September 12, 2001
Maybe for you, it’s not the literal date. But do you have your own 9.12.01? Those of you who know me personally know that I do have one. I share it with my wife. Ours is April 24, 2006.
I’m talking about the day after. Tragedy strikes. Your life cannot possibly be the same. You wake up the day after, and realize that you’re now forced to face a new ‘normal’. For a lot of Americans, September 12 2001 was quite possibly the most difficult day they would ever have to face. Waking up and realizing the day before was NOT a dream – or even a nightmare. Their loved ones are not going to walk through the door. The neighbor’s little girl will have to grow up without her dad, because he answered the call as a first responder, and was trying to save others when his own life was taken too soon. The new husband – who finally found his soulmate, and the love of his life – now has to figure out how to move forward without her.
There are a lot of other 9.12.01’s though. Some of them exist because of what happened on That Day. Countless men and women chose to stand in harms way to defend the freedom we enjoy – I enjoy – every day. Lives have been sacrificed – both on foreign soil, and in our own neighborhoods, and families are left to try to put their pieces back together.
And some of these stories have nothing at all to do with terrorist attacks. The dad who is forced to raise his children by himself due to an unspeakable senseless act of violence which claimed the life of his bride. Or maybe someone shares a story similar to mine. Our first son, Ryan, was born premature at 23 weeks. April 21, 2006. On April 23 he was taken into the arms of Jesus. And on April 24, my wife and I awoke to our ‘new normal’ .. even though we’ve been blessed with 2 more incredible boys, there will always be someone missing at our dinner table. Always.
So – how does it happen? How do we get up, and by no means forget, but still move forward? This answer is different for every single story, and I’m not going to try to answer it in this one small post. For my family, I know that we couldn’t have possibly moved on without knowing that our Hope lies beyond what is seen. And as I continue to hear stories about people like I’ve mentioned, I find my heart SO heavy for them – and I’m desperately hoping they know the same peace I do.
I have a good friend who was a first responder to World Trade Center on September 11. He was there from the time the first plane hit until the first tower collapsed. His story is truly amazing. And heartbreaking. And inspirational. Now he has turned his experiences from that day into a motivation to help others. To encourage others to not be complacent with their own lives, but to live each day to its fullest.
The stories may all be very different, but one thing is true for each one. The sun still rises on that day after. The chance to begin again is given every morning. If you know someone who has their own September 12, the best thing you can do for them is this: remember it with them. Don’t force them to face their new normal alone. Honor the memories of those lost by walking alongside those who are still here. You will find that your life will be changed for the better as well.