Marcy Borders emerged from the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, covered in dust. She was a 28 year-old woman that had recently started a new job. She survived that tragic day but her life was forever marred by her experience like so many others. Many of us can remember precisely where we were the day thousands of people senselessly lost their precious lives. I remember the sense of despair I felt as I waited to hear if my cousin who worked in the Twin Towers was okay. She had gotten to work late and fortunately never entered the buildings, but she lost co-workers. Ms. Borders famous image, captured by photographer Stan Honda, was seen around the world and garnered her the name, "Dust Lady". Unfortunately Ms. Borders succumbed to stomach cancer on August 24th of this year at the tender age of 42.
When people survive tragedies we tend to romanticize it. How glorious that they made it out of dire circumstances with their lives. Our perceptions are so influenced by the Hollywood happy ending that we choose to ignore the traumatic aftermath of a near death experience. Post Traumatic Syndrome does not only affect the soldiers who survived the battlefield. It is something that everyone who survives a tragedy or experiences a traumatic event, can relate to. Ms. Borders' life after the Twin Towers fell was not a "happily ever after". She became depressed and began smoking crack, no doubt to numb the pain. Prior to passing on to the next life, she was unemployed and lacked proper health insurance as she battled the Big "C". Many of those that emerged from those buildings have died due to illnesses that some believe were brought on by the toxins that inhabited the Towers. I believe the stress of surviving such a horrendous event can eat away at someone and as the mind struggles with it, the body itself begins its own battle.
As we prepare to mourn the lives lost on 9/11, we must remember those who survived and are continuously struggling with what happened 13 years ago. Their lives were shattered and they are still piecing them together the best that they can.