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Second Responders Don’t Leave

By Justine Dorton

First responders are the vital and heroic people in our lives that come into disaster’s first moments and save lives. They rescue us from fires, floods, and famines. They resuscitate and often breath literal life back into people at their lowest moments.

And then they often move to the next disaster. They are angels in that moment of high adrenaline and stress.

10 years ago I suffered a traumatic brain injury, requiring a good head shaving, a 16″ incision, and several dozen staples in my head after brain surgery. After an ICU stay and a lengthier stint in the ‘regular’ hospital, I returned home to a clean house and fed children. My neighbors and church congregation had fed and cleaned and helped my family in that critical time of need. There were many literal tears of gratitude and joy at the love and friendship I felt from so many.

But as that moment passes, the immediate need subsides. The crisis wanes and the desperate cry for help isn’t quite as desperate anymore. It really isn’t any less pressing, though.

I couldn’t do much for myself, and definitely couldn’t do much to care for my children.

And the second responders – those that never left – continued. Most of the first responders moved on to care for others, new mothers, other elderly neighbors, and many others, I’m sure.

But there were some that stayed, and honestly have stayed to this day. They fed my family 2 meals every day for weeks – weeks! They cleaned my bathrooms. They read to me. They sat with me.

And to this day, these women feed me – these second responders. They stayed.

As my heart hurts watching the pain of Houston/Florida/Puerto Rico/Las Vegas right now, I marvel at the strength and courage of the first responders and I pray for the power and fortitude of those second responders. The ones that will stay and rebuild and hug and feed and love. Because second responders never leave. It’s what they do. Please, never leave.

About Justine Dorton

Justine is a mother to five children, and has a husband lodged somewhere (probably in the den). She is not very fond of speaking of herself in third person.

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