18 years ago I stood at the bottom of a huge spiral staircase at my new grad school in Texas, with professors and other students, their mouths agape, mine, too. The towers were on fire and our country was in the midst of an ongoing attack. A line was drawn forever for us: before and after.
The day was a blur and at some point after floating tearfully, fearfully through classes and homework, I ended up at the same restaurant I sit at now, writing this post, to work the evening shift. The mood was so different here than it is today: quiet, reverent, somber. Today people sit typing away, smartphones dinging, work meetings, laughter. In a lot of ways, life has continued, even though our world was changed forever.
Less than one year after the attacks, I visited Ground Zero. It was all so overwhelming that I decided to find one thing I could hold on to in my mind. My eyes settled on a single photo, much like this one of my own twins in their high chairs. The words under the picture said, “”look how big we are now, daddy.” And, there I cried.
I wrote about the twins here and I am still thinking about them and praying for them every year. In fact, they are usually among my first thoughts on September 11. “God, be with the twins.” They are finished with high school now, beginning a life away from home, maybe. I think of their mom who raised them while nursing her own grief. And years later when I had my own twins, and it was so hard, I thought of her and 9/11. And I remember him. A life lost. I don’t know his name, or how he died. But this family matters, as does every life lost and sacrificed that day.
Today, we can be solemn, we can be loving, we can REMEMBER and honor those who died. Today, we can declare that no matter what divides us politically or otherwise, we are a country that is better together.
…and maybe today can turn into tomorrow and the next day and the next day.