The Reason for “Why?”
by Amy Cox
It goes without saying that most of us will always remember where we were 13 years ago today, on September 11, 2001. I was at home sleeping. Danny and I had only been married for 3 months, and my kids and I had moved out to the country to live a new type of lifestyle, where we had a few cows and horses, and even had a tractor to mow the 18 acres. And yes, I could drive it. I did not wear overalls, and might have looked silly to some wearing lip gloss and nail polish to drive the “brush hog,” but I still got the job done, and I looked good while doing so. I had already gotten up that morning and taken the kids to school, and having quit my job to get married and make the move, I now had the luxury of being able to climb back into bed, if I wanted to, and get a little more sleep.
My husband, Danny R Cox DVM, had already left for the day, and I was startled when the phone rang so early that morning. I answered it to find my friend Yolanda calling. We had worked together in the travel industry for many years, and she is a dear friend of mine. She asked me to go and turn on the TV, as the staff there at the travel agency was hearing radio reports that something was happening in New York City. She wanted me to go and watch it and report to them on what I was seeing. Now, keep in mind, this was 13 years ago, and while the flat screen TV’s of today are great, we had a huge old fashioned version of the same thing. It seemed the size of a small car, and you had to sit a distance from it to be able to see a clear picture. Half asleep and dazed, I got up and turned on this TV monster and sat down on a table sized ottoman that we had in front of it.
I wasn’t sure at first what I was seeing, and I was trying to speak to Yolanda on the phone and figure out what was going all at the same time. The first tower had already been hit by the aircraft, and it was being reported that a small plane had crashed into the building. While relaying all of this to my friend, the second plane hit the South Tower. Now, this whole scene that was unfolding before my eyes was surreal to me, and I felt as if I was watching this in slow motion. I wondered if this was an action adventure movie, and decided that Yolanda and my fellow former co-workers must be playing a joke on me. Call Amy, wake her up as she was now a “free spirit” who didn’t have to report to work anymore, and play a joke on her and see what happens. That is what I was thinking, and I repeatedly told Yolanda that this was not funny.
Well, as we all now know the sequence of events that was to follow, that day literally changed the world and how we live in it and with our fellow man. There have been a few world altering events during my lifetime, and while I do not know why they happened, they have played a role in how I function and interact with the rest of the world, some actions imposed on me by governmental agencies and organizations, and some created by me in order to feel safe and comfortable in this world.
When this event happened, I had not ever been to New York City. As a Leisure Travel Specialist with an elite travel agency, I had been all over the world and to some rather exotic locations, yet I had never been to what many people consider the grandest city in the world. Yet, as the days unfolded after 9/11, I felt like I was a part of that city, and while I watched the media reports and read the stories from afar, I felt as one with the city and the “New Yorkers,” a group of people that I had always admired for their spirit, their nerve, their colorful personalities, and their great accents. Maybe a reason I felt so close to them was because I have been described as such, hearing those same words used many times. And while I have no idea how anyone could think that I have an accent or that I am “colorful” in any way, I have always said thank you and have been proud to be included, in my own mind, with a group of people that I have always thought very highly of.
Fast forward 13 years and many adventures later. I have had the great pleasure of visiting New York City many times within the past 4 years, at various times of the year and for several different reasons. Some trips were for pleasure, some were for business, and always involving animals in some way or another. You see, in these past 13 years, the animals have become my passion, my reason for being. While I have always loved the animals, something exploded inside me this past decade, and as my Mom has asked me before, “where did this come from?” I have no explanation, and I don’t feel the need for one. I am just thankful for whatever trigger happened within my soul to get me to this point. I smile proudly when I overhear people call me an “animal nut” or question my sanity as they watch me interact with animals, whether mine or someone else’s. It does not matter to me, I make the animals happy and they in return make my heart soar. What a great thing, wherever this passion developed, and I am thankful to have this animal affliction coursing through my body.
This anniversary is important to me at this time and I write about it now because 2 weeks ago, leaving on August 27th from Dallas, I had the wonderful opportunity to be able to play a role in helping a 9 week old puppy from the small town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I help with animal rescue, make her way to her new family awaiting her arrival in Stamford, CT. Her name was to be Spa, and she had been driven from San Miguel de Allende, where I live part time, to Austin, TX., where I drove to greet her after her 15 hour car ride from Mexico. I immediately drove her back to Dallas, another 4 hours, where we were able to relax and rest for a few days before her first plane ride to the grand city of New York, where her new Mom and Dad would be waiting. Knowing that I am able to be a part of an animal’s journey down a path leading to their new life is a gift that is immeasurable to me, but I can tell you that I am so very proud and honored to help these creatures, both animal and human, as they begin a new chapter in their lives together.
And, while in New York, I would be celebrating my birthday, and that is society’s chosen word – celebrate – not mine! Danny and I had made some great plans, including some with the lucky new parents of Spa, who were overjoyed at her arrival into their home. I look forward to sharing more of her amazing story in the near future. Danny and I had already been to the 9/11 memorial fountains several times over the years, but had heard that the new 9/11 Memorial Museum had recently opened, and as I related back to my “oneness” with New York City, I felt compelled to go and spend some time there. We invited our friends from Stamford, transplanted “New Yorkers” of many years who had just recently moved out of the city, to join us. After getting Miss Spa situated in her new comfy crate and promising her that her new parents would come back soon, we made our way to the 9/11 site and planned a nice afternoon, with a great steak dinner to follow later that night.
As I walked through the museum and tried to keep breathing, and while I pretended that I was not crying, I was struck by one large display room in particular. It was a large room, very large, with another central courtyard room within it. In the larger room, on the 4 surrounding walls, was an 8×10 picture, along with the name, of every victim of the 9/11 event. I can tell you that it is one thing to hear the number of victims and to even see the names etched on the ground zero footprint fountains outside, but to actually see all of their faces, rows and rows and rows of pictures, is another thing all together. I am not often at a loss for words, but I found myself just standing there, while looking into the faces of these thousands of people there before me, knowing that although their image was there, as was their spirit, they were no longer here with us in our world that was left behind that terrible day. I noticed how many pictures were wedding pictures, family Christmas photographs, and professional images taken for their job or graduation. All major events in their lives, a day that they were proud of, and now, here they were, featured on a wall for me to see, and they were there so that I would never forget them and what they stood for.
Within that room was a smaller courtyard room, and when entered, you heard recorded messages that had been left by many of the victims on family and friend’s answering machines. Most of the voices were calm, and while we now know that those were their final words, they did not know that when they placed those calls. I stood there and listened, and quite frankly, I had a hard time even standing up. I thought about those who came home that afternoon to hear those messages and how they must have felt, and how important those final words are to them today, and now for the world to hear.
And then it struck me. As I stood there, I suddenly wondered how many animals had been left behind when their “humans” did not return that night? I thought about those pets who might have had an owner that did not have an immediate family member or friend that was able to check on them, or even knew that they existed. I wondered where did these pets go, where were they placed, if no one wanted them. While I have not ever seen any statistics on this, I was consumed with the thought about these pets and how they survived after this event. Why had I not thought about this before? The world knew that family and friends of the victims were left behind, but what about the animals? Did someone tend to their needs? I believe that animals grieve, and as I stood there and looked at the faces of 9/11, and listened to some of their final words, I started to realize that the victim’s animal family members were also affected, in ways that many people might not understand. Was I wrong to start thinking this way, especially after all of these years? Why had I not thought about this before? Perhaps I am more of an “animal nut” than I thought. And while time has past, and because of the number of years that has transpired since 9/11, most of these pets have probably gone to Heaven to be rejoined with their human, and that brings me peace.
And yes, I needed to feel peace. That is okay, I admit it. I am not being selfish. Just as I felt that morning of September 11th, 2001 while watching this tragedy unfold on TV, I was now feeling dazed again while seeing all of this, only I was there, in the fabulous city of New York, which I had always associated with a spirit of life like no other place on Earth. I wanted to feel good at that moment. Knowing that these pets, the cats and dogs and hamsters and turtles left behind had been thought of and had been cared for, gave me the strength to help me make my legs move, kept me breathing when my heart was pounding out of my chest and helped to guide me and make my way out of the museum, back onto the streets where all of this had happened.
I walked out knowing that this museum, created due to one of the worst tragedies in our history, had done exactly what it was supposed to do. It made me remember, even when I did not want to. It made me cry. It made me think about what was important, and it made me expand my thoughts, some that had not ever occurred to me for almost 13 years. It made me realize that perhaps this was going to be another trigger in my life and only enhance my already strong efforts in helping the animals in need, in whatever capacity that I can. And it reaffirmed my lifelong thoughts about the people of New York, and now the entire world, and how the spirit can stay alive, if only we allow it to and make the promise to never forget that it exists. And, it made knowing that my birthday the very next day was all the more reason to celebrate, instead of worrying about my life passing by and getting older. I should celebrate, for I am alive and I have so much more to do, for the animals. They need me, I am their voice, and I am loud and proud to represent them.
I do not know about you, but when events like this have happened, over my lifetime, through all stages of my life, I have asked myself, “Why?” While I know in my heart that the real answer will never be revealed to me, I would like to think that there is a purpose, and that if we each look into ourselves, perhaps we can find our own answer and make use of it. New York City survived, and they showed the rest of the world that it was okay to move on, and to search for your own way to make a difference. And while we should never forget, we should be joyous in our life and pass that on to others. I have chosen the animals to bestow my gifts upon. Go out and find your own passion, and lift your spirits, and be thankful for all that you have and that you can give.
“Give whatever you can, to whomever you can, whenever you can, for not only will you be changing their life, but you will be changing your own.”
Blessings to the animals and their keepers.
Amy Cox is a president of The Paws Cause, an organization that rescues animals in Texas and central Mexico. She is a Board member of the Sociedad Protectora de Animales in San Miguel de Allende (Mexican version of SPCA). Amy and her husband, Danny Cox, are making the world a better place by operating The Shot Spot, providing mobile, low cost vaccinations and the Zeutering procedure, a pain-free, non-surgical way to neuter male dogs. They also provide veterinarian services through The Pet Vet at Petco.
Learn more about The Shot Spot: www.theshotspot.org
Learn more about The Pet Vet: www.thepetvet.com