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"We are all shaken. All of us." What it's really like to be a volunteer firefighter battling the NSW bushfires.

I’m exhausted. We all are. But to wake to the news that two of our ‘own’ have died on the fireground – my heart is totally fucking broken.
I cannot imagine what their crewmates have experienced, how their station is going to process such a huge loss, and most importantly – their beautiful families. Wives have lost soul mates, children lost their hero Papas. It is pain that I cannot begin to understand. I never met these comrades, but they will always be etched into my memories of this horrid campaign of fire. I am so sorry for so many people that this has happened. We are all shaken. All of us.

I have cried most of the day today. Husband is out on a truck (again) – I thought I’d try to go do some shopping for Christmas. There was no joy in my heart as I drove down the mountain. I was ugly crying, shocked, and really angry. After stopping into a good mates workplace to compose myself before I got into ‘society’ – I was floored by the offer of financial assistance to put towards my measly dollars to Christmas shop for four children. I resisted. I cried again. I argued. I then caved and accepted help. How do you thank people for such generosity? I pulled myself together – let’s go get this shopping done. I am humbled.

At the shops – I was met by the gorgeous wife of a fella I went to school with. Her sweet, bright-eyed daughters were by her side. She pushed money into my hand. I cried again. I’m not worthy of such kindness. I hugged and kissed each babe on the head and looked each right in the eyes. Thank you, you precious family.

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Lucy with two of her children. Image: Supplied.

After wondering which doll to buy #3 for Xmas – I could buy both that I was conflicted between. It was a bittersweet moment.

I got the basic amount of gifts for the kids. I feel somewhat more prepared for Santa to visit in a few days. I cried some more. I’m so tired – we’re all so tired. I miss my kids and my husband.

I was then contacted by another friend who needed me to pick something up from her workplace. Figuring I still had time before the roads were blocked off, I popped in to see her. Well SHIT. I cried some more – her little team of office workers had wrapped and labelled some presents for my beautiful children.

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I am not worthy of such amazing kindness.

My heart feels a little lighter knowing that the next few days are going to be f*cking brutal on the fireground, but the stress of Christmas has been mostly lifted. The children have an assortment of gifts to open – it will be a surprise for all of us what they get! I hope I see them before Christmas. They have been sent away to Nan and Pop's until it’s safe to venture home.

I don’t know how to express my gratitude of such acts of kindness.

I don’t know how to deal with the grief of constant bad news from firegrounds all over the state.

I don’t know how to get my house in order, or when I’m going to have my next healthy meal.

I am no different to any other fire service member.

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Lucy's four children. Image: Supplied.

But I received a new task this afternoon of organising helpers at the station to feed crews coming and going from their shifts, which gives me some direction for now.

Tomorrow I head out on a truck while my husband stays home to defend the house. Tomorrow is looking to be ‘the’ day for our community of Kurrajong Heights. Part of me just wants it to f*cking hurry up and happen so we can all just get on with life. Part of me wants it to rain so quickly and violently that we all think we’re going to drown in a f*cking flood. So conflicted.

I made a sign for the front of our house – we live on the main road where all the trucks pass. "Keep calm and hug a firey". Well – I feel
I need to hug all of you – your gentle hugs and sincere goodwill to not only myself and my family but to all the RFS personnel you come into contact with – you are all worth your weight in gold. This village of people I am surrounded in is beyond anything I’ve ever imagined.

My previous posts of venting about no Christmas tree, no presents, no time were NEVER intended to create such a freight train of love and support, I only wished for people to see the reality of what this type of fire does to families of all shapes and sizes. We are human, we are not heroes – we are just normal citizens doing a job – but our communities are seriously something else. I am so god damn proud to be a Hawkesbury girl.

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Image: Supplied.

Now that I’ve cried a million tears, I’m off for a sleep, and tonight, I’ll put my uniform on, and get on with it. I know you will all catch me and everyone else when we fall down when this is all over. We’re going to need each other.

From the bottom of my crazy emotional heart,
The Mum.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Lucy Kaboosey is a mother-of-four and a volunteer firefighter with the Kurrajong Heights Rural Fire Service in the Hawkesbury. To read more from Lucy, you can follow her page on Facebook here.

You can donate directly to Lucy's brigade, the Kurrajong Heights Rural Fire Service, or any other NSW RFS brigade here.

You can also donate directly to the families of Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer, who tragically lost their lives while on duty at the Green Wattle Creek fireground on December 19, here.

For more information on how you can support NSW firefighters, please visit the official RFS website or read our guide on what you can do to support firefighters around the country.

... And there's more.

Mamamia Out Loud, our bi-weekly podcast, is coming to Melbourne for a live show, with 100 per cent of all ticket proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund.

It's a brand new show, full of laughs and news and opinions and a few special surprises, with Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens, on February the 11th. You can buy tickets right now at mamamia.com.au/events. See you there! 

This post originally appeared on Four Times The Madness on December 20th and has been republished here with full permission.