September 11 – Bittersweet Memories
On a rainy September 11, in 2010, on the campus of Michigan State University, my daughter Ruth married her college sweetheart. They had been aware of the significance of the day as they struggled to find a date that worked. They finally determined that this was one way to redeem a day fraught which such harsh memories.
As rain threatened to ruin their outdoor pictures, they purchased enough colorful umbrellas to give one to each member of the bridal party. The multi-colored umbrellas added a splash of color to their attire and resulted in memorable pictures. Other pictures included Ruth in her wedding dress and galoshes.
Later, at the reception, while guests waited for the dancing to begin, my daughter and her new husband were delayed as his grandfather was taken to the hospital with a possible heart attack. Another reminder of the fragility of life.
The evening concluded with a chorus line danced to the song, “New York, New York,” as the newlyweds were moving to the Big Apple to begin their life together.
During those early years, Ruth’s mother-in-law died from the cancer that had plagued her life for years. The sweetness of early love was mixed with the bitterness of loss.
September 11 Memorial
I’ve been to the September 11 Memorial twice now, both times on trips to visit my daughter and son-in-law. The Memorial, in all its simplicity, is a fitting tribute to those who died. Despite the crush of New York traffic and the noise of the city that doesn’t sleep, it is a source of quiet. I fully expected an emotional reaction on my first visit. I was surprised when this reaction had not abated upon my second visit. The Memorial had not lost its impact.
I wonder, is this how my parent’s generation felt about Pearl Harbor? The terrible loss of life, an act of war. And I remember other such tragedies throughout history, going back to Old Testament times – the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile, Masada. They have lost their impact on us through the passage of time. People of that time must have felt the same way we feel about September 11. Future generations will have their own Pearl Harbor and September 11. And so it goes. We’ve yet to learn the ways of peace.
Redeem the Day
So this day holds bittersweet memories for me. Sweet memories of my daughter’s wedding day, made all the sweeter by the addition of two grandbabies over the past few years. Memories that remind me how precious life is, and how fragile.
Life continues to be a mixture of joy and sorrow, bitter and sweet. We redeem the day, make it holy, as we remember those we have lost and continue to love those who remain and live our lives as fully as possible.
Do you have your own September 11 story? I’d love to hear it.
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