By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — September 11, 1978
Joyous anticipation of a new life entering the world and a family abounded as a grandmother, sisters, in-laws gathered at the hospital on this blissful afternoon. First-time parents awaited their miracle, this child that signified their love and dedication.
But there was trouble and the unborn child struggled for survival as the cord that had furbished her growth now began to strangle her. Fear of the challenges ahead for the tiny child, as an incubator sustained her, was utmost in the hearts and minds of the family. The tension was thick and countless prayers were uttered as the waiting room vigil dragged on for hours. Good news finally came. The hope of better to come was the relaxant that finally brought them to rest, only to rise again with fortitude for this happy beginning of a new life that would bring much happiness to the family legacy.
September 11, 2001
The world watched in shock as the massive towers thought to be indestructible crumbled to the ground as flames soared from within and above. The screams of terror and the sounds of death rang into the hearts of all who witnessed the horror, as media outlets ran and re-ran the unbelievable tragedy that had befell our nation. Those who survived ran for their very lives, chased by the soot and ashes of the fiery buildings. Thousands were not so fortunate and the vigil that echoed of terror and death launched around the world. Soon after, more deaths and tragedy as the protectors of our nation were targeted and again, we were gripped in fear. Minutes later, the fourth — and final — vengeful act exemplified the strength and faith that defines this nation as desperate Americans stood their ground and although sacrificing their own lives, diverted another proposed attack on the nation’s Capitol. Among the sorrow arose hope, strength, and the fight to survive.
Mesmerized at the surreal events that brought the world to a halt, reality jolted like lightning as the horror unfolded before our eyes, and the vigil to rise from the ashes began. Hours and days turned into months, as the losses continued to rise and the effects of a senseless slaughter horrified the world.
Through the ashes and the tears, the prayers and the discoveries, came recovery and strength, shining as bright as the torch above the historic statue that watched over the tragedy.
September 11, 2013
A slight breeze whirled the American flags that adorned the homes and businesses of rural and urban America as the memories of a fateful day in world history dawned. As the sun set behind the horizon, a family gathered together with a dying loved one whose condition had worsened. Panic and emotion overcame logic and the family reached out for help. The successive flow of headlights approaching the residence reflected against the dark of the night as loved ones dreading the inevitable gathered in fear and apprehension. Throughout the night, the vigil continued as loved ones made a progression in and out of the residence, waiting and wondering.
Throughout the night, the steady stream of family members lent support to those who had witnessed the decline, as the near silent ticking of the clock toward midnight marked yet another day to remember. Through the semi-consciousness of the dying woman, the “Happy Birthday” wishes brought a smile to the wrinkled and pain-distraught face.
Reflections of her life, her caring and giving, were topics of discussion as other family members arrived to share in the final hours that would define their memories, not of the pain-wracked body that lied bedfast in a nearby room, but of brighter, happier and healthier days. Whispered prayers were for relief, for comfort, for this dying woman whose life was defined by her strength as that very characteristic slowly drained from her struggling body.
Still the vigil continued.
The unending and unrelenting spiral of love and family is the core of her legacy that, even in her last moments, is the message she leaves to those left behind. Grasping their hands in hers, she whispers the words they know and dread, as they wait for her pain and suffering to end. The question of when is held only by the Giver of Life and the care and prayers ask only for mercy. The vigil continues, with hope only for her peace and comfort. But the strength exemplified by her life, the hope that surged through her soul, and the love that surpassed all trials is the foundation of what will carry her loved ones through this vigil.