Every year, on September 11, I pause to remember. I made a promise seven years ago that I would never forget my friend Brady Howell, who was a good friend of mine in high school, and whose life was taken from him, along with 183 other people, during the terrorist attack on the Pentagon that day. He was 26.
His wife, Liz, carried the Olympic torch to the White House before the start of the winter games (you can see a little piece about that here, scroll to the bottom).
Seven years have gone by since then, and it is interesting how time has changed things for me. I have two little children who will never know what the world was like before “Orange Alert” and taking laptops out of cases at the airport. Before “Nine-eleven” became one of those Names Of Terrible Things. We now live just a few hours’ drive from the permanent memorial at the Pentagon where his name is inscribed on a bench to honor his memory.
Seven years ago this morning, just before 8:00 a.m., I sat and watched the TV at work and thought the world was ending. I sat among my colleagues transfixed, crying, staring in shock and horror as the second plane hit, as first one and then the other tower collapsed, hearing the panic in the voices of the newscasters, seeing it in the faces of the people around me, and feeling it in my heart. What would happen now? Is this it? The end?
Instead, I’ve been given seven more years to love and to laugh and also to sing and to struggle and to pray, and to try to figure out what I was meant for. And to simply learn that it It takes courage to get up every day and (as Sam Vimes would say) do the job that is in front of you. And even more courage to make that life a deliberate celebration.
There is no sense in the senseless killing.
This will always be the fact. Brady should have lived. Nothing
will bring him - or anyone killed that day - back. But what can I, as his
friend and someone influenced by his short but brilliantly bright life,
do to honor his memory?
I can celebrate my own.
I hadn’t planned it this way, but it’s incredibly fitting that today’s template in our Type+Writer class features a photo and journaling about US. It wasn’t a surprise that most of the faces I saw as I have been through our class gallery today have been women. But what WAS surprising (to the point that I’ve been paging through the gallery in humbled, tearful wonder for an hour now) is how beautiful ALL the faces are. And how much courage it takes to write and scrap about yourself (courage, because so often its our fear of rejection or ridicule that holds us back from showing our true selves), or to even consider yourself worth spending an hour or two writing and then scrapping about. But this is a real kind of courage - this willingness to GO ON with life in the face of uncertainty and fear and self-doubt, to do the job that is in front of them - whatever it might be - and to make that time a deliberate celebration of good things.