(This is a re-post. It was originally posted last year on 9/10)
Tomorrow marks the day that our county changed forever. I was sitting at my desk at Lycos, just starting my day. Someone walked by and said “A plane just hit the world trade center”. I didn’t think much of it. I seem to recall that just recently a person with a parachute jumped, perhaps on purpose and hit the Empire State Building or something like that. I also thought he was talking about the trade center in Boston. Perhaps a small plane? I went to one of the news sites and didn’t see anything, so I went back to work. A few minutes later someone said “you all need to go see the tv in the gym” (we had a gym in our building) We went downstairs, and watched the first tower burning. We were there when the second plane hit. We watched in horror, as we knew then it was no accident. The said it was an American Airlines Plane from Boston to LA. My sister was on an American Airlines Boston to LA flight the day BEFORE. We don’t remember now if it was flight 11 or not, but my heart still sank. It could have been her, as she often changed her flights at the last minute.
When I got back to my desk, I had a message from my father – he was crying on the message, telling me what happened. My sister called me later, and said “what the heck is going on? Dad left me a message and he was crying”. Because of the time difference, she did not know what happened. I think about that same time, the plane had hit the Pentagon someone had shouted out “a bomb was at the Pentagon” I told my sister she needed to turn on the news and watch. We left work early, and I went to be with my dad at his office.
I would later learn a woman I went to college with, had been in the building, but made it out safely. My cousin lost a very good friend as well as some former co-workers at TJ Max on that day. Outside of those stories, I didn’t know any one personally that was on the plane or in the buildings. I did not have a direct lose that day, but of course things changed. I remember I had a condo board meeting that night, and was thinking “how can just be sitting here?!?” I went out for ice cream that night and it was very busy – I remember saying to someone in line “I guess I am not the only one that can’t watch the news anymore”. I brought the ice cream to my parents and we watched more news.
The days passed slowly – I felt so helpless. I could not donate blood, I could not go to NY to help. I wasn’t a nurse at the time – my job was sitting behind a desk all day. I can recall a few companies cancling their advertising contracts – the reason “due to the events on Sept 11″.
A few weeks later, we were in a big meeting at work. It went something like this: Be aware of those around you that may have been affected by the events, be aware of clients needs, but GET THE NUMBERS” The world around us had changed forever, and all they really cared about was the bottom line. It was then, I knew I needed a change.
Earlier that summer, I had spend a week at Camp Fatima during its Exceptional Citizens Week. “EC Week” is a special week for people of all ages, with Special Needs. Each camper has his/her own staff with him/her the entire week. There is Arts and Crafts, Swimming, Entertainment, all that you would expect at overnight camp. Often people with special needs, can not go to a “regular” camp, so they can come here. It is a wonderful week, Free of charge. The campers have a great time, and the families get a much needed break. http://www.ecweek.org/index.html
That week had a huge impact on me. After being there for a week, I saw there was more to life than just sitting behind a desk all day, making a whole lot of money. I decided that I wanted to do more with my life. My mom wisely suggested that I trying volunteering at different things, and perhaps working my budget to see if I could actually live off less, as people in that field do not make a lot of money. I started doing some respite work, as well as volunteering at Perkins School for the Blind. With one individual, he was living alone, so I was more of a “companion” for him, and helped him with his bills. We would go out to Dunkin’s and just chat for a bit. The other individual was a young woman who still lived at home. I became a “big sister” to her, and while we do not get together as often, I still do things with her. We have a wonderful picture of her and Alexander just after he was born. She had a wonderful way with him
My volunteer work at Perkins eventually led me to apply for a job there. In June of 2002 I began my work in the Human Service Field. I worked there for about a year, then spent a very long three weeks working with autistic children. They showed me the nice calm 5 year olds during my interview, but then put me with the not so calm 11 year olds! I am glad there are people that are able and willing to work with those children, but I was not one of them.
I took a little bit of a break for a while, then worked with Adults with Brain Injury. During my interview, one of the people said “why don’t you go to LPN school?” I had never heard of LPN’s, never thought about nursing school, but looked to it, and off I went! It was a long process for me that took me to two schools, but in the end I did it and I am very glad I did. (but that is for another post)
So, I didn’t lose anyone I knew and loved on 9/11/2001, it did have a profound impact on my life. Would I have become a nurse if it had not happened? Maybe, maybe not. But, I know that from that tragic day, something good did happen, and I hope that I can make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families, as I give them the love and care they deserve.