Saturday, September 10, 2011

A 9/11 Birthday

When you share a birthday with a national tragedy, it feels selfish to even celebrate. The catastrophic impact of the 9/11 disaster looms large over any concerns, and renders everything else unimportant, something inconsequential.

The attack on the World Trade Center is forever etched in the collective consciousness of everyone from New York and the world beyond. And on this tenth-year anniversary, the wounds have opened again and the world stands still in shared remembrance.

While some of us have been tangentially affected, the survivors of the innocents felt the void and the loss that most of us could not even comprehend. Children lost their parents, and parents lost their children. The rescue workers who toiled on Ground Zero have lived, but with dust in their lungs. The survivors grappled with post-traumatic stress even after the television replayed the gruesome images every year. The rest of us moved on.

But we cannot escape the memories, nor can we feel safe again.

For this tenth-year anniversary, we struggle with the need to maintain a sense of normalcy in the midst of the threat of new terrorist attacks. The presence of heavily-armed police in subway serves as the new reality.

Where were you when the world stood still?

Ten years ago, I stood on the platform of a Manhattan-bound E train to spend my birthday morning at the bookstore cafe in World Trade Center. Just as the train was pulling into the station, something inexplicable gripped me. I turned around, crossed to the west-bound platform to the train back to home, to safety.

This divine intervention gave me the chance to hug my son again, and reoriented me to life's priorities. My work as a nurse gives me the opportunity to make a difference. So as I continue to celebrate the fact that I am alive, a huge part of this day will be forever spent in remembrance of the day when the world stood still.

I resolve to honor the sacrifices of those who died before us by living my life in full appreciation of God's bountiful blessings and of His promise of the new Jerusalem.