As the 20th anniversary of one of the worst days for our country passes, I feel the need to talk about love and caring for each other.
Those of you who were babies or in early grade school, will not remember the day. Some of you may not have been born yet. On the other hand, those of us who are older will never forget it. We remember where we were and who we were with when we first heard the news. As soon as we could, we were glued to our TVs and watched in horror as people jumped from windows and the twin towers burned and collapsed.
Your family may have been personally touched by the tragedy that unfolded and I am truly sorry for your loss. That day, however, and the days after, we were all ONE family. The anger that we felt for those who hated our country so much was no match for the love and caring that we felt for each other—no matter ethnicity, religion, skin color, occupation, or any other delineator. We were one!
I was on a road trip and heard about the first airplane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center on my car radio. The announcer suggested that the plane veered off course. That did not sound right to me. The flight path for airplanes does not come close to city high-rise’s and, if a pilot saw looming danger, he or she would have done everything to avoid it. Then the second plane hit the South Tower. It was evident we were under attack.
As soon as I could, I stopped at a friend’s office and watched the unfolding news on a TV there. The Pentagon was hit by another plane and then United Airlines flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers struggled with the hijackers. Eventually I headed home and, like most, watched the effort to save lives unfold. The stories of bravery are incredible. The pictures of that day and those that followed are forever etched in my mind.
Ironically, I had plans to fly the next weekend from the east coast where I lived, to Arizona to see family. When tragedy hits no matter the circumstance, a person feels the need to be surrounded by those they love, and I was determined to get to Arizona to hug my sons and sisters. In the days following the terrorist attack, that was not easy. My flights were rerouted due to cancellations and the scarcity of flight crews. It took a full day and extra flight legs, but I made it to Arizona and those hugs never felt so good!
You may know someone who contracted COVID and sadly, died. It may have been in the first round that brought our nation and economy to a standstill. It may have been in the subsequent spread of the Delta variant. It does not matter if your friend or relative was vaccinated (or not); if they were Republican or Democrat (or neither); or what church/temple/synagogue they may have attended (or not). It is a huge loss to their family, and everyone who knows them mourns and feels their sorrow.
If you or your family experience the loss of a beloved family member or a friend or coworker, you feel it—the profound sadness. It does not matter if the death was due to COVID, cancer, a stroke, a heart attack, a bullet, or a drug overdose. The sense of loss does not discriminate. Even as years pass, the hole in your life is still there. It never goes away! It may be buried for a while, but the unexpected—a smell, a song, a place you drive by—will open the wound. At first you feel the loss all over again and tears come easy. Gradually, over time, instead of tears you feel deep gratitude for their life and the time you shared, and eventually you smile.
Unfortunately, the affect a person has on the lives of others is often unknown to them and to those they loved. I carry with me the kind words a little girl said to me as we waited for a flight to take my father home for burial. I send endless thanks to the man that found my lost son that terrifying day at the beach. I want to hug my friends who sat with me as I cried for whatever reason, and I will always be indebted to my sisters who are an endless source of love and encouragement.
To each of you who are reeling due to the death of someone close to you, I offer my deepest sympathy and I embrace you. It is my feeling that no life is undeserving of respect and gratitude. So, I encourage each of you today to write a note or send an email or text to someone who has made a difference in your life, or to their relative or friend. Do not wait. Let them know you care.
We are ONE family!
~Beverly J Bowers, CFP®