There are moments in every person’s life that I call before and after moments. The event is so important, so powerful that it changes the person from that point on. The death of a parent, getting married, having a baby—good or bad those moments make us different. It is almost as if we’ve walked through a doorway never to return to our old lives.
There are a few of those before and after moments that have happened in our nation’s history. Everyone talks about where they were and what they were doing when that point in history occurred. For my father’s generation, it was the assassination of President Kennedy. For my generation it was the Challenger disaster. Most recently, that moment in time was the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Forever we were changed, forever we will remember.
On September 11, 2001, I was at work. I was working with a therapy group at the time, and my supervisor took me aside to tell me what had just happened. We had a television in another room, and we watched as the disasters unfolded on the screen. I remember how surreal the experience was, how I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing and could not yet digest how devastating the day would turn out to be. I remember later that evening watching the news, clutching close to my husband, and sobbing myself to sleep at night.
The next day, September 12th, was my friend Jennifer’s birthday. We had planned to go out to eat for supper that night with a group of friends and family. As we sat together, solemn even at a birthday party, we talked about the disasters. We talked in outrage at what others had done and the cruelty that was almost beyond belief. We talked about what should and shouldn’t be done to those who had been so evil. We talked in circles about the day and how horrible it all was. Everyone’s faces were tired and many of us had bloodshot eyes from tears and mourning for the loss of so many.
My sweet baby cousin was present that day. She had been born the previous year and was toddling along, still in diapers. She was the first baby among our group of friends and family, and we all doted on her. At one point her momma moved her to the tabletop so that we could all play with her. As she stood on the table, so sweet, so innocent, so happy, so naive to all that was going on in the harsh world, she urinated all over the table. Yep, you read that correctly, pee-pee everywhere…everywhere on a table that we were about to eat food on. Everyone burst into laughter, big gulps of laughter that resounded throughout the restaurant, belly laughs that we all felt down in the depth of our souls. We all needed it. We all needed the reminder from that sweet young soul that life would go on. We needed that experience to break the tension of the day and remind us that babies will still be born, diapers will still need to be changed and will sometimes leak profusely, and that birthday celebrations are even more important now because they remind us of the ones we love the most.
Today, I encourage you to cherish those who are closest to you and remind them of how important they are in your life. Pray for those who have lost loved ones in the disasters as the next few days will most likely be very difficult for them. Please also pray for our nation and for so many who are fighting overseas. Don’t forget the sense of community that we felt after the disasters, hold on to that feeling as we enter the next few days and the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. While before and after moments change us forever, it is also important to remember that how they change us is up to us.
Blessings to each of you.