And just like that, my days begin at 5am.

It’s Monday morning, and I’m still drained from a late night of packing a tuna salad lunch, making coconut-peanut butter granola bars, and strawberry-blueberry fruit leathers. No, I don’t suddenly have a 10-year-old child getting ready to start a new school year– I have a 28-year-old man in my life attending the fire academy.

Before this hour, it had been a rough few days. I won’t lie.

Thursday evening, I had a dinner planned with a few girlfriends. It was the day that The Man went to get all of his gear– the helmets, boots, bunker gear, equipment, FT clothes, and so much more would be in my home before the end of the night.

I cracked jokes, told him I wanted one of his sweatshirts, and texted him that I expected him to be in full bunker gear by the time I made it from the street to our apartment door.

When I got to the apartment, it was a mess. He was in the bedroom folding his clothes, while our bunny relaxed in her usual spot in front of our entertainment console. The first thing I saw was a set of suspenders folded on our coffee table, and pointed it out as though he left out some sexy little gift. He laughs and points out how I passed a giant FDNY bag the size of a Smart car, and all of his boots and helmet.

At first it was pretty cool to see the gear. The I picked up the helmet and it hit me– This isn’t just a show piece. This isn’t some accessory. This is something that will protect The Man’s life. I couldn’t handle it. After that breakdown, I found it hard to go more than a few hours without crying.

How do the wives and husbands of these men and women deal with this? My heart is aching and wanting so bad to hold on to him forever and keep him safe. Then there is this problem: I can’t just cry and worry! It’s not good for me, and it’s not good for him.

I have to learn to be strong for him. His amazing aunt told him that I can call her if ever the need arises. She is the wife of a police officer in Western New York, and she understands this kind of lifestyle. His aunt has always been such a wonderful person to me, and I can’t express my gratitude enough. Chances are, I will be even more indebted after taking her up on this kind offer!

But now, on the first day of the academy, I feel as though I had been worrying a little too much. Through the air and space between us, I can already hear my sisters and girlfriends laughing, saying that my preemptive worries are dramatic, yet completely expected.

Where last night there was an overwhelming sense of worry and the need to protect The Man, today there is a stronger sense of pride and eagerness to hear how his first day went. He’s fine and will be amazing in this next chapter.

From the heart of a firefighter’s girlfriend who is still trying to see the beauty and joy in every day despite this new unfamiliar territory, have a day filled with love and happiness!