What a strong feeling the above photo sends through me as an American. These symbols of strength, hard work, and dreams for our lives make my heart swell with pride in our country, solidarity with other Americans, thankfulness for life here in a FREE country. In simple terms: We are lucky. No matter what did happen, we are still lucky as a whole.
Today I woke up just like any other day, got my kids ready for school and scurried them out the door. Once I was all alone in the house, in the quiet, I sat down like I do every other year since 2001 and thought about this day. This anniversary of tragedy. The memories that I can’t erase. The grief for people I’ve never known.
And I wondered….will there ever be another September Eleventh in the history of my life that my heart will not clench, my throat will not tighten and the tears will not squeeze out from behind my eyelids and roll down my cheeks? Will the memories ever not be quite as sharp? Will the ache in my heart and stomach start to dull over the years?
It’s been thirteen years! Thirteen years and the pain still remains the same. The shock is still there. The tragedies haven’t changed and they won’t.
But you know what? I’m thankful for a heart that hurts when I remember it all. It means my heart is delicate still and kind and empathetic. And when I see so many people that also feel the same, it gives me hope for this world. Because it means there are so many more people that also have delicate, kind and empathetic hearts. That is our hope in this situation. The hope that love is still out there and winning over the hate.
It’s so hard to explain to my kids without bawling my eyes out what exactly this day means to me. I could show them the graphicness of it all, but they are not ready for that. I don’t know if anyone is ever ready for that, come to think of it. How do I portray the emotion and complexity and magnitude of what happened on this day before they were born? How do I explain to them that moment in my life that I first felt true terror and horror? I think I should consider myself lucky to have gone 23 years before I first felt terror like that and I hope they have to go much, much longer before they ever encounter it. But we don’t know the future.
I want them to understand it as fully as they can so they can learn softness and not callousness, so that they can learn heroism over cowardice, so that they can learn understanding over dismissiveness. My number one hope in all of this life is to teach them to be like Jesus. Loving and holding on to tolerance towards those that are not like them and kindness in the face of harshness and hurting when someone else is hurting.
I watched this clip from Jon Stewart, filmed just nine days after 9.11.01, and it sums up everything felt in my heart about the attacks on our country. And they are so poignant and heartfelt, I feel like I can just leave you with his words here. (Click the link below.) Thank you for reading.
And if that’s not enough to restore your faith in the world – view these photos of what happened around the world on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
(If you are curious to read my 10 year anniversary post on where I was on 9.11.01, click here.)