We humans sure seem to hold onto memories of bad things, don’t we? Not only the dates, but also the sights, sounds, and smells. I think that’s why Alan Jackson’s song resonates with me.
I remember exactly where I was.
I was driving down MacArthur Boulevard on my way to work. It was a bright, sunny day. I was headed to work later than usual, so there was almost no traffic. My radio was tuned to the classical music station. I wasn’t paying much attention to it, although I thought it was odd that the news segment was going on and on. Then I heard them say something about an airplane crashing in Pennsylvania. And that they didn’t know if it was related to the three other airplanes. Confused, I quickly switched the station to NPR to get the whole story.
I remember crying. A lot.
I remember feeling utterly helpless, useless.
I remember checking with Michele to see if her brother was okay.
I remember scouring the news for word that someone had been found alive in the rubble.
I remember going to church that Sunday and feeling like God had wrapped me up in his arms and wasn’t ever going to let me go.
I remember, in the days and weeks that followed, checking the names of those lost, hoping I wouldn’t see my friend’s name, and the sense of relief when, day after day, I didn’t.
I remember hearing stories of heroism, of people phoning their loved ones to say good-bye.
I remember not being able to laugh for the longest time.
I remember dear friends, all of us visibly shaken, getting together for lunch or to chat, just checking in, making sure we were all as okay as we could be.
I remember struggling to figure out what “normal” was and how I could get there.
Today, 10 years later, my “normal” doesn’t look anything like I envisioned then. I’m getting pretty good at facing new challenges and recovering from life’s sucker-punches. Which, frankly, more than annoys me.
But I keep pushing on, anyway.
This life is worth the effort.