Before 9/11, my 9/11 was the day I stepped off of a train into Seattle, a place I had never been but had decided to make my home. The skies were blue and I couldn’t believe I had randomly picked a place that was so beautiful to call home.
On 9/11, I was pregnant with my first child and I was terrified and stunned that I’d be bringing new life into a world like this one.
And now it’s 16 years later and that new life is almost 16. She’s gorgeous and smart and funny and calm and sometimes terrified and sobbing. She’s the most amazing creature who I’m lucky to know.
And the world is still terrifying. Every 9/11, I’m frightened that something equally as horrific will happen in the name of 9/11. And then I think of my friend Aletia. I think Facebook posted that it’s her birthday today. Well, it’s kind of her birthday as every fall the blue skies remind me of her strength in facing cancer while raising two girls. Now she’s no longer in this lifetime but often when I’m holding a pity party for myself, I think of Aletia. I see her standing at the K-8 school office. She’s trying to fill out a form and I ask if she needs help. I do, she says, cancer brain makes this hard. Those weren’t her exact words, but I was amazed at her strength, her ability to say yes, I need help. I need help raising my girls. I am going to fill out every school form even if it means I have to ask for help.
Help! The world is a terrifying and beautiful place. We all will face losses, some of them insurmountable; all we can do is surrender to what is. If we have as much grace as Aletia did, we’ll say, yes, I could use some help.
Perhaps this sounds all syrupy sweet. But the day we said goodbye to Aletia, I had a panic attack afterward when I was faced with going downtown to enjoy a Taylor Swift concert with my firstborn. My husband said, go early, here are the directions to the closest parking garage. Caroline and I drove downtown. The parking garage attendant noticed my anxiety and said, you get to park here, in this first spot that’s reserved for someone else. Caroline and I spent hours in the beautiful late summer/early fall sunshine, underneath blue skies, waiting for the concert to start. And when Taylor Swift took the stage, tears poured down my face. Aletia wasn’t here but she was so close and I knew how lucky I was to have helpers who helped me get to this place, watching Taylor Swift with my firstborn.
9/11, here you are. The sky is blue. The air is crisp and cool. Morning has broken. We are broken and whole all at the same time.