FIT@50 / week 24
It’s A Date:
When I chose today as my retirement date, I never considered the historical significance it shared with another event that forever changed my life and worldview – Hurricane Katrina.
Today’s the day I leave the one job I’ve had my entire adult life. I will miss so many things about it. Mostly, I’ll miss leaving an anchor, that despite unbelievably chaotic and risky times, also served to center and shape who I am.
How will I feel at 5:01pm today? I have no idea. How did I feel at 5:01pm ten years ago? I felt like I do right now – that no matter what circumstances may come, I’m completely prepared to handle the mission. Not because of my ability, but because of my faith.
Ten years ago, as the worst natural disaster raged against my Gulf of Mexico boarded parish, I was assigned to command emergency preparedness. Neither bags of ice nor evacuees moved without my sending the okay.
It was the most horrible, yet fulfilling time of my life. Where better to be, than in the eye of Hurricane Katrina? Ground zero for rescue and recovery became all I knew for months.
The weeks in New Orleans’ metro area leading our SWAT unit showed me less about bravado, and all about compassion. I witnessed hardened men – modern day warriors, sling their machine guns to carry children, pets or the elderly. We bonded together against the federal bureaucracy to do what was right over what was regulated. We made life changing decisions during life ending encounters, but alway with life-saving hopes.
It was hell on earth, but what better place to be to have your faith tested by fire? It’s never further away than a thought or a comment, but nothing comes easy right? This and the thousands of crisis encounters during a single career are why we do the job. They’re also why we hurt. Why some crack. Why some cease to exist.
It’s ironic sitting here typing today’s fit report as Liliana Hart is next to me working on her own projects. She couldn’t ever imagine what that was like. But as someone I love, I never have and never will tell her what it was like or what we went through. Some experiences can be seen in the faces of those who endured – no words needed.
I’d like you to watch this video put together by a dear friend of mine, Rachelle Hitt Bilbo. This was created during the week Katrina slammed us. It’s what I’ve learned and always tried to practice throughout my career and life – human compassion.
Maybe I’ll check in after 5:01pm to tell you what it feels like. Chances are my feelings won’t become clear for some time, but what I do know is that the first moments in my new life will be spent with my family.
FIT@50 / week 24