EVERY day REALLY is a good day.
It can’t be 15 years, it can’t just be. It seems like only yesterday that I responded with fellow firefighters to lower Manhattan following the most devastating attack on America since Pearl Harbor.
There are countless stories that I still carry with me. Stories about the fourth grade school teacher at a local school who watched through the day as her class-size dwindled as each student was picked up by a family member or a loved one. By early afternoon she was left with five students, who knew something was drastically wrong and asking constantly “where’s mommy, where’s daddy?”
The story of the guy from the local deli who had just delivered a dozen bagels with cream cheese to a company holding a 9 o’clock meeting on the 79th floor of the North Tower? I was told he did not survive.
I spoke with a Port Authority police officer who was escaping the South Tower just before it fell. He took a left and his partner went right. Only he lived to tell his story.
A FDNY firefighter who shared that he would be forever haunted by the fact that he asked his buddy to cover his shift for him and his friend didn’t make it.
This October the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will be honoring several FDNY firefighters who have succumbed to post 9/11 related cancers and related diseases.
The stories are endless but confidentiality and decorum prohibits me from elaborating further.
That said, I have elected not to focus on the horror, the devastation, or the anger of 9/11. My salvation occurred in St Paul’s Chapel. St Paul’s Chapel resides next to Ground Zero. There is no logical explanation why it wasn’t crushed with the rest of the World Trade Center complex. It was George Washington’s church.
It became a sanctuary where rescue and construction workers could go to get away, albeit temporarily, from sights, the sounds, smells and the dine of the rescue/recovery operations. Incredible volunteers, who I will never get to properly thank, would meet you at the door with a pat on the back, or a hug, remind you of the incredible job you’re doing and hand you a bottle of water. They restored my faith in humanity before I curled up in a pew for a few hours of restorative sleep.
I want to share with you my take away from the events of 9/11. I am 15 years older now (and hopefully a little wiser) and I remind myself almost every day of the advantages that I have had that nearly 3000 people, who were simply going to work on a beautiful September morning, had stolen from them and their families.
I developed the mantra “let it go…” long before it became a popular phrase with the Disney movie Frozen. When your flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem and the airline ‘promised’ to hold your connecting flight and didn’t, let it go. When you lose power for more than a week and need to throw out all your food, let it go. When you have spent hours clearing your driveway after a major snow storm and the town plow comes by leaving a mountain of new snow in your driveway while destroying your mailbox, let it go.
For those that know me I have developed multiple canned responses to the inquiry ‘how are you doing?’
· Every day is a good day.
· I’m on the green side of the grass.
· I’m vertical and had my coffee, what else matters.
· Life is so good I should be in jail.
· It’s better to be seen than viewed.
· Cremation is my last hope for a smoke’n hot body.
· Every day is a gift, it is not a given
· Every day is a gift which is why they call it the present.
· Every day’s a gift that I enjoy opening every day.
· Life is too short not to have a good time
Personally my life’s goal is to die at age 92, with my brain and all my joints functioning properly, after one last night of hot passionate sex. I don’t want to arrive at the grave all prim and proper. I’d rather slide in sideways, in a cloud of dust, worn out and disheveled, shouting “o’ man what a great ride!”