Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Death and Panic

There’s been a lot in the news today about the terrorist attacks in the U.S. five years ago. As I listened to interviews of victims’ families and friends, I tried to imagine what it must have felt like to be standing at the window of an office in the World Trade Center tower after a plane had hit it. Would I accept that death was imminent and calmly resign myself to my fate? Would I run around in a blind panic trying to get out somehow? Would I pre-empt fate and jump out the window?

And what about the people on the plane that crashed into a field instead of its intended target? The passengers fought the hijackers and forced the plane down before it could get to a populated city and kill more people. Would I have tried to kill the hijackers to save more lives, even if it meant sure death for me? Would I have clung to hope that I’d get out of it alive?

I can’t imagine what mind-boggling terror and panic those people must have felt, knowing for sure they were going to die any second. They didn’t even have time to think about what was happening to them.

I know my days are numbered, but I have time to keep living a normal life, and even have the hope that I’ll live to a pretty decent life span. There are times I imagine what it might be like if my cancer comes back and no treatment will fix me. There I’d be in my hospital bed, knowing I had only hours or minutes left. I think I might panic. I’d want to cling to my kids and not let them go. But for their sake, I know I should put on a brave face and smile and leave them with a happy memory of my last moments. But knowing I’d never see them again, knowing they’d have to grow up without me, knowing that I was heading to a great unknown, I think I’d panic. I hope, though, that I’ll have the sense to jump out the window like some of the people in the World Trade Center towers did -- figuratively, of course.

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