September 11 does not mean the same thing to me that it does to you.  September 11 was a day of sorrow for me long before 2001. 

But it was also a day of great joy.

My son, Isaac, was born on September 11, 1992.  But my joy was almost immediately mixed with sorrow on the day of his birth.  Isaac was born with multiple severe handicaps and our joy over him has always been tempered with grief.  His childhood and thus my motherhood has been anything but typical.  We have no baby book, no pictures of those first toddling steps, no record of first words, no “aced” spelling tests to save.  My trips down memory lane probably show a landscape a bit different than yours.

And yet.

It isn’t a bad landscape.  And it’s probably not as different from yours as I think it is.  I just learned early what every mother eventually finds out.  The journey of motherhood is inevitably one of joy mixed with sorrow, one of triumph and despair, one of great hopes and huge disappointments.  As is the journey of life.

And what I learned on 9-11-92, I experienced again on 9-11-01.  I began the day with joy because we had just purchased our first house, and I was there waiting for the refrigerator to be delivered.  Then, sur-reality set it when I re-entered the plugged-in world and heard the news (hours after everyone else) – great happiness and great sadness experienced within minutes of each other.

But, what I learned on 9-12-92, I experienced again on 9-12-01 (or perhaps it took a bit longer than a day).  And that is that the sun comes up, the birds sing, the breeze blows, people love.  Life looks a little different than it used to.  Life looks a lot different than you thought it would.  But we are remarkably adaptable.  And we can choose to face bravely a life that we no longer understand.  We can choose to offer love and hope in a world that no longer makes sense.

I believe the lessons we learned on 9-11 were just reminders of what we already knew.  Life is short.  Life is fragile.  Life is hard.  And so we need to cherish the people around us.  We need to live each moment as if it counts, because it does.  And we need to do everything in our power to leave this world a little better than we found it.  We need to learn how to hope in the midst of our hopelessness and we need to learn how to offer help even when we feel most helpless.  And most of all we need to learn how to love those around us as if there is no tomorrow.

don’t just remember the pain and sadness and fear . . . remember also the sweetness of life, the inevitable sunrise . . . and let both inform the way you live

 Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Happy Birthday, Isaac.  Your life has enriched mine beyond description.