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Firefighter’s prescient goodbye letter is read at his funeral: ‘Now I’m a free spirit’

The brother of a fallen firefighter who had penned a farewell letter “in the event that something were to happen” read his tribute to loved ones at his sibling’s memorial service.

Lt. Brad Clark, of Virginia’s Hanover County Fire-EMS, died on Oct. 11 when a truck rear-ended the fire engine he was standing near as he helped a motorist during Tropical Storm Michael. While his three squad members were injured, Clark died at the scene.

On Wednesday, during his memorial service, his brother Jonathan Clark read aloud a letter Brad had written in the event of an untimely death.

“I’ve lost my celebrity death match against the Grim Reaper. Not the reason I would choose for all the people I hold dear in my life to get together, but you may as well make the best of it,” read Jonathan to the crowd of thousands, according to local news station WAVY TV 10. “I love to see other people smile, so I suppose you know I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to make you all show your teeth.”

Brad, a husband and a father of daughters, also honored his squad by saying, “To my brothers in the fire department, what can I say? We are all Peter Pan and we’ll never grow up. Not even today. … The brotherhood means so much to me and I love every one of you. Thank you all for sharing this amazing job with me, and I ask all of you to watch over my family in the coming days, weeks, and months.”

Brad then thanked his family for “making me into the man I am — or was — up until a few days ago. Now, I’m a free spirit, flying high and striving to watch over each of you.”

The firefighter also had advice for his daughters, “the little women that had me wrapped around their little fingers. You will never understand how much you mean to me. You all have taught me so much in life, probably more than I ever taught you all. I never knew love until I had little versions of myself walking around. My heart existing outside of my chest.”

The letter continued, “Work hard, don’t give up, fight for what you want and believe in, and never let the opinions of others steer you from what your heart says.”

To his wife, Brad wrote, “To my buttercup: I’ve loved you since I was 19 years old. … I will miss being able to tell you multiple times, each and every day, that I love you. … You’re the missing piece that completed my life.”

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