Can 5 years have passed already? I remember that day so well, being awakened by our German au pair's parents calling our house frantically. Aileen had been on one of the flights the previous day, returning from Portland, Maine where she'd been visiting friends. I remember standing in my living room in my pajamas while we tried to understand what we were seeing on the news. No one went to work that day. I don't remember ever getting out of my pajamas. I remember that feeling of wanting to do something but that there was nothing to do.
9-11 has become part of the American mythology, part of our pathology and group consciousness. What a tragedy and yet it brings to light an even greater tragedy, in my opinion. 9-11 became something that we all have in common. It's like it took that great of a pain to get us all to feel for each other again. In this age where people don't know their neighbors, where parents and children don't eat at the same table, where half of our lives take place online- it takes a great pain to shake us out of our self-absorbed reverie and notice each other, take notice of our humanity and our vulnerability. To me, that is the greater tragedy. And has it lasted? Are we kinder? More compassionate today than we were 5 years and one day ago?
If anything, the lesson that was driven home for me is that there are no guarantees. Case in point, Avery's preschool director almost lost her daughter over the summer. Miss Lizzie's daughter finished her first year of college last year. Over the summer she came down with what everyone thought was the flu. Turns out, a virus was attacking her heart. They hoped it would heal, but it didn't. It came down to Stanford and a heart transplant. Luckily, a donor heart came available and she's made it this far. I've had that same unsettling feeling since I heard this story.. wanting to do something, but there is nothing to be done. There are no guarantees. We worry, lay awake at night, struggle to keep our children safe. We warn them away from strangers and streets and outlets. We make sure they eat their vegetables and reluctantly release them into kindergarten, first grade, junior high, high school and finally college... but there is no magical finishing line where we can stop and say "whew, we made it!"
Every day we have with each other is a gift.