Friday, September 11, 2009


I do remember.

I remember so many things about that day. So many details. I remember, most clearly, the vivid blue of the sky. God, it was a beautiful day that day. It was one of those days where you can't stop grinning, on the walk to work, because it's so beautiful outside. It was one of those days that you can't not notice the weather.

And then, only 20 minutes later and in the hours that followed, I remember the surprise, followed by shock, followed by ever-increasing horror. I was in Philadelphia, south of NYC, north of DC and east of Shanksville. I remember a feeling of panic because it seemed we were surrounded, with no escape. It wasn't distant. We knew people who were right there in the middle of it, and we watched it unfold, minute by minute.

I remember watching footage of New York as a journalist at the Department of Defense reported to the network by telephone. And I remember hearing the plane hit the Pentagon right in the middle of a sentence.

I remember making eye contact with a total stranger outside work, and breaking into tears. I remember how she hugged me. She didn't look like the hugging type.

I remember the firefighters and police who chose to put themselves in that place, because they cared about the lives of strangers. "Cared" doesn't even seem like a strong enough word. That is such an amazing thing to do - even just to take the chance of sacrificing your life for someone else. So I remember and respect the firefighters who survived, too.

And even though I didn't know them - although, like countless people on the East Coast, I know people who did - I remember the other people who died. The people on the planes. The people who were at work - who maybe walked to work grinning like I did, because it was so beautiful outside. The people in the Pentagon. The people who never knew what hit them, and the people on the planes and the higher floors of the World Trade Center, who, knowing there was no way out, called their family members to say good-bye.

I remember the people just like us.

I remember. So many people have ideas about the best kind of memorial. But I think the best way to remember is to live. To really live. To live the kinds of lives we would want people to talk about when we die.

To smile a lot. To laugh a lot. To live with zest. To love our family members as hard as we can, and to forgive them their faults as best we can. To forgive ourselves for our own faults. To truly savor the little, seemingly insignificant moments, like brushing our teeth or pouring a glass of iced tea. To really feel what we are touching, to really taste what we are eating, to really smell the flowers, to really live in the moment. To be kind to strangers, even when they don't return the favor, because they might be having a really bad day. To stop worrying so much. To stop blaming other people so much. To live fully, even in the bad moments. To thank people. To do the things we love and treat ourselves to the things that make us happy. To recognize when things are good and we are happy. To do our best to share that happiness with the world. To share our talents and give back in our own way. To care. To do the things we've always dreamed of doing, because it's now - or maybe never. To follow our dreams.

And most of all, on a really beautiful day, to look up at the sky, and grin, and take a deep breath, and say, "Wow, it's a beautiful day."

And it is, it really is.


becky n said...

Very good memorial, Alison. It's true - the best way to commemorate this day is to live it fully, intentionally, kindly.

I recently had a near tragedy and when I mentioned to a friend that I felt that I should be on my hands and knees giving thanks for the rest of my life, he said "There are many ways to live out your thankfulness." I try to remember that each day.

Misfit in Paradise said...

That was wonderful. You brought me to tears.

Merisi said...

The blue sky -
it took me a long time and another continent to enjoy a blue September sky again. It was such a horrible day, with my husband around the corner from the White House and the kids closed in at school only a few miles away. I shall always remember and never forget. I was sure we all would not see the evening.

Barbara said...

So very well stated, thanks Alison