18 Years, Two Days, Two Worlds: A Brighter Note From 9-11-01

They say every generation has their “moment”. The one where you will always remember where you were when something took place. So far I’ve had two. The first was the Space Shuttle explosion in fifth grade and of course, 9-11.

There are so many things I remember about that day. Where I was, what I did, how I felt, and what I wanted us to do about it all.

But there was more going on in my life, too. My wife was pregnant with child number 3. Big pregnant, like about to give birth any day now pregnant.

As the day of 9-11 unfolded we were all in shock. Lots of stress and questions. Later that night while we slept Tammy punched me in the side. It was time. Like really really time.

As is her way, even though birth was now eminent, she donned some quick makeup, put her hair up and off we went.

By the third child a lady knows the process and she knows her body. Tammy said we should hurry.

At the hospital we made it to Labor and Delivery only to be met by a few well-meaning nurses who tried to put us at ease. “The baby’s coming!” she told them. They didn’t believe her.

After several rounds of this and them putting us off I finally leaned in to the nurses station and told the youthful lady behind the counter, “if you don’t want this baby to be born on your desk, I suggest a room would be in order.”

She blew her breath and trotted us down the hall … ALL THE WAY DOWN the hall … the very last room and started to leave. I stopped her.

“Aren’t you going to examine her” I asked pensively? “Nah,” she replied, “we’ve plenty of time.”

Tammy begged to differ.

After some persuasion we convinced her to at least see how far along we were.

I wasn’t sure if I should panic or be elated with affirmation, but either way, the nurse’s eyes almost bugged out of their sockets as she said, “DON’T MOVE!!” and ran from the room. We were having a baby.

Apparently the only person available was a sleeping intern who managed to get in the room and two arms in the gown just in time for Shaun’s triumphant entry to this life, not more than an hour and a half since the first signs of his arrival.

I never did get a discount from the Obstetrician since she didn’t actually do anything. But this isn’t the funny part. Just wait….

After the flurry of activity was over and Shaun’s ridiculously pointed head was lovingly washed and we were enjoying our newest addition, we noticed something odd. The nurses obviously hated me.

No, seriously. They were rude, short, gave me nasty looks, the whole bit. “What did I do,” I thought? I mean, after all, they were being exceptionally kind to Tammy … it was really just ME! Tammy and I even talked about it in the room. We couldn’t figure it out, but that was all about to change.

I had gone out to get coffee or a snack or something and the nurses seized the opportunity. Now was their chance to make this right again.

One of the ladies looked down the hall to be sure I was gone, entered the room and closed the door behind her. “Mrs. Parker,” she said so seriously, “we need to talk.”

You can imagine all the things running through Tammy’s mind at this point. Was it the baby? Was he, was she, was everyone OK? It was a blur.

Then the nurse finally mustered the courage, laying her job on the line to do what was right. She told Tammy everything.

She told her how just two days ago I had been in the very same hospital with another pregnant lady giving birth. We may have even been in the same room. The nurse’s outrage was apparent. She was willing to risk her very license to bring to light this terrible evil. To her I was obviously a scoundrel.

Tammy started laughing. Laughing out loud as if she had known all along! The nurse was sorely confused. She should be outraged! Yet, she laughed.

“Oh, no,” Tammy said between chuckles, “that’s his brother, Chuck. His daughter was born two days ago, on the 10th and the boys look alot alike!” More laughter, but not from the nurse.

She was mortified and embarrassed and rightfully so!!

I soon came back from the snack run, none the wiser. Suffice it to say the next day or so was the best care I have ever received while at a hospital. Oh, the apologies, cups of coffee, free snacks, and offers of anything I might need. These were good times. It isn’t the first time or the last time this has happened. Someday I’ll tell you about the time and angry parent thought I was their kids Little League coach.

Two kids. Two families. Two experiences. Two worlds. My niece was born on September 10, 2001 into a very different world than Shaun was on September 12, 2001. On her birthday we could never have imagined what the next 24 hours would entail. On his birthday we would no longer be able to imagine the world that existed just a few short hours before.

In the face of the tragedy, loss, and pain, I wanted to give you a brief reminder that even in the midst of such darkness, there are ways to see God’s mercy and grace. We can find ways in which to carry on, enjoy life, and be grateful for His manifold blessings.

Remember the fallen, rejoice in the living.

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