For personal use and select distribution only © by Addmom
DISCLAIMER: "Emergency!" and its characters © Mark VII Productions, Inc. and Universal Studios. All rights reserved.
The poems and songs used in
this story do not belong to me. I have indicated the singer/writer of
I am in no way connected to the medical profession and take responsibility for all mistakes in dealing with treatments, diseases, etc.
The Station 51 Family New Year’s gathering was in full swing. It was really the weekend after New Year’s Eve, but most of the firefighters had pulled holiday duty and this was the first chance they had to get together. Most of the talk centered on the plans for Jenny and Allen Robinson’s wedding that would be taking place in a little over a month.
Johnny saw that Joanne was standing in the doorway watching with a wistful look on her face. He thought he also saw a little fear there, too. Wondering what could be wrong, he slowly made his way to her side. “Are you alright, Joanne?”
Joanne looked at her friend. She hadn’t even had a chance to talk to Roy yet, but she really needed to talk to someone. She didn’t want to ruin the party and she really needed someone to help her tell Roy. “No, Johnny, I’m not.”
Although he had seen the looks on her face, Johnny really wasn’t expecting the answer he received. “Is there something I can help you with?”
“Yeah, can I talk to you for a minute?” Joanne turned to walk into the kitchen so they would have some privacy.
Nicole had been on her way to the kitchen to get some more drinks. “I’ll get them, honey.” Johnny stopped her at the door.
“Ok, please bring some water for the kids. It is getting late and I think we’d better stop their intake of pop.” Nicole had seen Joanne go into the kitchen and had a feeling that Johnny was going to talk to her.
“Ok. I’ll be out in a few minutes.” Johnny smiled as Nicole leaned down to give him a kiss.
“Joanne, what’s wrong?” Johnny wheeled over next to Joanne who had sat down at the kitchen table.
Johnny and Nicole were putting the finishing touches on the dinner table waiting for Roy and Joanne to join them for Sunday dinner. Jenny and Allen had offered to take the Gage and DeSoto kids—with Mayan’s help—for the afternoon. Joanne had told Jenny she needed to talk to her Dad, Johnny and Nicole. Johnny, with Joanne’s permission, had told Nicole after the gathering the night before what Joanne had shared with him. Now they would be there for support when Joanne told Roy.
Nicole took a deep breath, gave Johnny a kiss and went into the living room when Roy and Joanne entered. The DeSotos and Gages had long ago stopped ringing the doorbell or knocking when entering each others’ homes—they were after all family.
“Hi, guys. How was your day?” Nicole smiled as their friends made themselves comfortable on the sofa.
Johnny brought in coffee for all of them. “Hi. Glad to see you.”
“Hi, Johnny, Nicole—it is great to see you, too.” Roy smiled at his friends. For the next few minutes, talk centered around the kids.
“Roy, I have something I need to talk to you about. I hope you don’t get mad at me for sharing it with Johnny first, but I needed a shoulder to lean on and someone to give me some support when I tell you.” Joanne was blabbering and she knew it, but she was nervous.
“I could never get mad at you. Please just tell me what you need to tell me.”
“Roy, this week I had a checkup with Dr. Martoni. I have been tired and having a little trouble with my coordination. They ran some tests and he called me with the results yesterday. Johnny noticed my mood and asked me about it. Roy, the tests are showing that I have multiple sclerosis.” Joanne had been hesitant to say the word hoping that if she didn’t, she would wake up from this nightmare.
“Multiple Sclerosis?” Roy didn’t quite believe what he had just heard. “What did they say about it?”
“Yes, honey. The doctor says I have the most common form of MS. I will have flare-ups followed by periods of partial or complete recovery—remissions. My life expectancy is normal and they are 99% sure that I will not become severely disabled. I will make it.”
“We’ll all get through this together. After all, we made it through our accident and we have each other.” Johnny knew how this news would affect his friend.
“Yeah, we’ll make it together.” Roy knew that he would have the strength to help his wife.
“I think dinner is ready. Let’s talk about the future and what it holds over dinner.” Nicole could hear the slight tremor in Roy’s voice. “We’ll all get through this together.”
Johnny and Nicole had convinced Roy and Joanne that they had to tell the rest of the “family” sooner rather than later. Joanne had wanted to wait until after Jenny’s wedding to break the news, but Nicole had made them see that it really wasn’t fair to keep it from her and that she would definitely be upset with them for not telling her sooner.
It was the morning of Jenny’s wedding. Roy and Joanne had been trying to get a few minutes alone with Johnny and Nicole to thank them for the support they had shown over the last few weeks. They had been there to take over any of the details if needed, but stayed in the background when they were not needed. But Nicole and Johnny had disappeared and no one knew for sure where they were at. As they headed towards the church, Roy wondered where they were.
Roy couldn’t believe it—Jennifer was getting married. He knew that he was not losing a daughter, but gaining a wonderful son-in-law. He thought back over his life and the number of times he had hoped his kids would not want to follow in his footsteps—he knew the agony Joanne felt every time he walked out the door. He had hoped Chris would find another line of work and Jennifer would marry a doctor or lawyer. But Chris had become a fine paramedic and Jennifer was marrying one of the fire department’s best engineers, a member of Marco’s crew. The more he thought about it, the more he realized he really wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Unlike Chris’s wedding, Roy was not tongue-tied when it came to telling his little girl how he really felt. He knew that was because Johnny had taken him aside at the rehearsal dinner the night before and asked him how he was doing. Johnny seemed to know what to say and any fears or nerves Roy may have had were laid to rest.
The wedding was beautiful. Jennifer had chosen a pale yellow and a pale green as her colors. She wore her mother’s wedding dress and carried a small Bible with orchids. Roy had never seen her so beautiful. Allen was dressed in a dark green tux and couldn’t take his eyes off his bride. Roy could blame him.
As he walked his daughter down the aisle towards her soon-to-be husband, Roy looked over and saw the trademark lop-sided grin Johnny wore. Seeing his friend sitting in a wheelchair tugged at Roy’s heart. It had taken Chet to bluntly tell him that Johnny would never have the privilege he was enjoying right now for Roy to even think about what his friend had sacrificed that day to save his life. He was walking with a limp so slight that unless you were really looking for it, you couldn’t tell it was there. Johnny would have to escort his daughters in a wheelchair.
Johnny knew what was going through Roy’s mind when he saw the look of regret pass over Roy’s face. When Roy had given Jennifer away and sat down next to him, he leaned over and quietly whispered in Roy’s ear. No one knew what Johnny said to Roy that day, but the grin that broke out on his face went from ear to ear. It replaced the sad smile that Roy seemed to wear the last couple of days.
Roy’s attention was abruptly pulled to the front when he heard the minister ask for him and Joanne to join them on the platform. The one thing that had puzzled both Joanne and Roy was when Jenny and Allen asked Joanne to wear an elegant short white dress and Roy to wear a tuxedo to match Allen’s. Now they were being asked to stand up front. With a slight shrug, Roy helped Joanne to her feet. Then Roy noticed the big grin plastered on Johnny’s face grow bigger and knew that he was somehow involved in whatever was going on.
“Allen and Jenny have asked Roy and Joanne to join them today because they would like Roy and Joanne to renew their vows as they recite theirs for the first time. This summer Roy and Joanne will celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary, but Jenny wanted everyone to see the love and strength they give each other. Just a few weeks ago they were given the news that Joanne has been diagnosed with MS. But Jenny and Allen have been inspired by the way they have approached this and want you to see it, too.”
Jenny leaned over and hugged her parents. Allen knew that they were probably feeling a little nervous and turned to two people he respected deeply. “Please do us the honor of sharing this special day with us.”
As Roy and Joanne could only nod, the minister started the ceremony none of them would ever forget.
“Friends and loved ones, we are here in the presence of God, today to share with Jenny and Allen as they pledge their lives to each other forever and Roy and Joanne as they renew their love for each other. Today they will face the future together as one, accepting whatever may lie ahead. Jenny and Allen, Roy and Joanne will tell you that nothing is easier than saying the words and harder than living them day after day. Each day for the rest of your lives you will need to renew and reaffirm the promises you make today. At the end of this ceremony legally you will be man and wife, but each day you must decide that you want to make that promise anew. Roy and Joanne, you have made that decision every day for almost 27 years and have been a wonderful example for your family and friends. But, as you know, you need to keep making that decision every day in the future.
Jenny and Allen, you have a great example of real love in Roy and Joanne. It doesn’t mean their lives are perfect and without trials and tribulations. These last few week shave been an example of that. It doesn’t mean there aren’t times when they are angry or upset with each other. Real love is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your marriage partner as much as about your own. It is not being totally absorbed in each other; it is looking outward and walking in the same direction--together. Love makes burdens lighter, because you divide them, joys more intense because you share them. It makes you stronger so you can reach out and become involved with life in ways you dared not risk alone. No other human ties are more tender, no other vows are more sacred than those you are about to make. You are entering into the holy estate which is the deepest mystery of experience, and which is the very sacrament of divine love. Now as you stand in the presence of God, you must remember the responsibilities of a Christian man and wife.
“Having chosen each other as partners for life, you may now join hands.”
The two couples standing on the platform joined hands and faced their respective mates.
“Allen, Roy, God has appointed the man to be the spiritual head, responsible provider and initiator of love in a marriage. With His help, your strength must be the protection Jenny and Joanne seeks, your character their pride and your life the haven for which they long.
“Jenny, Joanne, God's purpose for you is that you be a loving wife, and tenderly respond to Allen’s and Roy’s love with a deep sense of understanding, through a great faith in Christ who brought you together.
“Allen and Jenny, as you start your life together you need to remember that a Christian marriage is not living merely for each other; it is two uniting and joining hands to serve God; to become one in Him. As you face each new day do not expect your mate to be perfect, perfection belongs only to God. Don’t minimize each other's weaknesses, but always be swift to praise and magnify each other's points of strength and beauty. Look at each other through kind and patient eyes. Learn from the example your parents have set before you from your childhood.
“God will lead you into each situation as well bless you and develop your characters as you walk together with Him. He will give you enough tears to keep you tender, enough hurts to keep you compassionate, enough of failure to keep your hands clenched tightly in His, and enough success to make you sure to walk with Him.
“No matter what happens on the long road ahead don’t ever take each other's love for granted. You have seen how the love Roy and Joanne have has grown each day as they treat themselves and each other with respect every moment of every day. As they have, you need to show each other the love that says ‘I have chosen you,’ and experience the wonder that you have been chosen by your mate. When life is done, may you be found then as now, hand in hand, still thanking God for each other. May you ever serve Him happily, faithfully, together until you return to glory or until at last one shall lay the other into His arms.
“As you face each frustration, difficulty and fear that will assail your relationship at times, remind yourselves of the love God has given you for each other and what brought you together. Focus on that love and the strength God will provide and not only on the things that seem wrong. With His strength and your love for each other, you can face the storms and trials in your life together.
“ Allen, please tell Jenny how you feel.”
“I, Allen Stephen Robinson, wish to take you Jennifer Lynn DeSoto as my wedded wife. The honor that you have given me to let me stand by you through whatever may come and to protect you is one that I will cherish forever. I will make whatever adjustments are necessary so that we can share our lives as one, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony. I will love you, respect you, be honest with you always, comfort you, honor and keep you, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others keeping myself only for you so long as we both shall live. Jenny, the first time I realized I loved you, I didn’t think I could love you any more. However, each day my love for you has grown stronger and deeper. I am standing before all these witnesses and God pledging my life to you for the rest of our lives. God has given you to me to be my partner and I will thank Him for that every day. There is a song that I have asked Johnny and Nicole to sing that reminds me of your parents’ love and I hope can one day be sung about us.”
Johnny and Nicole had made their way to the front and sang the song that Allen had requested.
Grow Old With Me
By Mary Chapin Carpenter
Grow old along with me
The best is yet to be
When our time comes
We will be as one
God bless our love
Grow old along with me
Two branches from one tree
Face the setting sun
When the day is done
God Bless our love
Spending our lives together
Husband and wife together
World without end
Grow old along with me
Whatever fate decrees
We will see it through
For our love is true
God Bless our love
Allen then took over where he left off. “You are my soul mate and complete me. Our love is pure and unconditional. You are in my heart to stay forever. You are my heart song. Today I promise you I will stand beside you to be your strength as we face whatever lies ahead of us. As we start down this road together with my hand in yours and both our hands in God’s, we are no longer two halves; we become one. As we face the future, our strength will be in our walk with God and dependence on Him. We will face life’s joys and trials as one. We will not always agree, but I will listen to your views, your opinions, your feelings and I will openly share mine with you. There will be times of storm in our relationship, but with God’s help and strength, my love for you will never change or falter. Instead it will grow minute by minute. I ask God right now to help me be the kind of husband He wants me to be for you, to be your strength—your leaning post and the head of our home because today I marry my best friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love. Today we become one.”
“Jenny, please tell Allen how you feel.”
“I, Jennifer Lynn DeSoto, am so thankful that God has seen fit to let you, Allen Stephen Robinson, be my wedded husband. As we face whatever may come, know that I will be honest with you always and stand by you. I will be there to support you wherever God leads us. I will make whatever adjustments are necessary so that we can share our lives as one, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony. I will love you, comfort you, honor and keep you, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keeping myself only for you so long as we both shall live. Allen, today is the first day of the rest of the life that is no longer mine alone, but ours together. As you said today we are two halves that have come together to make one whole. We start this journey together today in front of family, friends and God. Today our hearts are entwined never to part but only grow in strength each day we spend together. I join my hand with yours in God’s as He gives His love, strength and grace to see us through whatever lays ahead for us. He has promised to never leave us. We will walk this path with Him as our guide. Because of God’s love and strength, I pledge you my undying love. I promise my support and strength as we take this journey one step at a time. I will stand beside you, working with you. You are my heart song, my soul mate and I will listen to you. I will share my feelings, thoughts, needs and desires with you. I ask the Lord right now to help me be your helpmeet because as you said today I marry my best friend—the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love. Today we become one.”
“I know that this is short notice, but Roy, would you like to tell Joanne how you feel?”
With a quick nod, Roy knew that he wanted everyone to know how much he loved the woman standing before him.
“Joanne, you have given me 26½ wonderful years. Because of your love and support, I have become the man who stands before you today. I am privileged to be your husband and to be the one who has the honor to protect you. As we face the future, I will continue to stand beside you, continue to make whatever adjustments are necessary so that we can continue to share our lives as one, to continue living the life God’s ordinance has lain before us. Joanne, listening to Allen and Jenny today has brought back wonderful memories of the day you said you would be mine forever. I promised you then that I would love, honor, and cherish you for the rest of our lives. With God’s help, I have kept that promise and now I want to renew that promise to you. I will continue to love you, respect you, be honest with you, comfort you, honor and keep you, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keeping myself only for you for the rest of our lives. You are my heart song and I will do whatever I need to do to keep that song alive. As we face the hard times ahead, I will be beside you every step of the way. As God holds us close in the palm of His hand, I will hold you close in my heart. May God give us many more wonderful years ahead to let our love continue to grow. I too, renew my marriage vows to my best friend—the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love.”
“Joanne, would you like to tell Roy how you feel?”
Joanne smiled at the minister and nodded. “You may not talk a lot, but when you do, you say the most wonderful things.” Everyone laughed as Roy turned beet red. “Roy, it seems like just yesterday we were standing before a minister on our wedding day. I loved you so much then and I knew that you loved me. I never dreamed that our love would continue to grow stronger and deeper every day. But it has over the last 26½ years and I know that it will continue to grow over the next 26½ or more years. As we face the future and all the trials, tribulations and blessings that will be ours, I will continue to be honest with you always and continue to stand by you and support you wherever God leads us from here. I will continue to make the adjustments that will help us to continue sharing our lives as one, continuing to live after God’s ordinances for marriage. I will continue to love you, comfort you, honor and keep you, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keeping myself only for you for the rest of our lives. Roy, I thank God every day for your love and for each day He gives us to let our love grow. Before all our family, friends and God, I renew my pledge to you that I will be there to stand beside you no matter what lies ahead of us. You are the other half of my heart and may the next 26½ years will be as wonderful as the last 26½ years. I pledge you my support, my ear, and my undying love as tonight I renew my vows to my best friend—the one I laugh with, live, for dream with, love.”
“Allen, what token do you give to show your love?”
“Place the ring on Jenny’s finger.”
“Jenny, as I place this ring on your finger, its perfect symmetry is a symbol of our perfect love. It has no beginning and no ending, a symbol of the eternal commitment we have made to each other today. This ring is made of precious metal. You also are precious in God's sight and now in my love. When we are absent from each other, the presence of the ring reminds us to be faithful to and to fulfill our vows to each other. This ring is my pledge to you of my undying love and unending faithfulness as long as we both shall live. May this ring be a permanent reminder of our holy promises and steadfast love, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
“Jenny, what token do you give to show your love?”
“Place the ring on Allen’s finger.”
“Allen, this ring is a seal of my vow to you. Take this ring as a seal upon the marriage vows I have spoken, and as you wear it, may it be a reminder of how much I love you, not only on this precious day, but every single day of your life. I present this to you as a token of my submission to you in Jesus Christ. As this ring encircles your finger from this day forward, year in and year out, so will my love ever encircle your heart. This ring is round and has no end, so is my love unto my friend."
“Roy and Joanne, you are both wearing wedding bands that you presented to each other on your wedding day. Would you like to say something today?”
“Joanne, the day we were married I gave you a wedding ring as a token of my love. That ring encircles your finger as my love encircles your heart. I give you my love and my heart.”
“Roy, the wedding band I presented you with has been inscribed with my undying pledge—you are my friend and my heart. I pledge you my love.”
“Jenny asked me to set up two sets of unity candles on the small table in front. The two outside candles have been lighted to represent your lives up to this moment. They are two distinct lights, each capable of going their separate ways. To bring the happiness God designed for your homes, there must be the merging of these two lights into one light. This is what the Lord meant when He said, ‘On this account a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.’ From now on, your thoughts shall be for each other, rather than for your individual selves. Your plans shall be mutual, your joys and sorrows shall be shared. As you each take a candle, and together light the center one, and extinguish your own candles, you will be letting the center candle represent the union of your lives into one flesh. As this one light cannot be divided, neither shall your lives be divided, but a united testimony in a Christian home. May the radiance of this one light be a testimony of your unity in the Lord Jesus Christ. Roy and Joanne, will you light one candle as Jenny and Allen light the other?”
Allen and Jenny and Roy and Joanne made their way to the front to light the unity candles.
“Jenny, you were given roses to carry today by your favorite ‘aunt.’ Joanne, she also has a bouquet of roses for you. Nicole wants all of you to remember that a rose is a precious flower just as your love is precious. Her advice to you is to remember to keep that precious gift in a special place and water it so it will continue to grow every moment of every day for the rest of your lives. Give that gift the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that it deserves. Make it the highest priority in your life.
“Allen and Jenny, in so much as the two of you have agreed to live together in holy matrimony and having heard the pledges of your faith in, and love to each other, and having sealed your solemn marital vows by the joining of your hands and giving and receiving of rings, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of the State of California, in the presence of God, whose grace to you is unmeasured, and these witnesses, I now pronounce you, Allen and Jenny, husband and wife. What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. And Roy and Joanne, insomuch as the two of you have renewed your pledges to each other, I am pleased to pronounce you husband and wife for the second time.”
"Allen, Roy, you may kiss your brides," the minister said with a smile.
Allen slowly lifted Jenny’s veil as Roy gathered Joanne into his arms and the two couples shared a kiss. Their smiles would have lit up all of California.
“And now it is my happy privilege to congratulate and introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. Allen Stephen Robinson and Mr. and Mrs. Roy DeSoto. May Christ be the Head of their homes. May He be the unseen Guest at every meal, the Listener to every conversation. May Christ's love rule their hearts and lives.”
The reception was in full swing when Roy and Joanne finally got a chance to talk privately with Johnny and Nicole. Roy had cornered them and made sure they would have a few minutes of peace. “You guys had something to do with what happened here today, didn’t you?” Roy looked at the twin grins plastered on Nicole’s and Johnny’s faces.
“Well, it was partly Jenny’s idea. She wanted to do something special for both of you for the strength she has seen in your daily lives over the last month. She said that she never felt like Joanne’s MS took first place at any time during the planning of her wedding. Her wedding always took top priority and she wanted to thank you. I just made the suggestion. Allen and Jenny took it from there.” Nicole was glad there was a twinkle back in Joanne’s and Roy’s eyes—one that hadn’t been there for the last month.
“Well, thank you for helping with this—I know you had to be involved with this even if you don’t want to admit it.” Roy was at a lost for words.
Their private moment was broken up when Allen and Jenny took the stage and Jenny stepped up to the microphone. “We have one more little surprise for my parents. As the minister mentioned in the ceremony, my Mom received a diagnosis of MS about a month ago. Well, I have watched my father be there every second of every day and not complain or get discouraged once. There have been some bad days and lots of tests. There will be lots more bad days and tests. But he is right there. Uncle Johnny, Aunt Nicole, will you sing for us now?”
As Johnny and Nicole made their way to the microphone, Allen continued. The song we have asked them to sing talks about Dad’s support for Mom, but we want them to know that it also goes for the station 51 A-shift family and both of us.”
Johnny and Nicole shared a quick kiss before they sang a song that spoke of their hearts.
I Will Be Here (Steven Curtis Chapman)
Tomorrow morning if you wake up and the sun does not appear
I, I will be here. If in the dark we lose sight of love, hold my hand and have no fear
I, I will be here. I will be here when you feel like being quiet, when you need to speak
Your mind I will listen. I will be here when the laughter turns to crying, through the winning, losing and trying, we’ll be together. I will be here.
Tomorrow morning if you wake up and the future is unclear, I, I will be here.
As sure as seasons are made for change, our lifetimes are made for years, I, I will be here. I will be here, you can cry on my shoulder when the mirror tells us we’re older, I will hold you. I will be here to watch you grow in beauty and tell you all the things you are to me. I will be here.
And I will be true to the promise I have made to you and to the One who gave you to me. If in the dark we lose sight of love, hold my hand and have no fear. I, I will be here. As sure as seasons are made for change, our lifetimes are made for years. I will be here; I will be here; we’ll be together. I will be here.
The reception was like the ceremony—one none of them would ever forget and one that tied the members of the Station 51 A-shift tighter together as a family.
And as an added surprise for Roy and Joanne, the original A-Shift members had gotten together and provided them a weekend at one of the highest priced hotels in town.
Marco was sitting as his desk completing the endless paperwork that all Captains hated. He sympathized with his former Captains (Hank Stanley and Roy DeSoto) remembering how they had hated it, too. He looked at his watch for about the millionth time in the last two hours. He couldn’t believe that it was almost 2:00 in the afternoon and they had not had one run all day. The feeling of gratefulness for a quiet day was being replaced by an instinct developed over the years. Something big and bad was going to happen before the end of the day. Marco just prayed that it would not be as devastating as his gut was telling him it was going to be. Just once he prayed his instincts were wrong.
Allen sat watching firefighter Patrick Watson and Paramedic Andrew Clark going at it again. From what his Captain had told the rest of the crew, their antics rivaled those of Chet Kelly and John Gage when they were stationed with Marco at Station 51. It would have been funny as usual, but today Allen was filled with a sense of dread. Not fully understanding why, he made his way to the dorm and sat down at the desk. For some unexplainable reason he felt compelled to write his feelings and thoughts.
Jenny was watching her brother and sister while her father had taken her mother to a doctor’s appointment. The twins would turn 13 this year. She couldn’t believe how fast time was flying by. As she watched the twins, she wondered what her children would be like. Would they be as full of mischief as her siblings? As she watched them playing with the family dog, a feeling of dread came over her.
Station 51 was called out to a semi-truck versus city bus accident. As Marco replied to headquarters, the feeling he had earlier returned stronger than ever. Whatever was going to happen, it was going to be on this run. He tried to shake off the feeling as Allen pulled the engine out of the station but it wouldn’t leave. Sending up a silent prayer that they would all return to the station after this run, he pushed the feeling aside and concentrated on the call they were responding to.
When they arrived, Marco immediately started giving orders even before the engine had come to a complete stop. His crew was fast and efficient in carrying them out and soon the gasoline had been washed away. Patrick and John were helping Brandon with the two victims they had removed from the bus—one of them a heart attack that Brandon and Patrick were doing CPR on. John was taking care of the cuts on the second victim. That left Marco and Allen to help Andrew with the bus driver—the semi-truck driver was in police custody as he had been drunk and had sustained no injuries.
The three men were just about ready to move the bus driver off the bus when they heard a faint call for help. Handing off the bus driver to Andrew and his Captain, Allen headed towards the back of the bus to see if he could find the person attached to the voice they had heard.
“I found her.” Allen looked at Marco and Andrew who had waited a minute to see if Allen was going to need any help. “I can get her out. We’ll be right behind you.” It was at that moment that they all heard the squeal of air brakes and saw the semi that was headed right for them. “Go on, get off. I’ll get her and we’ll meet you outside.” Allen knew he would not make it off the bus and sent up a quick prayer that God would take care of Jenny and help her through the days ahead.
Marco and Andrew were are the front of the bus and practically ran off the bus with the driver between them. Marco turned and looked as Allen pulled the lady to her feet. With a quick prayer that the two would make it, he helped move the bus driver to the waiting paramedics.
For a moment it looked like the semi was going to be able to stop before it hit the bus. But, a sinking feeling hit the pit of Marco’s stomach when the second semi hit and the bus exploded into flames. Allen and the victim he had been helping had not had a chance to make it off the bus.
Marco wasted no time in barking out orders as he pulled the microphone from its holder in the engine and called for another engine and squad to be sent to their location. He manned the dials as John pulled the hose and aimed it at the flames. They hoped that maybe Allen and his victim had reached the part of the bus that was not yet engulfed in flames. But the hope they had for their comrade was totally wiped out when the gas tank on the semi-truck blew sending all of them to the ground and totally engulfing the bus and the cab of the semi.
Station 51 had been on their way back to the station when the call came in to assist station 14. They were just two blocks away when they received the call. They made it to the scene just as the semi’s tank blew. Chet’s crew was in action before the engine stopped and Chet ran over to his friend. As he took in the scene, Chet realized Marco was at the controls of the engine and station 14 was a man short. He also realized it was Allen. Praying that Allen was just somewhere taking care of a victim he hurried over to his fellow Captain and friend.
Marco picked himself up off the ground and just stared at the site that greeted him. The sinking feeling had turned into one of shock. He had just lost his engineer—the first man lost under his command. The first man lost from the “Station 51 A-Shift” family.
The crews of station 14 and 51 went about their duties in a daze. The professional side of each crew member overrode the personal side, but they all knew none of them would leave without recovering Allen’s body. Headquarters had sent two additional crews and a Battalion Chief, but the two crews refused to leave until the job was completed.
Chief Daniel Kamson had arrived on scene with a heavy heart. Anytime a firefighter was killed, he felt it deeply. But it was even harder when he arrived and received the information that the firefighter was Chief Roy DeSoto’s son-in-law. After taking command and making sure everything was being done, he radioed headquarters and talked directly to Chief John Gage. He knew that the news would be delivered to Chief DeSoto and his family by a friend and would be done before they were finished at the scene. He sent up a silent prayer for John Gage as he delivered the news and the DeSoto family as they received it.
Johnny drove into his own driveway with a heavy heart. He knew that Roy had taken Joanne to the doctor and wasn’t home yet. Needing to talk to Nicole before he delivered the news, Johnny had left work early and taken his time driving. Turning off the car, he glanced over at the DeSoto home. Jenny was there watching the twins. How could he ever tell her?
Nicole had seen Johnny drive in and had wandered out onto the porch when she realized he was home early. She watched as he looked over at Jenny and the twins. Noticing the sad look in his eyes, she knew something was terribly wrong. Walking slowly down the porch steps, she watched as he laid his head on his hands. The tears in his eyes startled her as he opened the car door.
“Allen was killed in an accident today. I need to tell Roy, Joanne, and Jenny.” Johnny pulled his wife into his arms. He needed her strength and support.
“We’ll tell them together.” Nicole wanted to know what had happened, but knew that now was not the time to ask. Johnny just needed her support right now.
Johnny was grateful for his wife’s support. He knew that not only would Roy, Joanne, and Jenny need her strength, but he would, too. Although everyone assumed he was the strong one in their relationship, Nicole was the one who was the strongest one. It was Nicole who got him through the hard shifts and the times when he was discouraged thinking about what his life was like now—after the accident that had changed his life forever—Nicole and their faith in God. Right now he was leaning on both.
Marco and his crew had been relieved of duty for the rest of the shift. They had returned to the station and wanting to spare his friend and Jenny the pain, Marco had cleaned out Allen’s locker. He carefully started putting all of Allen’s belongings into a box. As he pulled the last of the items off the top shelf, an envelope addressed to Jenny fell onto the floor. Picking it up with a heavy heart, he laid it on top of everything else and walked to his car. He knew that Johnny would be telling Roy and Joanne and figured as Allen’s Captain, he should be there, too.
Marco wasn’t surprised when Chet’s car pulled into Johnny’s driveway behind his. Seeing Hank Stanley’s and Mike Stoker’s cars also didn’t surprise him.
Having seen the two cars drive in—and expecting the two men—Nicole walked out to meet them. Without saying a word she hugged both men and led them into her home. Then she glanced over at the DeSoto’s home, she realized that Jenny had seen all the cars pull in. “Johnny, I’m going to walk over to see Jenny. When Roy and Joanne get home, I’ll bring them all over here.”
“That’s a good idea, honey. Thanks.” Johnny was using his canes as he walked to the doorway where his wife was standing and gave her a hug.
Taking a deep breath, Nicole returned the hug and started towards the DeSoto home. Her eyes never left the twins and Jenny as they were playing at the tire swing hanging from the largest tree in the DeSoto yard. She was a little relieved that Jenny’s attention had returned to the twins.
“Aunt Nicole, yeah.” Crystal saw one of her favorite people heading their way. “Did you come to play with us?”
“Yeah, I thought I would come to see how you were doing.” Nicole hoped that she could keep Jenny’s mind off the fact that everyone was gathering at the Gage home.
“Push us, will you please?” Jason pleaded with his favorite Aunt. He was getting too old to be pushed, but somehow he never felt too old to have his “Aunt Nicole” push him.
“Sure, let’s see how high we can make you go.”
When Roy and Joanne returned, they found Jenny, Nicole, Crystal and Jason running around the yard playing tag. Leaning against the car as they watched the four, Roy held Joanne in his arms.
Nicole turned around as she chased Crystal. She stopped when she saw Joanne and Roy. Playing with the twins had taken her mind off the reason she was there in the first place. But seeing Roy and Joanne, it all came crashing back. “Roy, Joanne, Jenny, I need all of you to come to my house with me.” Nicole had to get it out right away or she may never be able to do it. “Let’s go now.” Without waiting for an answer, she turned and headed home.
“Everyone is there and there must be something going on.” A knot started to form in Jenny’s stomach. Grabbing Crystal’s hand, she started following Nicole.
Roy and Joanne shared a look of dread and then started following Jenny and Nicole across the field that separated the two homes with Jason between them. Both had a sinking feeling that whatever was going on was not good.
Hank and Johnny were standing on the front porch watching as Roy, Joanne, the twins, Jenny and Nicole approached. Even though they were all there, the original A-shift members had agreed that Johnny should be the one to break the news. He was dreading that task, but also knew that he wanted to be the one to do it. The two men stepped back and let Nicole lead the little group in and followed with heavy hearts.
“Hey, what’s everybody doing here?” Roy tried to untie the knot in his stomach when he saw the looks on all the guys’ faces.
“Why don’t you all sit down? I have something I need to tell you.” Johnny had walked up behind Roy and put his arm around his friend leading him to the couch between Jenny and Joanne. Then he pulled up a chair that Mike had brought from the kitchen and sat facing three of the most important people in his life. Taking Jenny’s hands into his, Johnny took a deep breath.
“Jenny, this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I need to tell you that Allen was killed during a rescue today.” Johnny paused to let what he had just said sink in.
As the words took hold, Jenny’s voice trembled. “What happened?”
“His station was called out to a city-bus/semi accident. He was helping to evacuate the victims from the bus. They were removing the bus driver believing him to be the last victim when someone called out. He gave the injured bus driver to Marco and Andrew to carry off—he was large enough to need two men to carry him—and went to find the person attached to the voice they heard. He found the lady and had moved the seat that pinned her in and started to help her off. Marco and Andrew had seen they were coming and had made it off the bus. Before Allen and his victim reached the front of the bus another semi hit the bus. It exploded and a short time later the gas tank on the second semi exploded fully engulfing the bus. Allen and his victim never made it off the bus.” Johnny had thought about leaving some of the details out, but he knew that Jenny, Joanne and Roy all needed to hear everything.
“You mean that Allen was on that bus?” Jenny had seen the news reports about the accident.
“Yes, honey, I am so sorry.” Johnny wanted to take his “Jenny Bean” into his arms and hold her. He wanted to wish all her troubles away.
“The news reporter said that there was a fireman who died. I didn’t know it was Allen. The reporter also said that the fireman was a hero because he had gone back to try to get a lady off the bus.” Jenny was starting to ramble and everyone just sat and let her. They knew she was slowly realizing and accepting the situation. “That is something Allen would have done.”
“Yes, Jenny. Andrew, Allen and I had just been able to free the bus driver and were preparing to get off the bus. That’s when the lady called out and Allen went back to find her. He had just located her when we heard the squeal of the semi’s air brakes. Allen told Andrew and me to get off the bus because we had the driver and it took two of us to help him. He said he would be right behind us, but I think he realized they wouldn’t make it. He had the woman free by the time my feet hit the bottom step and they were headed towards us. Andrew and I got the bus driver to the waiting paramedics and I thought the semi was going to be able to stop in time. But then it hit. Just as the truck hit, Allen and the lady were about half way to the front of the bus. Allen looked at me and I could see that he was telling me to tell you how much he loved you. Then the bus exploded.” Marco knew that Jenny needed to know everything that had happened.
“Do you think he suffered any?” Jenny was proud of her husband even in her sorrow.
“No, I don’t. I think the explosion took him quickly.” Marco was sure that Allen and the lady he was trying to help had died instantly.
“And I had something to tell him—but I think he knows.” Jenny seemed to be seeing something none of the rest of them could see.
“What is that, honey?” Roy’s voice caught as he thought about what his daughter must be going through. He had prayed that since Joanne had been spared the tragedy of losing a husband in the line of duty that Jenny would be spared that tragedy, too.
Jenny turned to look at her father. “I found out this morning that I am going to have a baby. Now I will have something that is a part of him and me.”
“And we will all help you teach him or her about the wonderful father they have. He or she will know that their father is a hero.” Johnny couldn’t keep the tears from sliding down his cheeks.
“Jenny, I cleaned out his locker and brought all his stuff with me. There was an envelope with your name on it on the top shelf.” Marco handed the envelope to Jenny and everyone was quiet as she slowly opened and read it.
~To my darling Jenny,
If you are reading this, I know that the feeling I have had all day that God is going to call me home was accurate. Jenny, know that I love you with all my heart. You are my soul-mate, my heart-song. I know that this is going to be hard on you. I’m not sure I am correct, but the way you have been feeling over the last week make me hope you are pregnant. If you are, then I am so happy. Although I would have loved to see this child, I know that it wasn’t meant to be. God has other plans and that’s alright. He is in control. Please let this child know that I love him or her with all my heart. I found a poem by Allison Chambers Coxsey the other day that for some reason I kept. Now I think I know why.
I never meant to leave you,
Could I have only stayed;
We would be going on in life,
With all the plans we made.
Now all the hopes and dreams we shared,
Are but sweet memories;
For you to tuck inside your heart,
Now when you remember me....
Remember all the good times,
And all the joy we shared;
Remember how you touched my life,
And how I really cared.
Think back on all the laughter,
And wipe away your tears;
You still have many miles to go,
And still have many years.
Don't look back....Look forward,
This day is a brand new start;
And as you travel on in life,
You'll take a bit of my heart.
I never meant to leave you,
But still you'll not be alone;
For as long as my love lives in you,
I'll never really be gone.
Jenny, this poem says what is in my heart right now. Please let my child know that I never wanted to leave them. Please teach them of God’s love and sacrifice so that someday I will be able to see them again in Heaven as I know I will see you. And Jenny, please do not mourn for me long. Please look for love again. You will not dishonor me in any way if you fall in love again. You deserve love and happiness and I hope you find another love to share sometime in the future. So this isn’t goodbye. It is good night. I will see you in the morning (when we meet again in Heaven). All my love forever, Allen
Jenny looked up to see the worried faces of her father, mother and her “Uncle Johnny”. “He knew he was going to die today. He also knew about the baby.” With a smile through her tears, she handed the letter to her mother to read to the group gathered there.
The day dawned bright and sunny. Jenny stood at the window in her old bedroom in her parent’s home. Today was her husband’s funeral. He was so special and she knew that she would make sure their child would know just how special. The tears slid down her cheeks. They had so many plans, but as Allen had said God was in control. ~Please help me get through this, Lord. I can’t do it without Your strength and help. Thank you for the time Allen and I had together. Thank You, too, for this new life inside of me that You gave me to help remember the wonderful man I had the privilege of marrying and loving even if it was for a short time. I will raise this child to know You and his father.~
The church was filled to overflowing. In the time he had been a member of the department, Allen had become well liked and respected. And he had died a hero. Jenny knew that Allen would be surprised by the turnout. He didn’t know how much he meant to his fellow firefighters. She also knew he would be pleased.
The service was beautiful. Marco and Chet had shared the job of sharing memories of Allen’s life with those in attendance. Allen had been the life of his stations—he had kept everyone in stitches almost every shift. He was the one who had helped make the shifts bearable. That is why there was more laughter than tears. After they had finished, Nicole made her way to the platform.
“Jenny, I found a poem by David M. Romano that I know Allen would be reading if he were here. I know it expresses his thoughts and feelings, because we spent some time discussing it one day and he shared with me his fears of leaving you too soon. The name of the poem is “Tomorrow”.
When tomorrow starts without me, and I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldn't cry the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things, we didn't get to say.
I know how much you love me, as much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me, I know you'll miss me too;
But when tomorrow starts without me, please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand, and said my place was ready,
In heaven far above, and that I'd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love. But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye for all my life, I'd always thought,
I didn't want to die. I had so much to live for,
So much left yet to do, it seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you. I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad, I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had. If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while, I'd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile. But then I fully realized,
That this could never be, for emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me. And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow, I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow. But when I walked through heaven's gates,
I felt so much at home. When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne, He said, "This is eternity,
And all I've promised you." Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew. I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last, And since each day's the same way
There's no longing for the past. You have been so faithful,
So trusting and so true. Though there were times
You did some things you knew you shouldn't do.
But you have been forgiven and now at last you're free.
So won't you come and take my hand and share my life with me?
So when tomorrow starts without me, don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me, I'm right here, in your heart.
“Jenny, as you remember the good times and how much Allen loved you. But also remember that he loved his Lord and is in Heaven with Him. The pain of losing someone you love as much as you loved Allen runs deep. But with the help of your family, friends and God, you will be able to one day think of Allen with a smile without the tears. Don’t ever think you have to forget him, but remember that he loved you and honor his memory by doing what he would want you to do. Every time you remember him, he is right there in your heart.”
The procession was long as it made its way past Station 51 towards the cemetery. As they laid their loved one, friend and co-worker to rest, a rainbow lit the sky.
“God is watching.” Jenny smiled through her tears as she climbed into her parents’ car and she saw the rainbow she knew was just for her.
The next few months were hard for all of them. Jenny’s landlord had been kind enough to let her out of the lease for the apartment she and Allen had rented and she moved back home. Helping to take care of her brother and sister helped to keep her from spending too much time thinking about how much she missed Allen. As the months passed and the baby grew inside of her, Jenny found she would think of her husband with love and without hurting all the time. And through it all, William Stoker seemed to be her rock. His friendship was her stabilizing factor as she quietly went on with her life.
All of the holidays in the last half of 1994 were hard on the entire Station 51 A-shift family. The hardest had been July 4th. The county had planned a special tribute to the fire and police personnel with a special recognition for those who had died in the line of duty. That meant Allen was one of those recognized. Jenny had been able to keep the tears to a minimum during the ceremony, but when the “family” was gathered at the Gage’s home, she sobbed as William wrapped her in his arms.
Labor Day was a little easier. The parade was led by Station 14’s engine. At the request of several firefighters and members of the general public, Allen had been awarded the Fire Department’s highest honor. This time Jenny had a few tears, but her heart burst with pride as she rubbed her growing stomach and felt her baby move inside her.
Thanksgiving was a quiet affair, but Jenny could now be thankful for the short time she had been allowed with Allen and for the baby that was a part of both of them. She thanked God that she had been allowed to meet and be a part of a very special person’s life—even if it was for only a few years. He had enriched her life and loved her and she would never forget that. The rest of the “family” was slowly coming to terms with Allen’s death, too.
Christmas and New Year’s were almost normal. As they all thought about “the reason for the season” of Christmas, they all were able to remember that God is in control. God’s Son was born at Christmas to die on the cross when He became a man. They remembered that each day we live is a gift from God. They were thankful for each day. Jenny began to believe that Allen’s death was just God telling Allen it was time for his reward. She could think of Allen without any tears and with love and pride.
Now she knew that her father, mother, all her “uncles” and “aunts” and all the other members of the Station 51 family were waiting in the lounge as her “Uncle” Johnny was her coach. She was in the last stages of labor and was just a short time away from holding the child that was part of her and Allen. She had been praying that it would be a boy so she could name him after his father.
“You’re doing great, Jenny.” Johnny had been thrilled when Jenny had asked him to be her coach. He had tried to get her to ask her father, but she (and Roy) had adamantly told him that her father would not be able to handle his “little girl” in pain. Both had urged him to do it, so he was now in the delivery room with his “Jenny Bean”. “One more push and this little one will join the world.”
“I sure hope so. I don’t want to do this anymore.” Jenny looked at Johnny and grimaced. With the next contraction she pushed with all she had and immediately felt the indescribable feeling that a woman experiences when her child is born. It was only a few seconds later that she heard the loud wail of her son.
“It’s a boy, Jenny.” Dr. Mandon was pleased. When Allen had died, he had spent hours talking to Jenny about her feelings and knew she wanted a namesake for her husband. “Allen, Jr. has a healthy set of lungs and his waterworks work just fine.”
Both Johnny and Jenny looked at the doctor to see that as he was born, Allen, Jr. had given the doctor a bath. As the nurse laid him in Jenny’s waiting arms, both Johnny and Jenny burst out laughing.
“Johnny, would you like to do the honors?” Dr. Mandon held out the scissors so Johnny could cut the cord. “Welcome to the world, Allen.” Johnny saw the tears shining in Jenny’s eyes and knew that she was wishing Allen, Sr., could have been there to share this moment with her.
“Thank you, Uncle Johnny.” Jenny lay back on the table as the nurse took Allen to clean him up, weigh and measure him and getting him ready for his mother. She had drifted off into a light sleep as Johnny slipped out to tell the family the good news. It was with a slight start and a chuckle that she knew when the news had been delivered—she could hear the cheers all the way down the hall from the lounge. ~He’ll know his father was a hero, Allen. And he’ll know how much you really loved him and would have wanted to be here for him.~
Life settled back into a routine with Allen, Jr. the center of attention. Every day his smile drew Jenny away from missing his father so much to sharing his father with him so he would know the strength of his heritage.
The Gage quadruplets and DeSoto twins were turning 14 and had started their freshman year of high school. Matt and Michael were very protective of their sisters. They had run into some other kids who had made fun of their heritage at the beginning of the year, but when those same kids got to know them, they were just as protective of the quads as any older brother or sister would be.
Matthew, Michael, Michaela, Megan, Jason and Crystal were walking down the hallway towards the cafeteria for lunch.
Stopping at their lockers, Matthew looked up at the kid who had the locker next to his. “Hi, are you new?”
Samuel Ruse turned and looked Matthew up and down. Maybe he would find an ally in this school after all. If this school was anything like his other schools had been, he knew he would need at least one. “Yeah, my dad just transferred here and today is my first day.”
“I’m Matthew Gage. I am in the ninth grade.” Matthew held out his hand for Samuel to shake. “Welcome to Carson High.”
“I’m Samuel Ruse.” Samuel shook Matthew’s hand as the others came up and joined them.
To be continued in Terror at Carson High
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