23 May 2013
It was almost twelve years since I stood on the streets of New York City - amongst bloodied people, debris, dust and most of all fear. I have to admit that standing there, even on a bright and clear day, those images are what came back to me. Looking at this image of 1 World Trade and the new "Peace Tower" it made me realize that the feelings from that day are never going away. And that is ok. They will stay with me forever and hopefully it will make me always treasure my days and remember that life is a gift. Going there was a start to further healing. Eventually maybe I can make it in to the museum and see the names on the reflecting pool but this trip wasn't the time for that. I just had to go back and say hello - leaving a further conversation for a longer visit.
On the subway ride I began to feel the anxiety - I knew that this would be emotional but I honestly didn't realize how overwhelming it would be. As we exited the metro and walked up the stairs to street level, Dave turned to me and asked if I was ready, saying "we are going to turn this corner, and you will be there." I could only nod my head because I was afraid that opening my mouth to speak would just falter my reserve. And yet, without any words I turned the corner, looked up to this site of beautiful new glass and architecture, and immediately began to weep. D's words guided me along the sidewalk as I tried to focus on the here and now and not get lost in the sights clouding my head which were as vivid as it were yesterday, not well over a decade ago. We walked up into one of the buildings near by where we could sit and see in to the memorial area - I just sat there and said a silent prayer for those lives lost and thanking God for my life being spared. If I didn't have a plane to catch, I could have likely sat there for the rest of the day - just staring in. As much as I thought I could have gone there alone, I am glad that I wasn't. I am glad that someone was there to listen to me and give me a hug and then make me laugh with a dry sense of humor, reassuring me that as with anything life does move on. I think I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve and though I easily cry out of empathy for others, I do rarely let people see my own hurt. I think it has been good for me to be this honest and open about the effect that this day has had on me. Every moment in our lives shapes us, that which breaks us often strengthens us at the same time. Our challenges make us better people if we choose to find the message - if we search for the meaning of it rather than wallow in the pain of it. I wholeheartedly believe that the most significant moments and losses in my life have shaped me - being in NYC for 9/11 is just one of them. But because of those moments I live more freely, love more openly and search more diligently for the positive. When faced with a situation, we are offered a choice in how we respond to it. Ultimately we have the option to find the positive, however sometimes very well hidden under the chaos, or to succumb to the negative which is usually the less difficult option. The events of September 11th have no doubt been one of the most significant, life-altering moments that I have lived through and which has certainly altered my perspective of life. Sometimes the memories are vivid and other times they remain a little foggy in the back of my mind, but they are always with me. Everyday when I wake up grateful for a new beginning and every evening when I journal what I am grateful for that day, it is with me. I can only hope that it will never leave me - that it will continue to challenge me to find the positive and appreciate the life I was given to live. So please, whoever is reading this, accept the challenge I put forth to find the good in even the worst of times. Love with an open heart. Take risks. Take a chance on something or someone. Live every moment. Be grateful.