September 11, 2001

By Linda Elissalde
September 10, 2001: Marcel picked the best tomatoes from his great vegetable crop in central Pennsylvania. He carefully wrapped each one in paper and gently placed each in a large, cardboard box. We mailed them from Houztdale, PA Post Office to fellow tomato aficionados Sharon and John Pope in Houston, Texas. This was after I had made my daily call to Round Rock Hospital in Austin, Texas. My dear friend Billie (Boo) Shadid was still unconscious in ICU. She had contracted Necrotizing Fasciitis a few days before Labor Day Weekend, 2001. I had never heard of that affliction. It is a deadly disease that usually results in death. Her condition varied from day to day, and the news was never good.

September 11, 2001: I made my morning call to the waiting room in Round Rock Hospital. This time her nephew Jay answered. Billie’s condition was fair that day. Then he said, “ An airplane flew into one of the Twin Towers in New York City.” I was stunned. All of a sudden, he shouted, “Another plane hit the other tower.” We knew this was no accident. I quickly hung up the phone and turned on our television. All was chaos. Then another plane hit the Pentagon. Last of all, a plane crashed south of us in Pennsylvania. What was happening? Were we at war? All air flights were immediately cancelled.

September 11, 2023: It is hard to believe that 22 years have passed since that momentous day. The results of the those attacks were horrible. Would the wounds even heal? What about my Boo? Billie was a true miracle. Because one of our hosts in Austin was Dr. Craig Couch, she was able to receive the very best care. Many months passed before she recovered, but she survived. Although she suffered the rest of her life from health problems due to having had Necrotizing Fasciitis, she lived her life with joy. I loved spending time with her trash talking and laughing over the phone. She was one of those quality people who are funny, good, and a great cook. Billie said that every day was a blessing for which she was thankful. We were able to keep her until October, 2020.

September 17, 2001: We received a phone call from the Popes in Houston. They had walked outside to find a box sitting in their driveway. They opened it to discover a container full of undamaged tomatoes.

September 11, 2023: The world has changed a lot since 2001. I miss those days before 9/11 even if they were not always perfect. I miss my friend Boo. But, we are here, and the sun still rises, and sets, across the Gulf of Mexico. Life provides many pleasurable moments. I try, like Billie, to be thankful for each day.

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