The reflection below is written by Tiffiny Gulla, a woman who survived the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. It comes from today’s Magnificat, and for those who have already read it, I beg your indulgence. With the backdrop of my memories of that day, I find her faith remarkable. I know you will, too.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner. Anne
On September 11, 2001, I was standing on the corner of Liberty and Broadway. I remember suddenly running through a smoke cloud down the avenue toward the water to get away from the building collapsing, but I hadn’t even realized it was collapsing. We thought maybe the collapses we heard were bombs exploding. The combustion from the smoke and inertia was throwing people against the walls and mailboxes but, for some reason, I was able to keep running and, at a certain point, I was “transported” four blocks ahead. Those of us having this experience still don’t know how we flew so far ahead in a few seconds.
Someone needed to take care of packaging up our out-of-town employees’ personal effects in our corporate apartments downtown – they had all fled their apartments. I volunteered to go back in to work on this. But, by the third day of the aftermath, I was waking up with hugely swollen hands. I was also bleeding from the nose, and had other symptoms of mercury poisoning, like many others. We went immediately into treatment to sweat out the toxins. But some of my symptoms remained. Within ten days, I got the worst possible diagnosis: scleroderma, which is an overproduction of collagen. This is a fatal autoimmune disease, with mortality usually within ten years. It causes a hardening of skin and organs – a scarring of tissues, noticeably the hands and face, but the internal damage is worse. Maybe it was the treatment, or maybe I have a genetic disposition…Whatever the scientific reasons, I know that God allowed me to have this for a reason – this awareness dawned on me within minutes of hearing my diagnosis. This is because of a path I had been on for some three years before the disaster. In 1998, I had begged him to show himself more in my life, and from that day he has been preparing me for this, my cross. I went on with great hope and promise, which came from another.
My mom who has been battling cancer for years, had a hard time for a long while, but now she is able to accept it. She was so used to enjoying all my successes and my energy! I tell her, and everyone, that if you are in a relationship with God, he will never ever let you down. Why get angry or be afraid when you can talk to God, pray about it, and he always answers! This is the new gift of “seeing” that I have now.
Tiffiny Gulla, Magnificat, Vol. 14, No. 7, pp. 153-154