Finding Joy on 9-11

Today I had a feeling I’ve never felt before on the anniversary of 9-11 – joy.

The early morning sky was baby blue with elegant ripples of clouds over Mount Diablo.

I shed a tear as I do every 9-11.

Then I smiled, thinking about the 2,977 people America lost that day – so many brave firefighters. People like Tom Burnett, who worked nearby at Thoratec in Pleasanton – and Todd Beamer, a software engineer on Flight 93 whose heroism is recognized worldwide as the guy who called a GTE operator, assessed the situation, and finished with “let’s roll”, defying the hijacker’s tactical strategy to turn the plane around and destroy the U.S. Capitol.

I remember these heroes and those we lost – reflecting on my son’s first memory that day, and my first memory as a child.

I was 3 1/2 years old when JFK was shot. I remember playing with my dolls singing on the floor as my mother cried for the first Catholic President and his young family.

Years later, I realized that my son’s first memory was 9-11. He remembers me whisking him from his bed and holding him close early that morning.

My husband had woken early to go to the gym. Realizing that America was under attack, he turned his car around to come home, wake me up, and share the reality that terror was in the sky, destroying the Pentagon, just a mile and a half from our former home in Arlington, Virginia.

Our first vivid childhood memories were of America’s saddest days – mine of the young American President being shot and my son’s of terrorists crashing airplanes into the World Trade Center.

I realized today that his may be the last graduating class at Monte Vista High School to remember what happened that dreadful day.

These reflections pave the walkway of our lives in good times and in bad.

Mom & Dad on the CouchFourteen years ago, I lost my father — just two weeks after 9-11. It was hard to get a flight across the country. We had to cancel my son’s 4th birthday party. We buried Dad on his birthday.

My mother passed ten years later. I find joy that they are together.

My son has grown into an amazing young man who will be 18 in just a few short weeks.

He finds joy in baseball, friendship, school, country music (and rap) and has a great love of family. (He’s even quite polite to those who are the most eccentric in the family).

He got his first car this week. I thank God every day that we live in a safe community.

2015-09-08 Michael's MercedesI find joy for the love of my life, a beautiful home, and the hike we took together, looking at Mt. Diablo, this morning before work.

I find joy in my amateur photography of the roses in my garden which somehow will withstand the California drought and bloom again next year.

2015 Malibu Rose1

Fourteen years later, I appreciate life.

I respect and admire those who keep us safe – our police, firefighters, and veterans.

Today, I’ll thank them all for their sacrifices.

It is these gifts in which I find joy, living in America, truly the land of the free, because of the brave.