Mommy Nurse Wife and 25!

Monday, September 11, 2006

My story

Everyone has his or her own version of this story...Here's mine.

I was in my senior year of college, on my way to becoming a nurse. It was a Tuesday morning and we were starting our rotation on the Psychiatric Unit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. My only experience with psych patients to this point had been from behind the thick glass of the nurses station in my local ED where I worked as a CNA. I was scared shitless.

We were getting our tour of the unit when someone spotted the World Trade Center on TV. We all instantly recognized it but it did take a second or two to realize that something was wrong...the damn building was smoking. We paused for a minute or two, and continued on with our tour.

About halfway through our day my nursing instructor called us all to a meeting. We sat in a circle and began discussing what was going on in New York City. I can remember trying really hard not to cry but wasn't successful. I was crying for all of those families who didn't know where their loves ones were. I was crying for those poor people who were trapped inside those buildings. I was crying because my mother was flying to Florida the very next day. And I was crying for the firefighters.

At that point Donnie and I had been together only a few months. We fell head over heels in love instantly and had a special connection. I had only known this man a short amount of time and my heart was breaking at the very thought of him being in that situation as were other firefighters. I couldn't stop thinking of the wives, children, parents, and partners of the firefighters whose loved ones were on shift that day. What were they going through? The pain and worry was overwhelming.

We were dismissed early that day. As you can imagine, the images of the Twin Towers collapsing was just a little too much for the patients on the psych ward to handle that day. Why no one shut off the TV on the unit is beyond me...Perhaps it was for the same reason we all didn't shut off the TV, we just couldn't.

I remember getting home that day and finding my roommates on the couch (I lived with three other girls). They didn't move from that spot for hours. I, on the other hand, didn't even pause my day. I picked up my books and a snack and headed off to the library to study. After that, I worked on a care plan. I went through the motions of my daily life like that for 3 days. Only for a few minutes did I actually sit down and watch the footage, and that was only to be social with the girls.

Friday morning I packed up my car and headed home. One of Donnie's best friends was getting married that weekend and I told him I'd be his date. Right outside of Concord, NH there was a song on the radio. It was a Bruce Springstein song with voice overs from the tragedy. People were crying, screaming, commenting on what had happened. It was a beautiful piece of work. It was also the one thing that broke my shell. It finally hit me what had happened at that moment and I couldn't handle it. The flood gates opened and I started to cry. And cry and cry and cry. So much that I had to pull over to the side of the road.

I had gone through the motions of being sad but before that moment I hadn't really meant it. I think it was all too much for me to handle so I just kept busy to avoid dealing with my real feelings about the whole situation. Yes, I did cry and yes I was sad but it didn't affect me until that moment. Then I let me guard down and truly felt what had happened.

I learned a very important lesson that week. I am so good at keeping busy that sometimes I don't ever take the time to stop. I don't think this is a problem that only I face, I think it's sort of the norm in the American culture. I know it's something that I have to work on and I am trying.

So now, here I sit, five years later. Married, 3 kids, 2 jobs, and a different person than I was when those towers were hit. It's amazing what can happen in 5 short years, and it's even more amazing how quickly five years can pass. I can't even begin to think what the next five have in store for us...


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