Almost everyone has a 9/11 story — especially those of us who lived in NYC at the time. Some of my friends’ stories brought me to tears. However, it was the story of a stranger that I have always remembered. Her story stuck with me as an example of perseverance, resilience, and heart all rolled into one.
It was shortly after 9/11 that I attended a conference (can’t for the life of me remember which one) and I sat next to, and struck up a conversation with, a woman whose name and story I never forgot — Susan.
You may find it odd that a stranger would share her story, or you may realize that it makes perfect sense. Whether you lived here in NY or not, lost someone or didn’t, everyone had a story and we all wanted to share our own because it was part of the healing process.
Susan was working for a financial firm in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Her company was planning a large event and she was leading the charge. She had the information on the sponsors, attendees, speakers, food orders, giveaway bags… every last detail for the event. On September 11th, all that information was lost.
Not having the information was just another detail Susan had to deal with, since the conference was still going to happen just a few short weeks later. She had to figure out who had registered, who had paid, and every other detail from catering, to materials, to speakers — and to recreate it all from memory. It seemed impossible. Yet she did it.
Remembering that story often gave me a push when I felt like I was pushing a rock uphill. I dug in and kept pushing, because nothing I was doing seemed harder than what she had faced and conquered.
We connected, but never really stayed in touch. So when I chatted with somebody with the exact same name in the ladies’ restroom at an industry meeting, I had to ask if she was the same Susan. It was she! She remembered me too, more than 15 years later!
There are two huge lessons I learned from this:
1. Your stories have an impact. You may not know how what you shared impacted someone else. But keep sharing — someone is listening.
2. Don’t worry about connections you’ve lost touch with. If somebody stuck out, reach out to them and reconnect. Life isn’t always going to make it happen like it did for Susan and me!
Do you have a story of resilience? Or is there someone in your life that you need to reach out to? Take a moment today to make a connection – either with me or with an old friend. I promise you won’t regret it!