Because of the hurricanes in Houston and Florida, this year’s anniversary of 9/11 will probably get a lot less media coverage than it has in previous years. Also, even though I still think we will all take time to reflect on the tragedy that happened on September 11, 2001, our minds are focused on hurricane victims. That’s why I thought it was important to write some thoughts down about 9/11, because it deserves recognition, no matter what else in the world is going on.
On 9/11, 2001, I was 36 years old and 7 months pregnant with my first child. I was also on a plane that morning. My doctor and I had agreed that this would be my last work trip before the baby was born. I was so upset by the events that took place, I almost went into labor that day. My baby was kicking like crazy and I began hyperventilating. Thankfully, I calmed down and my son was fine, and born two months later.
What I remember so clearly about September 11 is what most people probably remember: that life changed forever. I had always assumed (maybe even took it for granted) that I was safe in the U.S., that “nothing bad” would ever happen here. What a wakeup call that day was for me.
At that time, I was happily married, (practically a newlywed), and living this fairytale-like life: a great job, a husband I adored, the miracle of life inside of me, and again, safety.
My now ex-husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary the weekend after 9/11. We walked to a nearby restaurant after not having left the house for a few days, and we toasted (non-alcoholic toast for me) to life: to our lives, to the lives of our family and friends, and to the life of the baby I was carrying. It was both beautiful and very sad at the same time.
Sixteen years later, we aren’t together anymore, but I consider him a friend. Our “baby” is turning 16 in a couple months, and we also have another child who will be 14 in a few weeks.
About a month ago, my kids and I had the privilege of visiting the 9/11 memorial and museum in Manhattan. I cried on and off the entire time I was there, but the experience also made me beyond proud to be an American. Another notable emotion: it made me very angry and unafraid of terrorists. I think the organizers of the memorial did an amazing job of making sure that no one ever forgets what happened to those victims, so that we can prevent it from ever happening again. Ever. I have to believe that was one of their goals in creating what they did.
A few years ago, I remember a divorced woman telling me that 9/11 made her realize how short life is, and she ended up leaving her husband in the months that followed.
This leads me to the point I want to make. Even though it is a horrible thing and I wish it never happened, there are many lessons to be learned from 9/11 that have to do with life and relationships.
Life is precious. You or someone you love can wake up one day and it could be the last day of his or her life. Death is completely out of our control. So, if we live and love every day with a tiny part of our brain cognizant that this could be our last, we are doing ourselves and others a huge favor, because maybe, just maybe our behaviors and our decisions will be impacted by this thought process. After all, aren’t our behaviors and our decisions all we can really control?
Secondly, I cannot count the number of emails this site has gotten where readers express the hatred, anger, and sadness their spouse has caused them. While those feelings are all very understandable, (and should be validated), at some point, it is important to remember who the terrorists (the enemy) really are, and who is not the enemy. Is the father/mother of your child really the enemy? I don’t believe that.
I’m not saying that we should all become best friends with our ex-husbands/wives, but getting divorced doesn’t mean you are expected to HATE. It doesn’t mean you have to hold onto anger indefinitely. And it doesn’t mean you have to treat your spouse like someone you despise.
It took my ex and I a very very long time to get to where we are at now, which I consider good friends who are very good at co-parenting. I take accountability for doing a lot of things that were wrong, and I hope he does, too. But at some point, if you can forget all of the petty things that were done, and try to understand why the person did what he/she felt they had to do, it makes friendship, peace, acceptance and moving on so much easier.
Additionally, I can never understand why wives and girlfriends feel they aren’t allowed to be nice to the ex, or why they think they need to hate her. If you think about it, if you are the wife or girlfriend of a divorced person, you already have something in common with his ex—you both fell in love with the same guy! So, why can’t you be civil, kind, and understanding?
I have very recently become friends with an old boyfriend’s ex-wife. Life is so funny that way—it is a relationship I never expected, but that I very much value. The more people we have in our corner, the richer and more fulfilling our lives become, not to mention the more united and stronger we are to fight the real enemy.
I want to close by saying two things. First, I want to express my sympathy to the 9/11 victims’ families. Being at the memorial has driven home even more how much they must have suffered and most likely still do. Secondly, I want to thank our courageous military for putting their lives on the line every day to keep our country safe and free. Every member of the military is a gift to all of us.
Please take a moment today to pray not only for the hurricane victims in Houston and Florida, but to those who lost their lives on 9/11. They don’t have the chance to live and love anymore, and that is beyond tragic. But, we still have the chance to give and receive love from whomever we choose. We still have that beautiful and precious privilege. What a gift it is.
God bless America.
Like this post? Check out, “Independence is not just for America, It’s For You, Too.”