“I miss you.”
It’s as simple and as complicated as a human emotion can be.
Today is one of those days when thousands of Americans, including myself, will set aside time to remember and honor an event that changed us as human beings and Americans.
It’s also one of those days when people around the globe will silently, angrily, tearfully and wistfully say, “I miss you,” as they remember a deceased loved one.
For today is a day when the nation mentally turns the clock back 14 years to September 11, 2001, that horrific day of terrorism attacks in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC and Shanksville, Pennsylvania; a day when precious lives were lost and those left in an ash heap of grief were left numb to the idea that life could ever go on.
Yet we have moved on, painfully and resiliently, processing those powerful and unpredictable feelings of grief.
There are now memorials, charities, foundations, marathon walks, and community programs all started in name of a loved one whose heroic efforts during 9/11 should not be forgotten.
But the sounds, the sights, the smells, the thoughts of that horrific day can come rushing back instantly as we recall loved ones lost and loved ones who survived the destruction but still are dealing with the physical and psychological effects of that tragic day.
September 11, 2001. Most of us can recall almost to the minute where we were when we first heard the news of thousands being killed in a coordinated series of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda which brought down the Twin Towers in New York City, collapsed the western side of the Pentagon in Washington, DC and caused United Airlines Flight 93 to crash in Shanksville, totally shattering America’s sense of security.
Thankfully, I did not lose a loved one in the tragedy of 9/11 but my husband was alive at the time and I vividly remember how we were together, at home in Washington, DC, when we learned of the airplane attacks on New York’s Twin Towers and the alarming news that our son’s school and every other school in the District of Columbia was in lockdown. A school lockdown at that time was unusual and as I nervously got in the car to pick up our son from elementary school I had no idea what traffic would be like and if there would be a heavy presence of police on the streets.
The anniversary of losing a loved one is always a painful time of “remember whens” and “what ifs,” but there can also come a point in your personal grief journey when you decide that the anniversary is more than the loss of that person; that the anniversary can be spent as a day to celebrate the beauty of that person’s life and the positive impact they had on you and others.
For part of surviving is being able to step back from the life you had with the person who is deceased and bravely recall them.
You remember the things that the person did or said that made them special.
You remember their smile, the way they laughed or their quirky habits.
And you feel closer to them.
You remember how it felt when they held your hand or put their arm around you.
Or how they kissed you.
And you feel closer to them.
You remember the music they loved or the stories they told over and over.
You remember the things they cooked or the favorite foods they loved to eat.
You remember their aftershave lotion or their perfume and smelling it now seems to put them right beside you.
It is beyond a truth that no one can ever take away your beloved memories.
Because, my dearest readers, life is truly all about love.
For while the person who generously poured love on to you and the person you warmly enveloped in love is gone, the tender searing memories you created together are locked in your memory bank, never to be forgotten.