The story you are about to read is true. I have written it to the best of my memory. I disclose some personal information here that I am not ashamed of, because I am a survivor and God’s daughter.
On September 11, 2001, I went to take my daughter, then 8, out of school because we were leaving. I was leaving my abusive husband, who had tried to kill me. I had to do this while he was at work. My best friend and her husband drove us to the airport in Denver and saw us off. I had $20 to my name. I had only a few bags with our clothes in them. My sister-in-law had purchased our plane tickets. I, of course, was battered and bruised and could only walk so fast and only carry so much because of the injuries I had sustained. My son, who is 20 now, was only 5 then. He was frightened and didn’t want to leave. When we were on the plane, the captain came over the speakers and said that we were being grounded and that was all the information he could give us now. The weather was fine, I couldn’t or didn’t understand. I just wanted to get to my sister in Wisconsin, I was exhausted and in pain. We were grounded in Cleveland, Ohio. As we got of the plane and walked into the airport, people were in a frenzy, running this way and that. A lot of us didn’t know what was happening until we saw the tv’s and the buildings on fire and tumbling down. They replayed over and over. We were all in shock. My children were tired, scared, and hungry. I had $20, so I bought them each a meal and I went without. I’d prefer they ate, I wasn’t really hungry anyway. I would get looks as I walked with them through the airport because of my battered and bruised body. I couldn’t hide it. But no one stopped to help me. I didn’t expect it because I could see everyone was in their own nightmare as well. The world’s nightmare, was also the day of my own personal nightmare, as it was for many that day.
We make our way down to the baggage claim to claim our luggage. We tried calling my sister, using a calling card and every time I got, “All circuits are busy, please try again later”. This was before cell phones were so accessible and popular. I mean not everyone had one, like today. Anyway, I made a little fort with our luggage and told the kids, “Do not leave out of this area”. I just wanted to rest a bit. I wanted to just scream and cry out but that wasn’t my style. I sat and took it all in. People rushing by and being picked up and I had nowhere to go or anyone to help me. That’s when I looked up and for some reason, I watched this woman walking in from outside and I watched her as she looked left, then right, then came right at me. She said, “Hello, my name is Virginia and I saw what happened on tv and I felt the need to help, but I don’t know how”. I said, “Yea, well I don’t know what to tell you”. I didn’t want to hear her problem, as I had my own. Remember, this is before I knew God or had any faith in Him I should say. She looks at me and says, “When I saw you and your kids it was ‘impressed’ on me to help you.” I didn’t know what that meant (at the time). I instantly thought, this lady is crazy. She kept talking to me, half I payed attention and half not. She said, “You look like you need my help, let me help you please. I’m not a crazy person, I just want to help”. She went on and on and I don’t know what made me say yes, but I did. A complete stranger. She said, “When we get to my house, you can call your family, give them all my information so they know where you are.” When we arrived, we did just that. Her house, was huge! She had a swimming pool, she was alone, and was the nicest lady I have ever met. I felt almost guilty for thinking she was crazy. But, these days you can never be too careful. Now, I know why I said yes. Then, I didn’t understand why I had said yes. Anyway, the next day she had decided to drive me half way to meet my sister at a truck stop. She took us to her job, in a building, she put us in a conference room and said, “Wait here”. The memory of her and what she looked like and the building we were in is now a haze. She gave me her email and name, I still have the paper. She and another woman drove us half way to meet my sister. I just wanted to arrive because I was so exhausted and in so much pain. My kids were tired, scared, and didn’t understand all that was going on. We eventually get to my sister and we thanked her so much and she left, just like that.
About a year later, when I was a bit more stable and had a job and my kids were doing better, I found the paper and decided to send her an email. I wrote a novel, I sent it and got an undeliverable message. I then looked up the company, whose name was in the email address, and they said they didn’t know who that was. I said, “Are you sure?” I explained what had transpired on 9/11/2001 and still they had no clue who I was talking about. I was baffled. Then thought, maybe I misread the email, but no, it was what it said. I told my sister and she said, “That’s weird.” And it was, is, weird. Back then I wondered to myself, could it be? An angel? I don’t recall her ever really talking to anyone else but us. She lived alone, and I know there was another woman with her, but who? That’s what I still don’t know. Now, I’m not saying this is why I couldn’t send that email or get a hold of her, I’m just saying, could it be? If I knew then what I know now, I would have known to have immediately accepted and spoken with her more. With this event, I look back through all my life, from before that date, after, up until now and can see all the times that He had saved me from sure death. For a reason He continues to do so. I never thanked Him back then. I may have said thank God, but didn’t really thank Him. Today at church I was expressing my thankfulness during worship and He ‘impressed’ on me, like He had ‘impressed’ on her that day, to write and tell this story. When I think of that day, it breaks my heart, but I know that He was there with us that day and that now gives me comfort.
Hats off to all the survivors and first responders on that day, especially the victims and their loved ones they left behind. May God bless all of them.