Photos were taken in the Arlington National Cemetery, on my birthday in 2007.
Yesterday was a hard day for me, as it was for most Americans. I spent the better part of my morning watching the Memorial Service and crying. It's as if time stood still for a moment and every detail was burned into your brain.
I was a Junior in High School, walking into my 1st period Accounting class with Mrs. Clark. Her Homeroom class was filing out the door as I was going in, and a kid named Dustin yelled out "the Pentagon's just been bombed!" I remember thinking to myself "yeah right, no one can bomb the Pentagon"...and just as I thought this and walked into her class, I saw the second plane crash into the World Trade Center because she'd just turned on the news. Everyone was in shock...my teacher covered her mouth and fell back into her chair. They let everyone go home an hour later, and I don't even remember driving home (or anything about the rest of the day, for that matter).
There's something about 9/11 that makes you think about all the other loss in your life. Friends, family...but especially my grandfathers, who both served their country with distinction. My dad's father served in the Air Force in World War II and received a Purple Heart, and my mom's father graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, was career Navy, and served as the Commander of a Battleship (a game he was ironically, very good at!). He was the sweetest man alive, and in all my life I never once heard him raise his voice or get angry. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a tough as nails Irishwoman who raised 3 kids (2 of them being hellcat boys) on her own while grandpa was at sea. You didn't mess with grandma unless you wanted the horns, lol. She survived two heart attacks, two bouts with breast cancer, and a stroke...that should tell you all you need to know about her! But my sadness is tempered by the fact that I see parts of them in myself, and their continual influence in my life. I get my creative flair from my mom's dad, and oddly enough, my love of Japanese fabric and Asian design also come from him. I grew up surrounded by the things he brought back from his time in Asia and the South Pacific where he spent most of his career.
I mourn the lives lost on 9/11, and that so many parents lost children, children lost parents, and spouses became halves instead of wholes. But most of all, my heart aches because of the hatred that has stemmed out of that day. I spent a lot of the past week crying over stories I read from 9/11, but only one of them gave me hope, and touched me more profoundly than I could ever write in words. As important as it is to remember, forgiveness is even more important. So often we think that forgiveness is only for the benefit of the person being forgiven, and we don't want to grant it because we think the perpetrator is unworthy of it, or because we want to make them suffer. But forgiveness is also for the benefit of the victim. I've seen so many people that have let their life become consumed with hatred and anger. They cling to it so tightly that it becomes their identity and permeates every part of their being, and they end up alone because they gradually reject or alienate everyone in their life. I don't say any of this lightly, or as someone who's never had to deal with profound hurt or betrayal. There are things that have happened in my life that I never thought I could forgive, but I did. It's part of the reason why I believe in God, because knowing myself and my character, I never would have had the grace or capacity to forgive some of these things on my own.
I know I come across as a goofy, happy go-lucky person (which I am for the most part), so it may seem odd hearing this stuff come out of me. But strangely enough, my joy comes out of my past suffering. Until I met my husband, I was a bitter, angry person, and I spent far too many years that way. I'm joyful because I realize it's a choice - a daily choice. I never have to spend another day like that because I can choose not to...because I choose to find joy in my life from friends, family, Sir Whiskers, New Orleans, and you - my online quilting friends :)
So there's my self-help spiel for the year. And no, I'm not singing Kumbaya right now (nor will I ever). I actually didn't sit down intending to write anything as heavy as this, but it just started pouring out of me before I could stop myself. I hope you all have a beautiful week, celebrating the life and love you have :)