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“She is more capable than she ever imagined she could be. She is a survivor.”

By Jill Goldstein

It’s that moment. The split second between when you wake up and when you open your eyes. That moment when you pray that this was just a terrible nightmare and you will wake up. Then, it’s the following moment when you realize that this is real. This is happening. This is your life and it will never be the same.

I am watching a friend go through the same experience that I went through sixteen years ago when my husband was killed on 9/11. I see that desperation, the pleading, the hopelessness in her eyes, and I remember. I remember waking up the next morning and reality hitting me in the face like a violent wave that leaves you tumbling over and over until you can finally catch a breath. How would I go on? What will happen to my children?

I see that desperation, the pleading, the hopelessness in her eyes, and I remember.

I see the people, so many people in and out of her house, but she isn’t really there. Her body is sitting over there on the couch, but she is nowhere. She is lost in a blurry daze of grief, filled with doubts that she will ever think clearly again.

But she will. Minutes will turn into hours that will turn into days, then weeks, then months, and so on. She will realize that she is stronger than she gave herself credit for. She is more capable than she ever imagined she could be. She is a survivor.

I know all of this because I was her, and she is now me.

I watch the scene unravel today and wish I could give her the wisdom that has come to me with time, and for her to know that only time can make this crushing pain subside. It won’t leave her entirely, but it will become manageable. One day she will be able to take a full breath without it catching in her throat. One day she will laugh again. One day the memories will make her smile instead of weep.

I know all of this because I was her, and she is now me. Her suffering is just beginning, but I will help her see that this isn’t the end. Whether we want it to or not, life goes on. It just does. 

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