Sunday, September 11, 2011

A legacy

On the History Channel last night, on the eve of September 11, Matt and I watched "Voices From Inside the Towers", which was a collection of audio records, mostly recorded phone calls from people inside the buildings - some of whom perished and some who survived - as they contacted family members, friends, 911 dispatchers, and TV stations. I don't remember names, but all of the stories were so touching and almost difficult to believe.

One of the survivors was a computer programmer. He was in the South Tower (which was the second building to be struck).

After the first building was hit, and while so many unknowns remained, this particular survivor had decided to leave his building, but before he did, he headed back to his desk to call his wife to let her know that he was on his way to see her.

They played the audio of his phone message to her. He was able to identify himself in the message, and then immediately after in the recording, you can hear the second plane hit his building. He continued with his message very hurriedly with a sense of panic, and thankfully, in the end, he made it out of the the South Tower just moments before it collapsed.

The audio is incredible, but what is most memorable about this man and his story is that, after 9/11, he became so disenchanted with the business world and what his life had become because of it, that he went back to school and became a nurse.

I wish I would have recorded his words because they were so eloquent.

Essentially, this survivor made the decision in 2003 that he didn't want a second opportunity to have thoughts, during [what he thought was] his impending death, of not having done enough while he was here on this earth.

I am confident that his thoughts aren't very different from many of those staring death in the face, but it is such a strong reminder to me that we are here for a very short, unidentified amount of time. Our time here really shouldn't be about us and what we accomplished in life.

Should it?

Yet, isn't it? 

My father passed away at the age of 60 from natural causes, a few years before 9/11. My Dad was a hard ass, and he was a hard worker. He was a perfectionist, Type A man with a work ethic like no other. Yet, he was socially responsible, sensitive and very in tune to the needs of those around him. Dad was selfless.

At my Dad's memorial service, even with all of the pain and emotions that I felt at his death, being 7 1/2 months pregnant with Audrey, it was incredible. People lined up for hours to pay their respects. The stories were awesome and his impact on his world was somewhat surprising to me, because I just didn't know...

There was much I knew about my father, but the best parts were learned after his death. The life lessons he taught, the giving he did, the helping hand he repeatedly lended, the intangible gifts he gave... Pure awesomeness.

If I were to die today, I don't know that I would be remembered in that way.

I pledge to change that.

Every day, I should be able to wake up and think of how I can be a light to someone else with less focus on me. Through my time, my talents (I use that word loosely) or the tangible gifts I have.

There should never come a time when I feel that I have done "too much". Never. I always have something to give.

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