Brace for Impact: Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Share Their Stories of Near Death and Hope for New Life

Overview

What Passengers of Flight 1549 Want Others to Know About Second Chances

"Brace for impact." Three simple words that proclaimed to all 150 passengers on board US Airways Flight 1549 on that cold, crisp New York afternoon of January 15, 2009, that their plane was about to go down in the icy Hudson River. Three simple words that churned up their fear that the next two minutes would be their final moments on earth and spurred their most heartfelt, spontaneous prayers. We all know ...

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Brace for Impact: Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Share Their Stories of Near Death and Hope for New Life

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Overview

What Passengers of Flight 1549 Want Others to Know About Second Chances

"Brace for impact." Three simple words that proclaimed to all 150 passengers on board US Airways Flight 1549 on that cold, crisp New York afternoon of January 15, 2009, that their plane was about to go down in the icy Hudson River. Three simple words that churned up their fear that the next two minutes would be their final moments on earth and spurred their most heartfelt, spontaneous prayers. We all know about the stunning tale of survival against all odds that followed.

But there is a different, more meaningful, and more timely story that has yet to be fully told. What happened to these passengers when they went home to their families, their homes, their jobs, and everything else familiar but somehow not the same? What has been the real impact, not of a disastrous crash but of a gift of a 'new' life? What can any of us learn from the honest and open sharing of ordinary people who came back from the brink of death?

Brace for Impact answers these questions and more by taking you inside the hearts, minds, and souls of twenty-five passengers and first responders and what life is like after near death.

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What People Are Saying

Jack Canfield

"Brace for Impact is one of the books that reminds us that life can be made better, by our own awareness and our own choices. Twenty-five people became better people after their "Miracle on the Hudson." Reading their stories and the positive themes woven throughout this book, remind us that we can all become more grateful, have more faith, love more fully, and live lives of meaning."

—Jack Canfield, Co-Creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul® series

Molly Brown
"Through these inspiring interviews and stories, we learn first hand how people facing death can reach out to help others, and find new meaning and purpose in their lives."

—Molly Young Brown, author, editor of Held in Love: Life Stories to Inspire Us Through Times of Change

Neil Chethik

"When Brace for Impact landed on my desk, I couldn't put it down. It guided me into that rich, poignant territory at the boundary of life and death. It's beautifully written, soulful, and ultimately wise."

—Neil Chethik, author of FatherLoss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms With the Deaths of Their Dads

Abby Seixas

"Isn't this what we all want . . . to cherish one another, and to remember, without needing the threat of tragedy, what matters most in life? The wisdom gathered in this beautiful book is a powerful invitation to all of us to live with more love, more joy, and more gratitude in each precious moment we've been given."

—Abby Seixas, author of Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman's Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life


"Isn't this what we all want . . . to cherish one another, and to remember, without needing the threat of tragedy, what matters most in life? The wisdom gathered in this beautiful book is a powerful invitation to all of us to live with more love, more joy, and more gratitude in each precious moment we've been given."

—Abby Seixas, author of Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman's Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life

Molly Brown
"Through these inspiring interviews and stories, we learn first hand how people facing death can reach out to help others, and find new meaning and purpose in their lives."

—Molly Young Brown, author, editor of Held in Love: Life Stories to Inspire Us Through Times of Change

Jack Canfield

"Brace for Impact is one of the books that reminds us that life can be made better, by our own awareness and our own choices. Twenty-five people became better people after their "Miracle on the Hudson." Reading their stories and the positive themes woven throughout this book, remind us that we can all become more grateful, have more faith, love more fully, and live lives of meaning."

—Jack Canfield, Co-Creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul® series

Neil Chethik

"When Brace for Impact landed on my desk, I couldn't put it down. It guided me into that rich, poignant territory at the boundary of life and death. It's beautifully written, soulful, and ultimately wise."

—Neil Chethik, author of FatherLoss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms With the Deaths of Their Dads

Abby Seixas

"Isn't this what we all want . . . to cherish one another, and to remember, without needing the threat of tragedy, what matters most in life? The wisdom gathered in this beautiful book is a powerful invitation to all of us to live with more love, more joy, and more gratitude in each precious moment we've been given."

—Abby Seixas, author of Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman's Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780757313578
  • Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/5/2010
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 809,762
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Quirk, is the author of Not Now, Honey, I'm Watching the Game (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 1997), which was featured by ABC's 20/20, CBS, NPR, Redbook, Men's Health, the Washington Post, and more than 100 other media and Internet forums. A former sports journalist with the Charlotte Observer and a former correspondent for Sports Illustrated and the Boston Globe, Kevin now assists dozens of clients with memoirs, autobiographies and other nonfiction book projects through A Writer's Eye. Visit the author at awriterseye.com or http://braceforimpact.hcibooks.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Preface

When I lived in the Hudson River Valley, I loved taking long walks along the Hudson in all four seasons. I always thought there was something different about that river. Something majestic, something old, something . . . mysterious. That's what I was thinking while I watched one of the evening news magazine shows two days after the Hudson River miracle plane crash on January 15, 2009. Like millions of people everywhere, I had seen the initial reports and needed to see more. The more I saw, the more mesmerized I became.

Then I thought about Charlotte, the planned destination of US Airways Flight 1549. I lived there for seven years while a sports reporter for The Charlotte Observer, back when newspapers were still vibrant and Michael Jordan was a college kid. What must it have been like to be sitting in that plane heading to Charlotte and winding up crashing in the river, then walking away from it, I wondered. As I learned more details about just how unfathomable this whole near-death experience had been, I felt a stirring. What just happened here? What did it mean?

'You have to write a book about this!' my wife, Krista, blurted out.
'I know,' I said. 'It's the passengers. . . . There's something here, something important.'

As a counselor, personal historian, and teacher of memoir-writing classes, I have long been drawn to explore how dramatic life experience can serve as a gateway to a profound new perspective or approach to life. But how would I even find these 150 passengers? What would I say if I did find them? How would I earn the trust of people whose lives had just been turned upside down by a combination of terror and jubilation, all about a half-hour apart? How would I explain why I wanted to write such a book, and why on earth they might consider joining me?

Two days later I was making initial phone calls. I tried to find the right words. 'I do not mean to disturb you during this traumatic time,' I would begin. 'It's just that I feel this . . . calling.'

And so began my connection with dozens of passengers of Flight 1549. I followed a trail that led me on many twists and turns. When the task of somehow bringing together a sizable group of passengers who hardly knew one another initially appeared too daunting, I worked with one passenger. Then, as they began to bond in cyberspace and in person, I shifted course and reached out to a larger contingent of survivors and first responders.

With the scope of the project expanding, I knew I needed a partner to assist me. That was an easy choice: Dorothy Firman, a friend and colleague who had coauthored three of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Thankfully, she said yes right away, and she kept saying yes through the many days and weeks when she could have found so many very good reasons to say no. I can't imagine anyone who could have more clearly grasped what this book was about, and what it could be, nor anyone who could smoothly cocreate pivotal decisions while in the midst of a long trip to Russia, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, presenting on her own books.
Momentum for our book began to gather, then disperse across different paths, then gradually return in a new configuration. All along we held to an idea. All along we have felt honored and deeply appreciative of the connections we have forged with these wonderfully 'ordinary' people from Flight 1549.

Now they are here, willing to share who they are and what happened to them, and to try to make some sense out of this celebrated second chance at life. They're here because one way or another they too sense that there's more going on than an uplifting story that captured a public starved for positive news in troubled times.

None of us can know, of course, but we wonder. Not just about the details but the meaning. Could it be that the more we open ourselves to the inspiring lessons and messages this miracle may hold for us, the more our own hearts will be stirred? Could it be that somewhere in those poignant images of passengers standing so peacefully and confidently on the water-covered wings lay the seeds that can help us find the courage, strength, and faith that we as individuals and as a nation need today?

That's what I wanted to explore from that moment two days after the miracle. That's what I am continuing to explore. And that's what we invite you to explore with us.

—Kevin Quirk

©2009. Dorothy Firman, Kevin Quirk. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Brace for Impact. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

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Table of Contents

Preface v

Acknowledgments viii

Part I Beyond The Hudson

Chapter 1 The Real Impact 2

Chapter 2 Awakening to Purpose: Lessons for Us All 9

Part II Life Is A Miracle

Chapter 3 Heart of Gratitude Barry Leonard 20

Chapter 4 Why Am I Here? Bill Elkin 34

Chapter 5 Angels in the Kitchen Lucille Palmer Diane Higgins 44

Chapter 6 Remembering What Matters Warren Holland 56

Chapter 7 Circle of Love Darren Beck 63

Chapter 8 Family Ties Michele Davis 72

Chapter 9 Soldier of Faith Mark Hood 82

Chapter 10 Being There Scott Koen 90

Reflections 98

Part III A Time To Learn, A Time To Heal

Chapter 11 Something Good Brad Wentzell 104

Chapter 12 Being the Survivor Maryann Bruce 114

Chapter 13 Seeking the Sully Moments Matt Kane 124

Chapter 14 Respecting Your Fears Don Norton 133

Chapter 15 Slowing Down Debbie Ramsey 144

Chapter 16 Coming Home Billy Campbe 153

Chapter 17 Healing and Healed Ray Basri 162

Chapter 18 Knowing When to Go Back Vicki Barnhardt 170

Chapter 19 Embracing Community Glenn Carlson 180

Chapter 20 Trusting Yourself Bill Zuhoski 190

Reflections 199

Part IV Sharing The Gift

Chapter 21 Hugging Like You Mean It Beth McHugh 204

Chapter 22 Speaking from the Heart Dave Sanderson 214

Chapter 23 Giving and Receiving Hilda Roque-Dieguez 223

Chapter 24 The Power of Story Gerry McNamara 233

Chapter 25 New Miracles Claudette Mason 243

Chapter 26 Dreaming of Tomorrow Jerry Shanko 252

Reflections 260

Part V A Miracle To Build On

Chapter 27 Ripples 264

Chapter 28 Going Forward 272

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