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Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Day After Remembering 9/11

Yesterday, like for many people, was a day to remember the lives lost on 9/11 twelve years ago.  A few days prior to this, I had been feeling a little out of sorts.  It was a mixture of grouchy for no apparent reason sprinkled with apprehension and sadness.  I was aware that the anniversary of 9/11 was approaching, but had not yet connected it to what I was experiencing.  I figured I might just be PMSing again.  Yesterday, a Wednesday, started off cloudy and a little chilly.  I walked Sebastien to school under my pink umbrella as rain poured from the heavens.  The city was literally blanketed in tears of commemorative mourning. 

There were several children dropped off by their parents far from the building and without umbrellas or other protective rain gear.  I was annoyed and sad that these little ones had to get soaked on their way to class.  In reality, I'm sure they were fine.  Children won't melt in the rain.  I have anecdotal proof of this from times I have allowed my own children to romp in the rain.  However, on the anniversary of one of the worst days in our nation's history, I was a bit sensitive and overprotective of everyone..even if they were not my children.

I received a few visual reminders that touched my heart and allowed me to understand how anniversary dates can impact our lives.  I woke up, prepared for my day, made sure the children were ready for school, 
and  took my children to school the same way as every other day.  But when I dropped off Isabella at Middle School, I saw the flag flying at half-mast and had an immediate physical and emotional reaction.  My stomach felt like I had been punched in the gut and I had to catch my breath.  I had an increase in heart rate and began to feel a lump in my throat.  I wanted to breathe, but knew that as soon as I did it would be necessary to release the tears that threatened to consume me.

Reminders were on news channels, radio talk shows, and documentaries throughout the day.  I saw three men holding up the American flag as they paraded across the crosswalks at two major streets in our area:  Academy and Galley in Colorado Springs.  On the corner of one street they had posted a USA sign in Red/White/Blue lettering with 9/11 date and the number of lives lost that day.  The opposite side of the crosswalk housed a sign with large USA lettering in Red/White/Blue that leaned against the crossing light pole.  Those gentlemen were there ALL DAY! 

Many cars honked and waved to them to acknowledge their tribute.  I again got a lump in my throat and felt tears begin to course down my cheek.  I didn't care if anyone noticed, because I knew everyone would understand.  There were many strangers I passed on the road yesterday, yet we all had one thing in common.  We all knew what those men represented, why they felt a need to be there all day, and how much we appreciated those few moments of solidarity.  It was a tremendous opportunity to reflect on what had been lost that day and the things for which we can still give thanks.

9/11 was significant for me because it was shortly after that my husband and I decided to start our family.  That day was a strong reminder that you cannot put things off forever and that life is precious. Our daughter Isabella Soleil was born almost 10 months after that historic moment.  I don't think anyone will ever stop feeling emotional about 9/11.  Every year we will continue to think about where we were that day, how it impacted our future decisions, and what we hope to accomplish in our life as the result of those heroic individuals who ran to assist in the aftermath of the crisis.  Their legacy of inspiration will live on forever.

So as you go about this "day after" remembering 9/11, I hope that you too will gain strength and inspiration to meet the challenges that happen in your life.  Anniversaries are a good time to reflect, remember, and reinvent who you are and want to become.  And if you have to have a good cry to release all those emotions that you tend to bury throughout the year, then let it happen.  You're not alone.