How often do we race through life so fast, with activities, work demands, and other events, that we don’t enjoy each and every day? Then something happens, something so deep, that it shakes you to the core and helps you to remember how precious each day is. When I was in New York two weeks ago, something just like that happened.
We were on the sidewalk directly across the street from the area of the World Trade Center, when all of a sudden, there was a lot of commotion. Taking a few seconds to try to figure out what was happening….we realized that there was a woman lying on the sidewalk with people all around her. Right behind us there was a group of teenagers sobbing. We quickly learned that the woman on the sidewalk was a beloved choir director from out of town and the kids sobbing were her students who had come to NY to perform that evening at Carnegie Hall. She had suffered from a major heart attack. We found a person who looked to be in charge and asked her how we could help. Splitting up into different groups, we found ourselves sitting and praying with these teenagers. We all felt so helpless as the emergency crews arrived and began trying to save her life.
After she was taken away in the ambulance, we said once last prayer with the group and gave the group leader a hug and then just started walking….stunned by what we had just experienced. Just a block from where we were was St. Paul’s Chapel, the little chapel that stood when the towers came down, without so much as a broken window. We went in, so grateful to have found this little church…..the perfect place to be after watching someone fighting for their life. In this little chapel, there were reminders of all of the people who had come together after 9-11, as well as memorials. We sat there reflecting not only about the woman fighting for her life on the sidewalk, but also about all of the lives lost just across the street from where we were standing.
That evening, not knowing what else we could do, but knowing that we needed to find out how the teacher was doing, I called the police station nearest to where we had been. The officer was so kind and told me that he had just been working on her card. He was able to tell me the hospital where she had been transported. From there, we were able to call the hospital and learned that she had been admitted to a local hospital.....admitted! As I hung up the phone and we all celebrated, because we realized that since she had been admitted…..that meant that she was alive.
Still so much in our thoughts, we learned that last week she had been discharged, and yesterday I wrote her an email just to let her know how much we cared and had prayed for her. I received the most beautiful email back from her today….telling me that her students had performed at Carnegie Hall that evening, with the support and love of all of the chaperones. She began her email - Life is truly amazing and I'm glad I'm still here to enjoy it!
Through all of this….I have thought so much about the fragility of life. What if today was your very last day on earth? How would you spend it? Would you be able to leave this world feeling like you lived it the way you wanted? Or are there things you feel you need to change? I know for me, the experience I had in New York was an important reminder that we need to slow down and enjoy our family and the things that matter. Through the life of this teacher, my own life was impacted as I realized yet again how important every day really is, both to count our blessings but also to try to make a difference. Have you ever had a wake up call such as this one? How did it impact you?