TRIUMPH OVER TRAGEDY: A TESTAMENT TO THE HUMAN SPIRIT
I’ve written in previous posts about our need to prioritize, to focus on what is most meaningful in life and to make the best of what life deals us. Just recently I was indeed inspired by the courageous spirit of one of our fall visitors. I hope that I can convey at least a small portion of the outstanding spirit of this remarkable woman.
I was approached last week by one of our coach visitors. Her group had booked with a
The aforementioned coach arrived at our
She explained to me and to her escort why she had enquired: her husband had perished that tragic day. While on a business trip to
Over the next several moments her incredible story unfolded. She had never spoken to her husband after the first plane attack. His body had never been recovered. But she had pieced together his heroic story and took solace in his last meaningful hours spent on this earth.
In the days and weeks after the attack, she searched for any bit of news in hopes that he might be found alive in some hospital or that his body might be recovered. But her grief and anxiety were met only by numbing silence. She read voraciously every published account of the attack that she could find. A reporter’s interview of one of the first responders caught her attention. He described helping an injured man to safety, a man who fit the basic description of her beloved husband. She contacted the man interviewed and asked for more details. She followed up by sending him a photo, which he positively identified as her husband, the heroic civilian described in the interview.
Many of the employees of the firm her husband was visiting were killed or injured when the first plane attacked. Her husband suffered a severely injured leg, but he assisted others injured more severely than himself down the darkened, smoke engulfed stairway until they reached an impasse of destruction. There they were eventually met by this first responder and other brave firefighters who helped to clear the wreckage and opened a narrow passage to freedom. Her husband helped others through and finally got through himself. When he reached the street level of the building, he continued assisting firefighters in escorting other injured people to safety. The firefighter who rescued him lost track of him for a while as he went about saving others. He was outside the building bringing others to medical personnel when he spotted her husband emerging from the crippled building, only to hear an heart-melting roar as the tower suddenly collapsed. The firefighter ran from the destruction, narrowly escaping his own death. Her husband perished.
By this time tears invaded the corners of every eye within the sound of her brave voice. She said, “It’s been hard but God has blessed me every step of the way. I am so fortunate to have discovered what happened to my husband.” She spoke with joy, she spoke with peace, she spoke with optimism for her future. Not a syllable, not an utterance was tinged by anger or bitterness. While no one could ever “get over” such a tragedy, she has forged a new life for herself and dedicates herself to helping others. I stand in awe of the brave spirit she possesses.
The next time you are irked by the tiny annoyances of life, remember the story of this brave soul.