in my mind, i will always remember that day as the most gorgeous day i'd ever seen...right up until the moment that i got my best friend's phone call. juxtaposed against the crystal blue sky and perfect, cotton-like clouds was the news of planes, of buildings, of people flying to their deaths, of smoke covering a city, of terror, of loss. that day started out like any other and ended in black smoke rising into that perfect sky, in tear-soaked faces, racing hearts, knotted up insides, and nightmares of those planes...and buildings...and the people. God, the people.
when i meet someone new, one of the first things i want to know about them is where they were that day, what was going on in their lives, how they feel they were changed (or not), and whether it turned their road in a different direction. the one thing that seems to join every person's story is that they remember thinking it was the most perfect day. they always mention that blue sky and those beautiful clouds. the irony....how perfection can turn into your worst nightmare in the blink of an eye.
ten years have passed since that day and, as for me, i still cannot be around tall buildings without thinking of destruction and of people jumping. and although i have flown a few times, i still don't like seeing aircraft fly overhead (in the back of my mind, there's always that moment of wondering), and i still think about how many children lost a parent, how many parents lost a child, how many people just never came home from that day.
i would like to think that the sentiment of coming together and holding our loved ones a little tighter would have stuck with us all, but i'm not sure that it really did. other than the inconveniences (which are minor, at best) of not being able to bring shampoo on a plane or of standing in longer security lines and getting a pat down, much about the american way of life went back to 'normal.' on some level, that shows the strength of the human spirit—the ability to move on—but what worries me is that it also shows our collective way of avoiding and glazing over and pushing feelings back into the recesses of our consciousness. please don't get me wrong: i'm not suggesting that everyone should sit around thinking of atrocities all day long, but in life God gives you opportunities to change your way of thinking...to make better decisions...to stop in your tracks, pivot, and head in another direction. and to me, that day was such an opportunity. and, what's more, i worry that, as a nation, we may have missed it.
my hope for this country is that we can seek to put a little of the spirit that emerged (at least for a short time) from that day into our every day. that once another ten years have pased, our politicians would be slightly less of a disappointment to us all because maybe, just maybe, they'd really work for the common good rather than greed or power or personal gain. that more communities would band together and put an end to some of the day-to-day evils that plague our cities and towns. that more parents would come home for dinner with their kids, insist that the video games and tv shows be turned off, and that there would be real dialogue about feelings and thoughts and what it means to be a loving person. and that really, at the heart of it all, there would be fewer and fewer reasons for the people who plot these devastations to continue their quest to destroy us. i'm not so naive as to believe there will never be conflict in the world, but i'm also a big believer in not inviting it upon yourself if it's within your power to control on any level.
these may be pipe dreams, but as a citizen of this country, i have a part to play. we all do. it's our responsibility to live the kind of life that makes us worthy of respect. it's our calling to lay down our lives for one another and to love from the heart. and it's our job to remember those who have given something up for the freedoms that are in no way 'free.' and beyond all, to those who left our american 'community' that day because of the choices of others, we must keep their memories alive. they are the friends we never got the chance to know, the lives cut short along the journey to something greater. i carry them all in my heart, from that day until now.
and with my tears and my laughter and the life that i lead, i will never forget.