There are moments in time, both glorious and tragic, that we keep close to us. I can remember to the minute exactly where I was twelve years ago today, September 11, 2001. We scrambled to the only PC in the office that had internet access and waited as the world as we knew it changed into something horrifying and unbelievable. We hurried home to our televisions, trying to make sense of something none of us ever imagined. We saw confusion, carnage, and acts of bravery that words alone could not describe and lived with the immediacy of it all for weeks. To this day, Barber’s Adagio for Strings brings to mind the unvarnished sadness of that Monday morning.
I remember where I was when we heard the news about John Kennedy, at my desk in Journalism class stunned as the announcement came over the PA system. Thirty minutes later my psychology instructor broke into tears so overwhelming that she allowed us to leave to “wherever you want to be right now”. One day later, a good friend’s mother passed away. We went to her funeral and came home to watch the funeral procession to Arlington. Less than 18 months later, my own mother died. Many years later, I rejoiced at my dad’s wedding…and years after that was at his side when he left us.
Yet as much as I can tell you about these pivotal memories, I can relate the glorious times as well. Where I met my husband….you might laugh with me at the fact that it was actually in the back seat of a car on a Sunday evening. Our first date was a week later, this time as pedestrians, walking around the campus of Illinois State University. I remember being so nervous on our wedding day that I thought the incidental music was the beginning of the processional and then felling very calm as I realized the groom was actually more shaky than I was. And I know too those moments when my daughter was born and I looked into her eyes for the first time.
Like most people, I have photographs and memories of my life and those who share it, whether for the long journey or just a commuter hop. They make me laugh, smile, tear up, and generally appreciate the fact that I am fortunate. Blessed. I can’t chase time or make it stop, but I can open up the bottle that holds those memories and know that while there is sadness, there is also joy. And peace.
Twelve years ago our world was shaken to the core. We must always remember. We must always honor those who gave their lives, not just on this day but on those days and weeks and years that followed.