I kept saying I was nuts going to Central Park to see the Pope but in the end, my day was filled with blessings.
I knew that I would wake up Saturday morning achy because of the long hours of standing. I knew I had a run on Sunday and that Monday I would be in twice the pain I usually am in but I am always the person that says, “Let’s see what happens.” And then I move through my pain.
I didn’t have to wait until today to find out how much pain I would be in as the minute my daughter and I walked into the door, the looks on our faces that greeted her dad, my husband, said it all. We had prepared for this, so we took the required baths, did the required stretches and into bed we went.
I woke up this morning and knew that it was worse than I had anticipated. Even blinking hurt. As I stared into my ceiling I contemplated canceling my 11 am Tribute tour. I had 5 hours before I had to actually get out of bed and three of those would be devoted to getting ready and getting on two buses to get to Tribute. After my morning soak, I decided, the visitors did not have to pay for the decisions I made and it really isn’t fair to cancel at the last minute. It’s not fun when the staff has to figure out who is going to lead a tour if there aren’t enough docents to do an extra tour. So one leg out of the bed, then two and the rest of my body battled my mind, forbidding it to move, but move I did.
As luck would have it, walking slowly to my bus stop was not a choice this morning. As I walked out of my building, there it was, the express bus and if I didn’t run to catch it, I’d have to wait another half hour for the next one. I didn’t mind doing that if my body was being nice to me but it wasn’t and so I ran or at least that’s what I told myself I did. It was more like the dance routine that Elaine did on an episode from “Jerry Seinfeld” except it looked like I was about to take off in flight with no particular pattern. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty.
But I made the bus and that’s what mattered.
I usually have my bus routine. Depending on how I feel, is what I play on my IPOD. I was feeling pain and there was no music for that. So I shut my eyes. Before I knew it, the bus driver was looking at me telling me it was the last stop. He must be mad, I thought. I just got on the bus. I looked out the window and the tall bulky man who I’m sure had no pain whatsoever, was correct. I didn’t know that blushing could hurt as well.
I still had to walk two blocks for the second part of my trip and now my legs decided to join the rest of my body because they were upset that I made them run again this morning. Now this second bus takes forever, which is why I have to leave as early as I do, otherwise I will arrive late for my tours.
You guessed it.
As I was on the corner, the light was about to change and what was on the opposite corner waiting to make its stop?
The second bus!!!!!
Please legs be kind to me, I prayed. I didn’t do Elaine 2.0 but I invented it this morning. But this time I did not close my eyes. I listened to my favorite disco music and imagined myself dancing the night away the way I used to when I could do those things. It hurt my brain too.
Now I still have to walk 6 blocks to the Tribute Center. One step at a time. Today was the day that people were not happy to walk behind a slow-paced woman who did a 3.5 mile walk/skip and whatever else I did yesterday. Sorry was the word of the day for me. I arrived to Tribute and treated myself to a BLT. Yum! Except it hurt to eat it too.
It’s Monday. Everyone is back home. Small tour. Yes, I wouldn’t have to speak too much and the group would be small and I can get back on the bus and get home and soak and….
“Sonia, would you mind if we add 4 more people on your tour?”
“What do you mean 4 more? How many are on the tour now?”
“Oh we have 28.”
Really?? I mean Seriously, in all Seriousness… come on world… give me a break…
“Sure. I have a support. No problem.”
“Sonia, do you mind if we add a few more. They said they did a tour with you last year and thought they’d take a chance that you’d be here today.”
“Sure. What’s a few more?”
“Well, we’re at 32.”
I give up. I’m here. Let’s do it. My partner knew I was in pain and he said he’d carry the pictures and the headsets. I decided to warn the visitors that I was sore from the run. I didn’t want them to think I was Elaine.
“Sonia, ummmm how far can we go?”
Forty-two visitors later, we were on our way to the Memorial. The weather was perfect and my pain was now going to take a back seat. I had more important things to do.
Because yesterday was the Tunnel to Towers run, I wanted to share with my visitors about the importance of the run. I wanted them to understand that out of tragedy, out of intense sadness, good was born. I told them about Stephen Siller and what his family does every year and almost every day. I told them that this year, my daughter decided to do the run with me as each year she has planned to and something always came up. But this year, she promised, she would no matter what.
It was very emotional for her to see the firefighters holding the pictures of the 343 firefighters who were killed on 9/11 when she got out of the tunnel. We shook hands with them all until we both stood still and saw a man with the picture of someone very familiar to us. Police Officer Stephen Driscoll. “That’s not possible, ” I whispered to my daughter. “This is for firefighters. Always has been.”
This had to be a mistake. As we got closer, we began to cry. It was real or as my daughter would say, “Its really really real, mom.” I walked up to the officer and tried to ask… “How? When? Why?” But the words wouldn’t come out.
He seemed to understand …and said, “It’s the first year.”
You can see from this picture that I’m trying to smile or perhaps trying not to cry.
The young man in the picture was one of my husbands partners. We realize, even though we didn’t know it then, that we had just ran for Stevie.
I shared that with the visitors today and I didn’t care about holding back my tears. It didn’t matter. I told the visitors what the Siller Foundation has done. How they have been shown the world what they have done with their pain, with their loss; how they have carried Stephen’s Siller legacy throughout these years and how we should never forget that out of a day that threw hatred our way, the goodness of people was born. The best of humanity grew in leaps and bounds.
When the tour was over and we got our hugs, 2 men came over to speak to me.
They were from the Siller Foundation.
Today, I was where I was supposed to be.