911 Operator

by Todd Nigro
Ellie was lying on the floor. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but it didn’t look good. I called 911. A friendly voice answered and inquired about my emergency. She remained calm and did her best to help a desperate father watch his daughter fall asleep forever. Her voice was with me in the scariest moments of my life.

A few weeks after Ellie’s tragic accident, I felt compelled to personally thank all the wonderful people that helped us through the experience. We delivered a poem with words of thanks to the fire station, police station, funeral director, and emergency room staff. I didn’t know who that 9-1-1 voice was, but I wanted to let her know how much she was appreciated. I called the county emergency response facility and left my information and asked for her to call me.

Weeks passed by. I thought that maybe it wasn’t allowed to make contact, kind of like an adopted child with his real parent. Then, one day I received a call. A very weak and sad voice introduced herself. “Hello, Todd, I was the 911…”, then she began sobbing and crying. She struggled to finish, “911 operator”. I could tell that she was devastated. She had been wanting to call for weeks, but just couldn’t. Ellie’s death had taken a huge toll on her. I told her that I had a gift for her and we arranged to meet at Starbucks.

I was sitting outside on a chilly sunny afternoon. A nice young woman walked up and we introduced ourselves. She sat down and we talked. I asked her how she was doing. She told me how she had been shaken and was afraid as she had one child, a daughter, the same age as Ellie. Our situation revealed how precious life is, and how quickly it can change.

She told me “my daughter is my world”. I had learned very fast the danger in that kind of thinking. My family was my world before Ellie’s death. I put all my hope, dreams, and love into my wife and kids. Then, in an instant, I had lost my daughter. Then, my wife was gone too, as her grief consumed her for quite some time. All my eggs were in a basket that was disintegrating before my eyes. But, the great news is that I had reached out to our Father, and began a relationship with Him. I knew that there was eternal hope with Jesus Christ. Faith, hope, and love were sustaining me and helping me to love and serve others even during painful grief and loss.

I described my faith and gently shared that I didn’t fear anything, as I had been through an unthinkable experience and was still here and able to feel God’s love. I knew that Ellie was a gift to us. She was a blessing and it was her time to go home. I shared my heart and God’s amazing love for her. She listened. I gave her a beautiful picture of Ellie with a poem and a handwritten thank you note. It felt that a burden had been lifted and that her heart was beginning to heal through our meeting.

She came to church with us one time and also attended Ellie’s first angelversary celebration with her daughter. I thank God for those wonderful people that serve us all in our deepest times of need. Thank you 911 operators and God Bless You!
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