They directed us to the trailer once again, so off we went.. and as we walked through the parking lot, we noticed a swarm of people gathering behind and around us.
When we reached the trailer, we asked again where we should put the treats. And then it happened. One fire fighter came up to #3 and asked if the treats were for them. When he said yes, the man asked his crew leader if he could take a box of cupcakes on the bus for the crew. And everything went quiet. The crew leader looked up and said, "Yes! They are from *insert reverent pause* The Community!" I swear to you that you could hear the capital letters at the beginning of his words.
And about that time, everyone exhaled and became happy. A woman came out of the trailer and told some people to get a table, paper and a marker so they (meaning me and the monsters) can write a note, tape to attach aforementioned note to aforementioned table.... and suddenly.. people were falling all over themselves to get it done. It was like they had found the Holy Grail.
These brave, tired fire fighters looked like kids at Christmas.. with shining eyes and everything, and we felt like Santa Claus. And every time one of them said thank you, my incredible monsters replied immediately, "No. Thank YOU for keeping us safe and working so hard." And so very many of our heroes said thank you. I was a proud, proud Momma.
The feeling in that parking lot, with all these people surrounding us, became festive. One man showed my #3 the map of the fire, how big it was, and the location, and "talked shop" with him. He felt very grown up.
I regret that it all happened so fast. I regret that I didn't get to take a picture. But our intent was that we not disrupt any more than necessary, so we quickly said goodbye. I was brought to tears by the humility of our real life heroes. I was, and still am, so very thankful I got to experience this. I will never forget it. And neither will #1 or #3.
To all fire fighter and support crews here and everywhere: Thank you. We did nothing extraordinary by bringing treats. But you do extraordinary things every day. Thank you. We will never forget you, and your response to us.