Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's All About the Heroes

In the telling and retelling of the story of my perforation on January 8th, there is one question that is always asked.

"Did it hurt?"

The answer is always the same.

"Not until the paramedic said, 'Hang on, Ma'am, this is really gonna hurt,' 
just before he plunged a needle into my knee."

This is the story of how I we met again, exactly three years later.
photo by The Firefighter
 There have been anniversary celebrations and commemorations and speeches and films and discussions and bell ringings and flag raisings and I can't imagine that any of them were as moving as the simple event at the Nanini Library on Wednesday morning.

TBG and I arrived a few minutes before 10am.  There was a shiny (is there really any other kind?) firetruck in the parking lot, blocking the rows of white folding chairs, as crisp and straight as the firefighters and battalion chiefs and fire chiefs and sheriff's deputies and local police who milled about in the most orderly fashion, before taking up their positions in a semi-circle to the left of the flagpole.

Footsteps... in cadence.... drums... and then the bagpipes came into view.
They stood, silently, beside the hands-clasped-in-front-of-them first responders.
Silently, as we all sat, from 10am til 10:10... watching the shiny bell and the firefighter behind it... reliving the morning in my head....

Now Gabby's getting out of the car.
"Look at that - she accessorizes and you could too, y'know!"
Now we are getting into an orderly line, according to the sign in sheet.
"Of course you can  fill out the form.  You are a constituent. You'll get mail.  
Yes, real mail, addressed to you."

A man of a certain age, who should have known better, announced to the person on the other end of the phone that he was in the parking lot of the library at a memorial event for January 8th and despite the quieting stares from the audience he repeated his message a few times more.

Silence returned.  The aura grew again.
Doris and Jim were standing next to Gabby, Christina and I were noticing the photographer, 
and the bell began to toll.

Out of nowhere, at 10:10 am, there was an unexpected noise.

It went through me the way the bullets did.
19 times it rang.
I saw pictures in my head of each and every one of those humans.
I held Faith's hand on one side and TBG's on the other as the flag was raised and the pipes played Amazing Grace and I noticed nothing but us, bound together, 
until TBG suggested that we stand up and I realized that we were the only ones still seated.  

As one, we rose, and were embraced by the others behind us and before us and all over the city, doing the same thing.  It was teary and it was wonderful and it was brief.

Only, it gets better.

We went into the library to see the small-but-touching display case filled with memorabilia from the spontaneous memorials which sprung up around Tucson three years ago.  Filled with love and hope and positive energy, they were a good prompt for my three-sentences-to-the-media interview.  
"You made interviewing you so easy."
"I've been doing it for three years."

After hugging all who needed such attentions, we made ready to leave.
One of the pipers approached me as we approached the door.
He didn't want to intrude.
He didn't want to keep me.
He just wanted to tell me that he was the medic who worked on me that day.

"YOU are 'Hang on, Ma'am, this is really gonna hurt?'"

"Yes, Ma'am, and I'm so sorry."
It took me a minute or two to stop crying and hugging him and thanking him for saving my life and sharing him with the world's most grateful husband who had grateful tears in his eyes before I paused and asked him why in the world he was sorry?

"Because I hurt you.  I don't like to hurt my patients."

Is it any wonder I love this town?

My always-and-forever grateful husband and I spent the next few minutes reassuring him that honesty was the best policy, that I was very very glad he had told the truth about what to expect, that I had never for one moment expressed any anger towards him, that he was the focal point of my what-it-was-like-that-morning story, and that stewing over it. or anything else,  for three years was something never to be repeated.  I couldn't help it.  It was guilt in a kilt speaking to the Jewish Mother within.

We loved him.  We loved him before we knew him.  We would always love him.

I told him that seeing my son graduate from law school,
seeing my daughter marry,
being here to hug him right now,
was possible only because he had rescued me.

Sorry doesn't enter into it at all.

A whole lot of THANK YOU does, though.
For sure.


  1. How do you thank the person who saved your life? I have no idea, but just being able to hug him and tell him thank you was probably enough for him. One of the things I loved about your exchange with him is that you recounted the things that you were able to do because he saved your life. That in itself is a gift.

    Happy Thursday.

    Megan xxx

  2. And the tears fill my eyes and roll down my cheeks. Bless this man,oh Lord.

  3. I too am one of those people who has that weird kind of super-special someone in their life that I directly owe my life to. They single-handedly saved me I've been asked if it's strange or it bothers do I feel about it? That's easy, one word: GRATEFUL. Incredibly Grateful for what they did for me. I am also so incredibly GRATEFUL he saved you that day. Your story, your energy and your life inspire me and others. I know writing this stuff isn't easy but it does the world much good to benefit from it. So thank you for that, as well! God Bless...T

  4. You are all right.... Bless him and keep him safe!


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