A Fireman’s Valentine

February 14, 2022

Before we ever went out together that night, I posted a little tribute to Ryan on Facebook. I love him so much, and I wanted him to know it through words of affirmation. (I hear they’re important to him, though I’m never quite sure if they sink in or not.)

By the way, if I recently ignored a friend request from you on Facebook, thanks for asking. I’m sorry to disappoint. Facebook is one place I keep for my real life friends, a kindness to them and also to me – unless you want to follow “Shari Zook Author,” which is a separate and open account where I forget to post anything ever. My Instagram account @zookshari is more lively, and open to all friends, real or otherwise. Now I am laughing. You are most welcome there.

– our family at a wedding in January of this year –

Alongside this picture, I wrote,

“Today I am so happy for the privilege of spending the last nineteen Valentine’s Days with this man. Our story has had kinks in it we did not foresee and I would not have chosen. It’s not easy staying in somebody’s life long term… for either side. [goofy emojis] But I love him more now than I’ve ever loved him in my life. He loves with his whole heart and leads us with honesty and humility. I want as many more years with him as I am given.”

And then we went out to dinner, and I posted more words and photos on Instagram about our eating fried green tomatoes together for the first time, and how lovely it all was.

We chose early and short for our date, for our children’s sake, but I fully intended to continue the party once they were all tucked in their rooms for the night… with the chocolates we’d given each other, maybe a show, and more talk time to finish answering the fun questions we’d picked for the evening. Definitely some cuddling without the whole restaurant watching. We were feeling all close and dreamy.

Guess what?

His pager beeped five tones at about 8 pm, while he was playing Take One with the boys.

Apparently, people with burning houses don’t consider the Valentines plans of their first responders. How dare they.

So he headed out, and I waited. (It was a long and damaging fire, and good they were there. But I didn’t know that till later.) I put the children to bed alone, poor me, like so many women do every night, poor me. And I waited. I ate some chocolate by myself. Only mine, mind you! Not his – I am so SWEET like that. I watched a Sue Thomas episode until late. And then I went to bed alone, poor me.

The sheets were cold.

That is how a fire wife Valentine’s goes down. On the one hand, we have the rest of our lives to enjoy romantic dates. On the other hand, sometimes we get something really special going and then (blip) – it’s gone.


At least he didn’t leave before he paid for the tomatoes.

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1 year ago

I am sorry your date ended on a bummer note! Seems like life just has a way of doing that.. I was trying to decide if he looked impressed with his fried green tomatoes or not…then as I read I was feeling sorry for you but had to end on a chuckle at your parting comment -” at least he never left before he paid for the tomatoes”.. lol.. I love your sense of humor:)..(and at least you had a house for him to come back to, that had not burned down..)

1 year ago

Ha ha, Sue Thomas! A girl who was married here last year is a great fan of the show, and at the reception two of her married friends did a skit as Sue and Jack, and at the end they ran towards each other and finally kissed! And from his position kneeling on the floor beside them, “Levi” yelped!

1 year ago

I find your story amusing and relatable. My husband was late for our Valentine’s date due to a house fire. He came home smoky and wet, and I reheated all the food I had slaved over for hours. How romantic.

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