Loss is never easy.
Nineteen years on the job and I’m pretty sure I’ve typed that lead sentence a time or two before. It’s just so blatantly true. It’s also absolutely literal in every way possible.
Loss of a game, loss of a job, loss of belongings, loss of a bet or loss of a loved one – all hard. Some quite obviously harder than others. Last week I came to realize that even applied to the loss of our world as we knew it on September 10, 2001.
Driving my children to school on the morning of 9/11/19 I shared with them (as I always do) the role which their father played during the early days of post 9/11 as well as the months and years which followed. The sacrifice of military families and first responders to ensure safety and freedoms for this great country.
Each year on this day, my eyes leak. Eighteen years later, last Wednesday they did it again. Yet last Wednesday was different, because for the first time in 18 years I understood why.
I didn’t “miss 9/12” like so many had shared on Social Media. I didn’t miss the temporary unification of a country while under attack. The tears which fell were tears of mourning. A mourning of a country which was forever changed on 9/11/01 and every day since.
What I realized after depositing my kids to school with eyes leaking as I spoke, was I missed 9/10. I missed the days of going to the airport and not getting undressed before boarding a plane. I missed the days of people looking at one another as fellow humans and not wondering if they had motives. I missed a lot of innocence which has since been lost in this great country.
Oh sure, I can hear the proudest of the proud patriots sharing the obvious, yes we remain free and strong and well ... not really united (sadly) but I still like many others, believe in this great country. We have however lost a large piece of innocence and that forever changed on 9/11.
What I realized last Wednesday is that mourning never ends. We may become less verbal about it, maybe reminisce a little less but the void remains.
Those sentiments were revisited the following Monday, September 16 as I acknowledged the 51st birthday of a friend no longer physically with us. I use that term simply because while she may have left us 29 years ago, her spirit has stayed strong with a large number of us.
Madelyn Alice Hogan was what I would describe as a once in a lifetime friend, a shining light in every way imaginable. You know the type, they light up a room with their smile when they walk in. Their energy is contagious and you’re challenged to think of anyone speaking ill of them.
As I acknowledged her birthday last Monday, I thought again about this whole mourning thing. I mean twenty nine years … that’s more years than her actual life, yet it still stings like yesterday. There is no “moving on” or “getting easier” when you lose someone you love. Sure, many like to share that wisdom but it’s not real. The void remains a void indefinitely.
We move forward with life, we don’t however “move on.”
Just like the days, months, years which followed 9/11 we’ve continued on but are forever changed.
Personally speaking those two significant days – the day the towers fell and the birthdate of my once in a lifetime friend – are my reminders days. They are the days that I reconnect and remember to not sweat the small stuff, to live as if there is no tomorrow and to graciously forgive – always.
Gone but not forgotten … yeah, I miss 9/10.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.