Every single one of us remember where we were on this day 13 years ago.I was attending college in Tulsa. My husband-to-be was in the very city I was watching on the news that morning. All public transportation was closed and he was walking many miles to get home, in streets filled with thousands of people trying to do the same. I turned on the news after the first tower had been hit. At that point there was a sense of confusion as to what was really going on.
I was also watching live as the second tower was hit. That changed everything. That was the moment we all knew-we had just witnessed a declaration of war. Every sense of calm, safety and security we felt vanished into thin air.
I remember feeling shaken most of the day. I was unable to wrap my head around what I had just witnessed. I had a feeling life had just changed but I didn't exactly know how. It was much the same feeling I had the day of the Oklahoma City bombing which occurred just a car ride away from my home.
I was in Junior High then. I remember gathering around the TV with my fellow students in shock at what we were witnessing. I also remember watching live as they imploded the Federal Building in OKC just as I remember watching when the Twin Towers fell.
Down went the first. Down went the second. Horror. Sadness. Unbelief.
It was astonishing to see these big and mighty buildings collapse into a pile of ash and rubble. Just that very morning they stood firm, solid and a testament to greatness. A mere hours later they were gone, reduced to a pile of rubble.
When they fell something seemed to fall in each of us. The feeling of safety. The feeling of security. The feeling of control. All of those are false feelings, of course, and what 9/11 did was drive that feeling home even further.
What was seen, heard and felt that day is not unlike what many people feel when they experience an earth shaking event. Be it the loss of something we cared about or the loss of someone we cared for. The same feelings abound, as do the same fears. You feel as if what stood strong just hours before is now a crumpled mess before you. You find yourself asking the question, what's next? Where do I go from here?
The answer I've found, choosing to rise.
I'm not suggesting to rise in a defiant way. You can't let anger be what drives you to rebuild. It's not about coming back "bigger and stronger than ever." It's not a time to shake your fist but to hit your knees.
I'm talking about rising from a place of humility.
Realizing how much of life is out of your hands is a very humbling experience. Realizing your best made plans are just that, plans. Realizing you need much grace to pick yourself up from the ashes and slowly move forward. You might not be "bigger and stronger" but you can be wiser and more compassionate.
There's no true way to rebuild back to what life was, but you can humbly take the pieces and move forward with strength. Never forgetting what was lost and vowing to allow that loss to bring purpose and meaning.
You won't be the same you. You are marked forever by what transpired in your life. But you can be a different version of you. One that inspires. One that shines.
Let it be said of you, let it be said of us, we will not be defeated. Our hearts can break for loss just as our hearts can hope for the future. Out of the ashes with strength and with humility, we will choose to rise.
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