Filtered Sunshine

autumn treeThe yellow sun snuck over the windowsills, creeping across my bedspread. It still felt like summer in the Northwest and the sun came in and warmed my bed before my alarm clock went off. The noisy birds in the huge cedar tree outside my window had been awakened by it, too and their cacophony interrupted the sun’s softly glowing heat. With one eye, I confirmed I still had ten minutes, and I rolled over toward the empty side of the bed, turning my back to the birds. Husband was flying and I had to get to work. But not yet. Without opening my eyes, I slowly raised my hand over to his pillow and rested it there. I wondered where he was at that moment.

Nine and a half minutes passed, and I woke up, showered, and turned on Matt Lauer. When Husband was home I had to sneer quietly as I watched him turn away from my closet light and return to his slumber. But when he was gone I could turn the news up loud enough to hear all the way into the bathroom, and I loved it. Without looking at the TV, I tossed the remote onto the bed and headed for the daily closet ritual.

Matt’s voice was pitching high. Katie wasn’t laughing. Something was odd. Something seemed strange. I walked back over to the TV screen. A huge smoking tower filled my bedroom and the nervousness in Matt’s voice confirmed for me this was not a “regular” news event. In the flurry of voices and words, which were imprinted in a faster than usual scroll across the bottom of the screen, I could see this was New York. I stood motionless and cold in my bedroom, wet and naked, dumbstruck by what was unfolding …

*  *  *

Ten years later I woke up, the sun streaming in once again to wake me, and I remembered. But I didn’t close my eyes. I stared into the light.

I remembered “Let’s Roll” and The Pentagon. I remembered mountains of crushing steel and concrete smashing down on the hearts of Americans on live television. I remembered Firefighters. Port Authority. Cops. Jumpers. I remembered a President’s determination from the midst of the rubble. I remembered grainy videos of a scary bearded man I’d never heard of.

I remembered the courthouse security confiscating box cutters from a man in front of me at the metal detector. I remembered the eerie sound of an airplaneless sky. I remembered Homeland Security. The creation of the TSA. Taking off shoes and putting toiletries in plastic baggies and dumping out water bottles. I remembered being wary of any person with a turban on an airplane. I remembered widespread bankruptcies and massive government subsidies and pervasive economic depression. I remembered it wasn’t always like this.

I remembered coming home to find a “Mobilization Checklist” on the home computer screen. I remembered saying goodbye for a year. I remembered Veteran’s Day and Christmas and Father’s Day and the first day of Kindergarten. And I remembered being on an airplane when the news of Bin Laden’s death broke. I remembered SEALS.

*  *  *

Everyone has a memory or reflection that’s personal. It’s our son, daughter, father, or husband that was in the tower or on the planes or in the Pentagon. It’s our friend’s business that went under. It’s our own lost job in a failing economy. It’s our child born without their father home during a military deployment. It’s our employees that are being mobilized and we are scrambling to fill the holes at home. It’s our best friend who died in the desert just driving along the roadway.

It’s our country.

Which is why the sea change of 9/11 also rewards us individually. We are each individually stronger, individually more educated, individually more aware of our world neighbors, both allies and enemies. We are individually more capable, individually more vigilant, individually more appreciative of the value of freedom.

blue skyWe need not remember the events, the tragedy, and the broken-heartedness of September 11th if we can’t also remember the resulting virtues that this trial has brought us in ten years. We have to be thankful for the good that we have sucked out of a smoking pile of rubble, not bitter for the change.

I have to be thankful for the good I have sucked out of a year-long deployment, not bitter for the change. Otherwise, the work was useless. Otherwise, the enemy has won. And I don’t like losing.

What do you have to be bitter about?


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sharprightturn
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 08:47:50

    Lori, The post from your dad brought tears to the eyes. Thanks for sharing your memories of the day. You (and your dad) certainly have a great way with words. I enjoy reading.


  2. Big Al
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 08:31:04

    Lori, I think maybe you get some of your extreme talent for writing from your dad, N’est-ce pas? You are fortunate to be able to express yourself so openly and fully because it is so cathartic. We are lucky we get to read along.


  3. The Dad
    Sep 11, 2011 @ 23:16:43

    One day, you and Husband will be able to look back and say, “We won.” Each generation of Americans have had their own hard fought victories. Shortly before I retired I had the honor to be invited aboard a Soviet Cruiser at anchor in San Diego Bay – their last ‘good will’ tour – as the Evil Empire was collapsing. As I stood in the ship’s Ward Room sipping Bulgarian brandy with the ship’s XO, I noticed that Old Glory hung on one wall (er.. bulkhead) and the Hammer & Sickle was opposite. Listening to their XO complain in rather good English about the Soviet Navy’s retirement system – it hit me like the proverbial ton-of-bricks – the ultimate 20 year career epiphany – WE WON. It had been worth it; the deployments, the separations, the missed birthdays and holidays. You weren’t aware of it at the time, but you were just as much a part of THAT struggle as you are now. You are as engaged in THIS struggle with Husband as your mother was when I wore the uniform. Make sure Sweet-pea and Pre-Schooler know that THEY are home-front warriors, too. You have been such an inspiration to so many during Husband’s deployment – and you may never know how many lives you’ve touched. But for me – I am so very, very proud of you, and Husband and Sweet-pea and Pre-Schooler.


  4. Luise
    Sep 11, 2011 @ 11:20:42

    That was lovely. I was talking with my niece about it. She was five when it happened. She said that she doesn’t remember anything about that day except that at her christian school they had a prayer vigil. She says she remembers love. What a blessed thing for her to learn. On that day what she learned at school was love. How could I be bitter about that?


  5. DogBoy
    Sep 11, 2011 @ 11:12:29

    Ten years is a good time to reflect on. A decade. A decade ago. A decade from now. How about 2 decades in either direction? So much changes in a decade. It all changes a moment at a time, but rarely do we notice those tiny moments and their significance. I believe we must notice and take care to do those tiny things that make change when added up over a decade.


  6. Courtney Emken
    Sep 11, 2011 @ 09:32:26

    If I did have something to be bitter about, I can’t remember it now. Hard to believe 10 years have passed since that day. So much to be thankful for, and so much still to do.


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