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What I love about 9/11

Twenty two years of sadness and reflection and I woke up today feeling lighter.

Twenty two years of memories. Of moments. Of change. Twenty two years of pain and blue skies. Twenty two years of names and faces, flyers of the missing, and fights over lungs and their protection. Twenty two years of this day meaning more than the others. Twenty two years of stories.

And today. Something shifted. My sky is not blue today--we have clouds and every other day we have blue skies. I feel like I'm being asked to look somewhere different today. And I notice, in the mirror, just how blue my eyes are. Just like the sky that day, that Tuesday, that September 11 before the date September 11th held any meaning. Maybe I need to look within.

What I love about September 11th, is the coming together, the joy of talking to your neighbors, the weight lifted by a shared story. Always and forever. I cannot forget the ironing board, the pregnant belly, those so far from home, the giant stone structures placed in front of my work because we were deemed infrastructure. I can't forget the names, the faces, Cantor Fitz, Windows on the World. Jim calling after being refused the opportunity to give blood, sitting in a bar not knowing what to do, not really knowing what was going on and yet sitting just miles from the devastation that he thought was just a small plane accident before boarding the subway to midtown. Eric calling from pentagon station. Jen calling to see where I was. My sister in law taken aback by being on the verge of bringing babies into this world. Tim working extra alongside Bill to get managers home. Stopping to talk to Maureen and Eric just outside of the house. Those moments are like smoke in the back of my throat, I feel it and I can't clear it, ever present, deep and dark. But what I love is how I felt seeing people hugging, embracing, sharing, counting on each other.

Even now, this day is just one of 365 but each year, those of a certain age, can tell you where they were, what they were doing, how they were feeling, how it connected to them, every one can. I love listening to those stories as much as I love sharing mine. It is how I know that we are human together. We live lives that are so separate, with our own memories and heartache, our own pivotal days, but on this day a shared humanity that I am constantly in search of--a place to find comfort in the sameness and togetherness we all share because of a single desperate horrific act.

It makes me wonder what else do we share? It makes me want to sit in a circle and tell stories. Pick a topic, think your thoughts and share them out loud, right now, with me. Building a place where stories matter. Where each person's view matters. Hmmm. That feels like warm sand at the beach. Comfort. Love. Peace.

I've noticed in the last twenty two years that we tell our stories without listening to the others. If I could I would make this the great story listening day. Someone has to start by sharing while the rest of us lean in and listen. Where we feel alongside the story teller, where we ask questions because we want to know more, where we wait for the story to end, the memories to be concluded before we even think to share our story. There is a great pause between one story and the next. That pause filled with the quiet you feel at the reflection pool alongside the new building; the peace you feel touching the trunk of any sycamore tree because of the job it did on that day; the communion you feel when your tear filled eyes meet another's; the calm that is promised.

Today my sky is filled with clouds and look towards the mirror. Am I providing peace and calm, am I creating connection, am I listening to stories as much as I am sharing? I see something in my own eyes that reminds me that each day I try is better than one I don't.

What I love about September 11th is that I know myself better because of all the stories I know from that day and the days and years that have followed. Hope endures.

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