It was your basic Friday night, which meant I went out to dinner with my husband and enjoyed a good meal with an expensive bottle of fine wine.
And, I was responsible for the conversation. However, that could have described almost any evening.
Upon our return to the house, he would plant himself in front of the television and quickly fall asleep. Which was my cue to go upstairs to my home office and check emails. (It was 2004, so before everyone was tethered to smart phones.) On this particular evening, there was an email from my sister, simply stating "I need to talk to you about Nick as soon as possible! It's serious." She had sent it just before 10 p.m. and it was now almost 11 p.m. I started to call her, but then realized how odd it was that she sent me an email versus trying my cell phone or leaving a message on our house phone. So, I emailed her to call me when she got the message – regardless of the time.
I started to run through the various scenarios of what could be wrong with Nick. Taking into consideration that my sister was warm and fuzzy, and tended to be overly emotional (the fact she had gotten a degree in theater only made it worse), did not help narrow down the options. Until I focused on the fact it was a single simple sentence. That alarmed me. It was totally out of character for her, as typically I would have had to wade through all the words to find the key point. So, I immediately started to think the worst – he was seriously ill or had been in an accident.
Since there was nothing more I could do, I finished up some emails, did a little paperwork, and once the snoring had moved from the living room to the bedroom went back downstairs.
I am an early riser, so was back at my computer well before 6 a.m. and still no email from Red. But, when I finally heard from her and she let me know that he had been fired, I was relieved. It was not as bad as anything I had imagined. Plus, I had lost my job in the energy industry – not once, but twice (once due to a downturn in the industry and once due to corporate politics), so did not find the situation overly dire.
OK, so maybe she was looking for sympathy and/or a compassionate response … but I have been her older sister her entire life. She should have known better. And, to this day, even though I have told "my version" of this story to thousands of people at speaking engagements, Red still laughs at herself for being surprised by my initial reaction.
We had barely introduced ourselves when the newspaper editor held up our book, gesturing to our "two-faced" logo on the front cover and said something along the lines of …
Ok, off the record, admit it, you embellished the characters in the book to be more entertaining.
When we finished laughing, we explained …
Certain days are etched in your memory. All earning a place based on the significance of the event – some good, others bad. I will never forget 9/11. I was out of town on a business trip and when I called my crew chief that morning to talk about the transport of my race car, he asked if I had been watching the news. Obviously, I had not. And, as I turned on the television, I saw the plane crash into the second tower.
I am not one to be glued to the television – nor am I one to be overwhelmed by emotions. But I could not help watching the news, almost non-stop. Looking back, I think it was because I was trying to make sense out of what I was seeing. Watching with horror and heavy heart as the day unfolded, looking for an explanation.
There are many images that still stand out in my memory. Interestingly, the most vivid ones are the ones that reflect how we, as Americas, stood together as a people. The first-responders rushing in while people covered in dust and debris wandered shell-shocked. Poignant pictures of President Bush at Ground Zero. Firefighters and EMTs from around the country working together.
The American people stepped up to help in whatever way they could. Whether it was donating blood or raising money for the victims and rescue workers. Or, simply prayer. People attended impromptu candlelight vigils and participated in moments of silence. We demonstrated our patriotism and belief in the ideals of our country. Of Democracy. People flew the American flag at their homes and even on their car antennas, while others pinned it to their clothing. Not to mention all the t-shirts.
People gathered together. Sometimes to pay tribute to the dead. Sometimes to honor all the first responders. Sometimes to share their grief with others. And, sometimes because they just did not want to be alone. I was stranded out of town as all flights were grounded but did not feel alone. And, although all of us felt differently in what specifically to do in response to the attacks, we seemed to agree that standing together – a sense of unity – provided hope in this horrible time.
||New Year's Eve seems like the perfect time to stroll down memory lane, although I'm guessing your memories are much more interesting than mine.|
||"Interesting" is a subjective word. Regardless, are you talking about memories in general? Or, New Year's Eve celebrations?|
||Actually, it was just a passing comment. But since you've always seemed to make a bigger deal out of New Year's Eve than I have, are there any years that really stand out?|
||Truth is the most memorable ones are the ones spent with celebrating with closest friends versus crowds. In fact, I think I have spent more than half of my New Year's Eves with John and Diana. Although, I will never forget bringing in 2000.|