First and foremost, Dawn Law the footwork you (and others) put into this coming to fruition is exemplary. As a member and long time supporter of this theory I wish to say welcome to all. For those that know me and those that don’t let me introduce myself.
I’ve been a “first responder” from the age of 15 so close to 31 years. I am a full time EMT, and have been for a very long time (over 25 years), I am a Navy corpsman (2002-2010), former paramedic, father, grandfather, widower, and husband.
Here's my story:
It’s been nearly 16 long years, maybe it’s time to let it out. I was 29 years old, a newlywed (3 years) husband, a father, and a go get them provider. I was working four EMS jobs, because back then we had to, with rarely a vast window to spend time with my wife.
I came home at 0630 (worked my overnight shift), got a shower and got ready for the 0800 shift a couple of towns over. Lisa rolled over and said something to me, so with her being awake we made dinner plans after work. I was doing a quick 10 and she had a training meeting so we were going to be home at around the same time. I actually had no shift planned that night, so we planned dinner and I forget what else, I think I was on my 4th or 6th 24 that week.
Anyway, I jumped in the car and off to work. Night shift was still out, when my partner arrived at 745 and a job dropped within two minutes, he hadn’t had time to start the coffee I bought for us on the way in. We got our balls kicked in that morning, that I remember. As we’re clearing the hospital for the 6th time, I get a phone call from my coordinator at my primary full time, asking what I was doing, wondering if I was working (I figured he was going to try to mandatory me); so I told him I where I was working, he said “ok, thanks” and hung up.
Now, the hospital is about 25 minutes from station, so “E” and I were bullshitting on the way back. As I said earlier, we got our ass kicked well before noon, so we were finally catching up. As, we approach the traffic light near our station, we notice two patrol cars from my hometown sitting out front of the Police station. I recall talking with Ed about how odd it was, but we paid it no mind. We get back, did our thing and while washing the truck three patrol cars(one local and two hometown) parked us in by blocking the apron. I remember the stoic face of the patrolman, whom is a friend, as he walked passed us and into the Chief’s office.
When Chief called me in her office, she asked me to sit on the “corrective action” sofa, I feared that sofa, as did many others. I digress, I recall the hometown officer asking odd questions, I remember questioning the reason for the questions, and that is when he told me; my wife, my best friend for nine years, my rock was gone. She had been killed in a head on crash, the opposing driver crossed the double yellow line, the car in front of her swerved, and she was struck with no reaction time . I recall being stunned, I recall being short of words, I believe I actually sat on the Chief’s sofa for a moment. I remember, arguing with the officers that I needed my car, because they wanted to drive me home, and finally one of them offered to ride with me to the house.
The following week was a blur; friends, relatives, co-workers, in and out for hours on end. I remember planning a funeral as opposed to my 30th birthday party. I remember telling the funeral director that I had to schedule the services the day after he wanted to do it because his choice was my birthday. Moving on, family slowly went back to their “normal” lives...... and that’s where my spiral began.
The memories began racing, the hole in the heart refused to heal, while we weren’t “getting along” we were trying. The empty house, the queen size cold bed, the missing
cuddle partner, the missing life I took for granted; had all begun to weigh on me. It started with a six pack, then 12, then 24, then the liquor in addition. Eventually I “slept” ok, maybe passed out for a little while. Then when I awoke the next morning, the sorrow and anger was still there, so I started the cycle all over again and this went on for a long time. I could hide it, hiding emotions came easy I doubt my friends or family knew how bad I was.
January, I left the area for military training for a few months. I thought I could run away from the demons, but in the quiet of free time they came back. Thoughts, ideas, the want to be whole again, it was all there. Visions of perfect harmony if I were to go with her, we would be one, once again. Thankfully, I fought them all. I’m not going to say I won in the least bit, I lost a lot personally trying to beat back the voices. Fast forward a handful of months, I threw myself into the pre-deployment activities of the Battery and Battalion to again help quell the afore mentioned activities. Eventually, the demons found me in the high desert of California, and I can thank my Marine and other Sailor friends for saving my life. I lived to dry out to serve them and the mission, and it worked.
When I came home, I had a new found mission. I went back to work at the station I was at on that fateful day. I remembered who my friends were, they welcomed me back with open arms; and with their help I began to rebuild myself and my life. I was introduced to one of the employees that was hired in my absence, she was this cute nursing student working for us part time. Things progressed, flirting, shifts together, blah blah blah, and around Christmas time I invited her to the house for drinks on a bet, strangely enough she showed up 45 minutes later.
I have slowly been on “the mend” over the last 13 years, Tara has helped me shake the bottle, she gives me my space, she gives me my quiet cuddle time, and above all she gave me another reason to carry on, another daughter.
I have become a supporting member of “code green” and “project semicolon” because of my struggle. I am living proof of the facade we are as providers. We wear our shells so others can’t see our soft and gooey insides (like a cadbury egg). I have begun to use my repair to help others, while we are strong, we are also people, humans, and we all have that dark corner we don’t talk about. With that, I’ll wrap up my ramblings.
For the last 27 years I have been an EMS provider, a father, a husband, a friend, a Sailor, and a widower. I have become a mentor, an Ear, a Shoulder, a sounding board, and a hug machine. Live each day for you, and those around you.
Speak up and sound off if you need help.. Love you all in different ways.
Roy C. Himes, Jr.
Senior Emergency Medical Technician
County of Gloucester, New Jersey
Department of Emergency Response
Emergency Medical Services Division
R.C. “Doc Fester” Himes
Hospital Corpsman, Third Class
United States Navy 2002-2010