http://www.one.org Dixie Peach: Next Day

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Next Day

It was the last Saturday in March, 1991. Easter was around the corner but it was still too cool and too rainy to feel like spring. The phone rang and my parents' neighbor asked to speak to my now ex-husband so my ex would be able to break the news to me. My father was being taken to the hospital and maybe he had suffered a heart attack.

On the twenty minute ride to the hospital I remember sitting in the passenger seat and thinking that there must be a mistake. This couldn't be happening. There's no way that my father could be suffering from anything that could potentially take his life. As it turned out it wasn't a heart attack but instead was a cerebrial aneurysm. He was on life support and it was likely that he wouldn't survive.

I spent the day numb and confused. I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that something this bad was happening to my family. This sort of thing doesn't happen to us! Friends of mine had tragedy visit them and their family but not mine. Surely things weren't as bad as the doctors made them sound because this sort of thing just couldn't be happening to my family.

I felt so hurt. So bruised inside. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted my dad healthy again. I wanted my family like it had been twenty-four hours earlier. I wanted to crawl into my mother's lap and have her comfort me and tell me things would be alright again and to not worry. I wanted to feel safe from tragedy. All I got was the gnawing feeling that my life, my world wouldn't be the same again.

September 11, 2001 was another day where the weather didn't match the date. Again it was a too cool, too rainy day and I recall going to the outdoor market that day to buy lace curtains for my livingroom. I'd just had new carpet and new paint put there in anticipation of Darling Mollie's visit a few days later and I wanted to have new curtains as well.

I'd gotten home from my shopping just as the tragic events of that day were happening. B was trying to explain to me that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center and just then the second plane hit. I stared in stunned silence not believing what I was seeing. There was no denying that it was a terror attack but how could that be? Things this big, this dramatic are so rare in the United States...how could my homeland be under attack? Surely this wouldn't be so horrible when all was said and done.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to take in and understand the reality of it all. A friend's daughter, home sick from school, called B and me. She was home alone, unable to speak to her mother at work and she needed comfort from someone. Someone grown up and someone who could tell her everything would be alright. As the towers fell and Freya became almost hysterical at was she was seeing, I tried to soothe her nerves but mine needed soothing just as much. I needed my own reassurance. I wanted to speak to family and friends and know that they were safe. I wanted things to be the way they were twenty-four hours earlier. And I knew my world wouldn't be the same again.

1991 - I went back to work a few days after my father's aneurysm. He was still on life support and the feeling of fear and unease was still with me. I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to work because my mind was in a jumble and surely no one could understand how I felt. The feeling that I would burst into tears at any moment was always present.

My friends and supervisors and co-workers at work had been told what was going on with me and their outpouring of sympathy stunned me. They didn't know all the details and didn't know how things would progress with my father but they knew I needed comfort and they stepped up to provide it. If it hadn't been for them I may not have been able to get through the coming months. My father was removed from life support but instead of him passing he suddenly began to breathe on his own. He remained in a persistent vegetative state for the nine months he had left to live and even though it was a difficult time for me and my family, the people who cared about me never failed to support me and it forged a deeper bond between us.

2001 - The morning after the terror attacks I started the day wishing that the previous day had been only a terrible dream. While it hurt, I tried to keep my day as ordinary as possible. After all, we still had to keep living.

I walked across the street to the bakery and on top of the bakery case were newspapers for sale. The photo on the front was of the WTC towers enrobed in smoke and flames and the headline said "God Help Us All" and as I read it my eyes instantly filled with tears and the heart crushing feeling was back.

Just then the bakery lady came from behind the counter. I'd been a customer of hers for years and she knew I am American and knew how I must be feeling the day after such a disaster. Even though Germans can be quite strict about who they touch, especially between those who aren't friends, the lady hugged me and shyly said to me in probably some of the very few English words she even knows, "I help hold you up.".

If there's anything good that came from these sad events in my life it is the knowledge that people will help hold me up. Friends and strangers alike. Even when it seems as though humanity is on a downhill slide, there are still more good and caring people than ones that mean you harm. And they will help hold you up.

9Comments:

Blogger traveller one said...

I love this idea! Let's start a worldwide movement of "holding one another up"!

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

With blogging, supporting each other in our day to day lives and little problems, I think we already have. :)

11:30 PM  
Blogger marshamlow said...

Thanks Dixie, I needed that!

11:43 PM  
Blogger Hilda said...

Dixie!

I don't think I knew that your father died from an aneurysm - just like mine. I too went back to work while he was on life-support, and I too had to make the difficult decision of stopping the life-support.

You're right - I never would have made it without my friends and family who most definitely were there to "hold me up".

4:35 AM  
Blogger sari said...

Well I made it until tonight without crying today, but you got me.

I'm sad about your father, for you, as my friend. I'm glad there are people all over to hold us up when we need it.

4:48 AM  
Anonymous Belinda said...

man, I'm with Sari. I was doing good until the very last part and then I was done.....

This is really one of the most wonderful things you've ever written Kim, and you generally write wonderful things.

Even though we've never met I feel really blessed to "know" you via this online medium.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

You are so, so right, Dixie, about knowing when we're held up by those around us. What a great juxtaposition of these two stories, both so deeply engrained in you!

4:18 PM  
Anonymous pkb said...

and you have held me up more than you could ever know.

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Mamma Bear said...

This is one of the most beautiful writings that I have ever read.

You brought me to where you were.

4:16 AM  

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