I wrote this a few years ago, thinking about terrorism and the 9/11 attacks on the United States. It was a moment that changed lives and made all of us stand still for a moment to reflect.
September 11th… every year since the big day our country was attacked we memorialize this day. We pledge not to forget, we talk about where we were when it happened and how that day is carved into our memories. We won’t forget, we won’t allow it. The names of the victims of that terrible day won’t be lost to those who knew them, but to most of the population their names weren’t ever known.
What we remember is closer and more personal. We remember us, where we were, the clothes we were wearing, and the people we were with. Some remember the music that was playing, the panic that ran over us as we tried to frantically collect the people we love close to us so we can watch over their safety. 9/11 is always going to be a day that those of us who are old enough to remember recall the nightmare of emotions.
But it should be about something more. How have we grown since day? What changes have we made?
My brother died suddenly and it cast me into a deep reflection of life. I know where I have changed, mostly for the better.
12 years ago I was a new wife, still learning how to be part of a partnership and not a one woman army. I was still blissfully in love, but starting to poke at some of the edges of the honeymoon phase. I loved my husband but the thrill of being a newlywed was wearing off and we needed to learn how to work together.
That day I turned to him in terror as my hero. He needed to have the answers to my irrational fears and calm me. He was the one to race from the city towards home to grab our boys from school while I stayed home with the baby and tried to get in contact with all of our loved ones. He was the one who started making emergency plans as I gathered the information as it came in.
12 years have passed and we aren’t fighting the partnership anymore, now we feel this connection between us that often makes us feel like it is us against this world of ours. The honeymoon wore off and what settled in became a deeper sense of US. We know each other’s weaknesses and our strengths.
I still count on him to be the rational one and I can be the one who gathers all of the pieces together. We have grown much stronger and I am so thankful for the test of our characters that day.
That morning I stood in my family room with my daughter asking for Blue’s Clues, now unable to give her the routine she counted on of singing songs and playing while I cleaned up the breakfast clutter and started the laundry thinking of things I would rather be doing, now I dug in deep as a protective mother. These 12 years have taught me to be strong and not fear change, it comes without warning.
I felt the rise of helplessness as the buildings crashed down and people died in front of my eyes. Now I feel no longer helpless but empowered to get involved in my community and know my neighbors. I watched as NYC became a small town and held each other up. I wanted that sense of connection in my own life and joined others who also shared that need to become more connected to others outside our doors. I now welcome routine and quiet mornings.
These last few years have taught me that people can and will manipulate any situation for their own greed. There are no off-limits to the things that people will do to steal, lie, and corrupt. Unlike the playground where my boys were playing that day, there are no time outs and no home bases where you can stay “safe” until you are ready to run.
People will always use fear and tragedy for their own good.
Today instead of tears for the life you had that day and the sadness of terrorism, find the changes in your life that have come from it for the better. Who have you become in the face of a changing world?