Many of my clients may not know this, but 9/11 had a lot to do with why I became a massage therapist. I was in high school at the time and my mom, a massage therapist/aromatherapist, had gotten involved with the Carolina Emergency Response Massage Team (CERMT – “Kermit”) and went up to NYC with the team in November of 2001. They worked on firefighters, counselors, the workers at the site as well as the landfill, and others. My mom had also sent a call out to all her aromatherapy associates for donations to disseminate to the people they touched and thus, the United Aromatherapy Effort was born. When she returned home she said, “I’m going back for Christmas,” and I said, “I’m going with you.” With this new project of giving out aromatherapy products, someone had to keep them organized and help educate the people we were giving them to what they were and how to use them. That person was me.
I spent 3 weeks in total in the city: a two week trip over Christmas and New Year’s and one week in February. Each time I stayed in a room with 4 other massage therapists. We had rotating sleeping schedules because there was on overnight shift at St. Paul’s Cathedral, right next to the site and the place of refuge for those cleaning up the rubble. I actually got to spend Christmas morning there while they had service. The walls were covered completely with handmade cards from around the country thanking those doing this difficult task, facing every day the remains of an event we’d all like to forget. As if we could.
Seeing the face of each person who sat in those massage chairs change from distressed to calm, depressed to comforted, during perhaps the most difficult time in their lives was enough for me. I knew this was the path for me.
In all the stories that have emerged from this tragedy, there is one beaming light that keeps making an appearance. Even the most destructive act cannot stop the hearts of those committed to creating positive change; it only ignites them.
This is something I will continue to remember.
I can't find words to describe how this changed my life. Suffice it to say I am infinitely grateful for a grand opportunity to help others in need and feel the motivating fire that lights the human spirit.