Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I think this is a day we all face with melancholy. I know I worry about Ahmed on 9/11. He volunteered, and it was the last time he would place himself in the thick of a terrible emergency. He'd been to Jalalabad after the earthquakes, Oklahoma City after the bombing. After 9/11, early in our relationship, I begged him to stop placing himself in harms way. It was the ultimate expression of selfishness.

Selfishness is rare for me. I don't generally put myself before others, and I am a strong believer in giving as much of yourself as you can. There's a song children always include in their school concerts, "Love is Something if You Give it Away." Simple, but true. Generosity, one of its softer facets, only works as an outgoing expression.

Yet I did ask him to stop giving of himself. I did ask him to keep himself safe for me. The losses people faced in the aftermath of 9/11 terrify me. I can't imagine that kind of strength. I can't imagine the kind of fortitude one finds to go on when the love of your life is gone. Where do you even find it?

A lot of people have ruminated about the value of continuing to remember the anniversary of our nation's darkest day. We used that phrase, "never forget" frivolously in the beginning. We had fewer doubts when the wound was fresh. We are a young nation, and too often forget lessons before the shadow of their teaching has faded in a new dawn.

Not this time. I will mark this day every year for the rest of my life. I don't need to wallow, or open the old wound. But I need to be grateful I didn't lose what so many did. I need to value the blessing of each new day. I need to remember being awoken by my mother, in a panic, and the tremor in my voice as I called Ahmed. Our love was new then. I need to remember the complete calm in his voice, the patience as he explained the following day that he'd been asked to help, and would do so. I need to remember the fear so I appreciate the security, the incredible sense of peace and gratitude I feel in every corner of myself when I hear his footsteps in the hall, hear his wonderfully gruff voice call out for his Badjia.

Never forget. Remember for the right reasons. Be thankful.

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