On 9-11, my 83 year old father was still asleep when I turned on the TV. He had been in an auto accident several months before and became severely depressed. The newscasters had just announced that a plane flew into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. They were still unsure if it was an accident or a terrorist attack but, as everyone knows, the answer became crystal clear when the second tower was hit. My first reaction was to pray for the people in the buildings, and soon I remembered that my son, a New York resident, occasionally visits the Trade Center. After phoning him and discovering that I couldn’t get through, I decided to e-mail him and tell him to let me know if he was ok - A.S.A.P.
My thoughts turned back to my father and went in to check on him. It was unusual for him to sleep so late or for him to get much sleep at all. He looked awful. He was curled up in a ball shivering even though there were 3 or 4 blankets covering him. I shook him and reminded him he had a doctor’s appointment but he simply waved me away and in a very faint voice he said he wasn’t going to the doctor. In the following three hours I alternated between trying to convince my father, who was looking worse and worse, to get up and go to the doctor, and trying to phone my son, even though I knew the lines were down, and watching on television the horrible events that were unfolding in New York. I phoned a friend of mine to ask about her husband and children who work in the city, not far from the trade center. She couldn’t get through to them either, but later returned my call to tell me her family were all ok. Another friend called and told me her boyfriend’s mother had gone to the WTC that morning and he hadn’t heard from her. We later found out she had an early doctor’s appointment there and she left the building about 8:30, just before the towers were hit. She was planning to return to one of the towers again to meet her friends for lunch. Unfortunately, her friends perished.
By this time, I was becoming panicky. I had decided that even if my father changed his mind about seeing the doctor, I had to stay home until I heard from my son. I was glued to the television, in spite of horrific images I saw. By this time my legs were barely able to hold me and I was shaking uncontrollably. I received several phone calls from dear friends and relatives who were concerned about my son. It was about 1:00 in the afternoon when he was able to e-mail me to tell me he was ok - he wasn’t near the trade center that day, but he had been there four days before. I thanked The Lord that he was safe and prayed for the people who were suffering and dying in New York and in Pennsylvania. I couldn’t imagine how the friends and family of those poor people could deal with knowing their friends or family were in those buildings… I prayed for them too.
At this time it occurred to me that my father hadn’t had his morning medication nor had he had anything to eat or drink. I went into his room with a glass of juice and his medication. He refused to take it. He had barely moved since the last time I checked on him, and he looked worse. I decided that when my husband came home a little later in the afternoon, we would take my father to the hospital, probably by ambulance. I ran next door to ask my neighbor if she would pick up my little granddaughter from school for me and keep her at her place, so she wouldn’t be frightened. She agreed. When I returned home I checked on my father again and he began to point his finger in the air. When I asked what he was trying to tell me he said in a very faint whisper….the pills…..I took the pills…...in the kitchen. A couple of weeks before my husband and I had hidden his pills in a container in a high cabinet in the kitchen because of his depression. I ran into the kitchen and the four vials of pills were empty. He had taken all of them!! What more could happen? I couldn’t wait until my husband got home. I called 9-11. How ironic! 9-11 on 9-11. I will never forget the events associated with numbers.
While I waited for the ambulance, I asked my father when he took the pills, but he was unresponsive. The paramedics arrived very quickly, which I was grateful for because they could pump his stomach and get the poisons out of his body. Little did we know (he told us later) that my father had taken the pills the night before while we were present in the house! The paramedics told us later that, in the ambulance, he kept saying over and over that he wanted to die. Thankfully, he lived and is doing quite well now, but it took all of these months to get him better.
That day, I watched people on TV run for their lives from the twin towers and policemen, firemen and others - run into those burning buildings to save the lives of others, only to lose their own lives….and that same day I watched my father, who wanted to die…..live. How one day can change our lives!
My friends and family are so precious to me and 9-11 has made me remember that I need to tell them so. Its so easy to get caught up in our routines and daily lives that we forget to count our blessings, which, in this great country are many, but I think the party’s over. In the 70’s we used to say “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. 9-11 has taught me to distinguish to “big stuff” from the “small stuff!. The increased security we have to live with will always remind us of what happened. We have taken our freedom for granted for so long and had begun to think that the bad things we see on TV only happen only in some “other” country. On 9-11 it happened to us, in our country.