18 years later…

I wonder what they woke up thinking…

When they grabbed their cup of coffee, threw last minute items in their briefcase or purse, headed out the door… I wonder if they felt any different…

I wonder if they said the same words parting with their families that morning… kissed their spouse or their kids once more before they arose…

I wonder if they knew anything different… if they felt anything different… if they had any sense somehow that this day would be different…

I wonder…

As survivor Michael Wright wrote, one year after, “UP TO THAT DAY, I’d had a Brady Bunch, cookie-cutter, beautiful life. I now know what it’s like to have a 110-story building that’s been hit by a 767 come down on my head. For better or for worse, it’s part of my life. There are things I never thought I’d know that I now know.

It was as mundane a morning as you can imagine. Tuesdays are usually the days I go out to see clients and make sales calls. I get to my office at a quarter to eight, eat a bran muffin, drink a cup of coffee, and get my head straight for the day.

I was actually in a good mood. A couple of us were yukking it up in the men’s room. We’d just started sharing the eighty-first floor of 1 World Trade Center with Bank of America, and they’d put up a sign telling everyone to keep the bathroom clean. ‘Look at this,’ one of us said. ‘They move in and now they’re giving us sh*t.’ It was about quarter to nine…”

Then… “All of a sudden, there was the shift of an earthquake…”

The first plane — American Airlines Flight 11 — hit the northern facade of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at precisely 8:46 a.m… 81 passengers… 11 crew members… Captain John Ogonowski… First Officer Thomas McGuinness…

As we soberly pause to remember, it strikes me that all those people — from on the planes to in the buildings to the brave, brave first responders — that when the day began, they didn’t know it would be any different. There were no warning signs that their earthly life was coming to an abrupt end.

And so 18 years later, as I think about how maybe to honor the 2,996 persons who died that day, a few varied thoughts run through my head and heart…

… to simply remember… to pause long enough to acknowledge that the September 11th attacks are not just some distant memory… this isn’t just any other day…

… to pray for their families… no matter the 18 passing years, their emotion may be less prominent, but the grief remains. Indeed, one of life’s most prudent practices as we grow older is learning how to cope with grief and joy, often felt at the exact same time… 

… to never take evil lightly or to act as if it doesn’t exist on this planet… men motivated by evil is who/what killed the near 3,000 that day. An awareness of such seems wise…

… to teach our children well… let me add that I laid in bed with my youngest son last night, attempting to concisely explain the tragedy, trying to share the account in a way appropriate for his level of comprehension. Interestingly, I found the retelling and remembering to be moving for me, too…

… and lastly, to live our days with contagious delight but also to live with an awareness that any day could be different… any day could be our last… any day our lives could change.

Then, going one step further, let us ask… if we truly realized that any day could be our last, what would we do differently today? What would we change?

What would we be sure to say? What would we be sure to not?

What relationship would we finally work out?

What would instantly become unimportant?

I wonder… 

Respectfully…

AR

2 Replies to “18 years later…”

  1. Wow! That brought tears to my eyes… so powerful…so true.
    Thanks for sharing. I recommend you send it to USA Today.

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