Friday, September 11, 2015

Always Remember

It was a typical early September morning. The night cooled off a bit, but the rising of the sun brought summer-like heat. I'd finished graining and grooming my horse. I didn't mind the dirt and the sweat. One of the other boarders arrived and told me a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers. I didn't know her well and thought it a sick joke. The owner of the property came out and added that the other Tower had been hit, as well as the Pentagon. As I listened to them share information, I realized they were telling me the truth. A part of me wanted to believe they were playing a trick on me, but a part of me knew they weren't.

I still had work to pickup. I drove with the radio on and my windows rolled down. Every car on the road was listening to the same thing I was. No one in the offices knew, and I hated being the bearer of such awful news.

One of my friends was a pilot. The news wouldn't reveal which airlines were involved. The guilt of feeling so selfish was a battle all its own. I prayed for those who lost loved ones.

This wasn't the first time, but it was the worst.

I arrived home from picking up work around nine, noon Eastern time. I turned on the television and left it on for the next several days. A flag has flown at the house ever since.

Several of my friends lost people they knew. A month later, I discovered a cousin was supposed to be at a meeting at the top of one of the towers but was taking his parents to the airport.

In April 1986, the US bombed Libya. A few days later, I flew to England. Most people had cancelled their trips. There were only a few of us on the flight, so few one of the flight attendants asked us to share why we were flying. The attendants all admitted they needed the pay. Every passenger was returning home, except one. She was meeting her military husband in Germany. I was the only who didn't "need" to travel. They weren't sure what to make of me. They asked.

"If it's my time to die, it won't matter where I am. I might as well be doing what I want to do."

What happened to that brave young woman?

I returned home and gradually withdrew. The ravages of life-long abuse caught up with me. Complex PTSD and other health problems took their toll. Coping skills I'd learned as a child didn't work as an adult, let alone long term. I struggled to be brave.

On 9/11, that brave young woman awoke. I still didn't know what to do with the mess of my life, but I wasn't going to fade away. On 9/11, I discovered I wasn't nearly as alone as I'd believed, but I had to leap outside my comfort zone to find where I belonged. It wasn't what I imagined or expected. I'm still learning.

On 9/11, I reflect on those who lost their lives, everyday people. When I heard about the plane that flew into the ground I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the passengers had done something, something brave. I wondered, would I have been so courageous? I think of the people who lost loved ones, an empty place forever at the table. I think of strangers helping strangers. I endeavor to be more like them.

I want to live my life fully, difficult but not impossible. I want to miss those I've lost. You see, there was a time I'd so thoroughly walled myself off that I barely noticed the passing of a life. Now, I miss those I've lost and those I don't see as often as I'd like. It's a good thing. I want to help strangers. I want to appreciate those who do the hard stuff. I want to appreciate those who do the mundane everyday stuff. I want to be grateful for life. Sometimes, I'm successful. Sometimes, I'm not. Every day, I'm given the opportunity to be who I want to be, who I believe God always intended. All I needed to do was choose and trust Him to help me.

Always remember. Never forget. God bless.


  1. I was working in a camera store when I heard the news. We kept getting calls from family who were watching the news, and it sounded surreal. It couldn't be! It was like a movie--too extreme to be real life in North America.

    That's amazing that you flew the very next day! And so very brave. I'm still nervous to fly. I do, of course, but that day changed everything.

    1. I actually flew a few days after the US bombed Libya back in 1986. Hmmm... need to correct that. After 9-11, all flights were grounded. My house is a 15-minute drive from the airport. I'm used to hearing the planes take off every few minutes. It was surreal to not see a single plane in the sky for days.