I remember a lot of that day eleven years ago, but more about the days after. Vividly, violently confronted with the previously unimaginable, people in the NY metro area clung to each other in their horror and grief. From this vulnerability came tenderness and kindness.
In the days-weeks-months that followed, I remember reading reports on how many took definitive actions. Actions that affirmed who you were, what you believed in, and what you wanted from your precious, remaining days here on this earth.
Some enlisted, others made life decisions they had been dallying with, deciding to marry-or divorce; to have children, or to change jobs. Six weeks after the attacks we bought a house.
Last year the media here was brutal, beating the sensationalistic drum for the tenth anniversary remembrance for a month before. Inescapable, I was conflicted and angry-what, I’m not sad or grief-stricken enough? and guilty-with such close proximity to NYC, how was I spared any direct loss? and how can whatever I feel be of any importance, compared to what the friends and families of those that were killed have to live with every day?
Loss, grief and ways of coping are all very personal. While I respect and honor others’ feelings, and their time table, just being passively sad does not work for me. I feel it’s a waste of the wonderful gift we have, when we wake up every morning with oxygen in our lungs.
My good friend Heather does a 9-11 memorial stair climb, where she prays while reading the names of those who were killed, while climbing 110 flights on the Stairmaster. I like that a lot. And I love that more and more this time of year calls attention to service.
As much as we wish otherwise, we cannot change the past, we can only shape the future. Using the memory of that terrible time can collectively spur us on to make better days, and help us to live our best life on September 12th…January 10th…April 30th…etc. Taking action. Giving back.
Each and every one of us can ‘do’ something, even if it’s quiet prayer, or sharing a kind word or gesture with a stranger. Those in the Hudson Valley looking for a more substantial connection could find it in The Volunteer Center. They match your time, talents and interests to a specific local need. They are also a year-round entity, so no worries if your availability does not coincide with a memorable day. Kindness matters…pass it on.