I already know that so many things I feel every year on this day have already been said a million times over by other people. Whenever I watch video of that day nine years ago and the events that occurred, it is just as fresh and raw to me as it was then. I was profoundly and deeply affected by the deaths of people I didn't know, just because they were my fellow countrymen and women. At the time, I was living in Canada for what I knew to be an indefinite period of time, and while I lived only a little over an hour away from the Canada/US border, it could have been a million miles in my heart. I felt sad, angry, homesick, anxious, worried, hopeful, fearful and I was glued to the American news networks because I wanted to feel the comraderie of the American spirit, even though that spirit had been attacked.
Because of 9-11, I was brought into a time of re-examining my life, and every year on this day I still take the time to think about life and how much I have to be grateful for.
Today, I am grateful for...
Remembrance. You have to remember life-changing moments, whether they are good or bad. I feel that reminding ourselves of the worst events can make us more focused on the good.
Breathing. Though none of us knows when our last breath will take place, I am grateful that I have breath in my lungs and I am alive.
Tears. I relive the events of 9-11 more often than once a year, but especially today, I cry for the lives lost and the millions of lives affected by those losses. I cry for the heroes and the victims. I cry for the loss of my illusions of peace and love in the world. God changed me for the better through 9-11 and in the years since, but I will always remember this day with tears. Always. I hope I never forget.
My country. No matter how bad it feels like it's getting here sometimes, I will always, always, always be grateful for my country and I will always be proud to be an American.
My children. They are one of my daily reminders that life goes on and that there is hope.
Health. It's a basic thing, but it's not something everyone has.
God. I can't even tell you how grateful I am that God has me in his hands. I would have lost myself and lost my mind if I didn't have Him. Some people who don't believe in Him say that God is a "crutch" for those who do believe. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. We're all wounded in some way or another and having God as the thing that stabilizes us when we're wounded is a simple, yet profound visual. I don't have to prove that I'm strong because I already know that without him, I'm nothing.
Friends...one in particular. Nine years ago today, I was online and I happened into a Yahoo chat room. Everyone was talking about what had happened, where they were and what their thoughts were. There was fear, there was anger and there was deep sadness. In the middle of the chaos, I met a guy named Chris. I didn't know him, obviously, but in the middle of all the noise that was going on in my head, he was the voice of reason. He spoke comforting words and he spoke hope. I have no doubt that God orchestrated the chance meeting. We have kept in touch over the last nine years, sending the occasional e-mail to say Hello and give updates on our families and the happenings in our lives. It may not seem like a big deal to some people, but God brought a calming influence into my life when I was alone and anxious about what each new day after 9-11 would bring. I will always be grateful for Chris. Even though he didn't know it, he was a vessel that God used and I am thankful for him.
My hope is that you know that there IS hope. There is a promise of peace in the storm. God never promised that we would be successful or rich, or that everything in our lives would go well all the time. He DID, however, promise that he would be with us and that he would never leave us. He promised us peace in the struggle, hope in the hopeless times and comfort in the chaos.
(The above photo is not mine. I found it online and I thought it was incredibly profound...never forget.)