For the rest of the world, the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks is over. The living victims were honored and the fallen paid tribute. The day of remembering and mourning is behind us and life has resumed as usual. For some reason, I am having a harder time falling back into routine. Over the weekend I watched countless videos of footage of the tragedy, reliving the horror as if it had only just happened moments ago. I cried anew as I watched my east coast brothers and sisters succumb to their new reality. Nothing would ever, ever be the same. On this day nine years ago New York City was in the throes of the aftermath. Stricken by shock and grief, only the strongest of hearts could begin the gruesome and gut-wrenching task of cleaning up. For the rest of us, the weight of what we had just witnessed was finally sinking in.
As I think back and remember where I was and what I was doing I am struck by the fact that the events of that fateful day are just as surreal today as the moment they happened. This many years later I still cannot wrap my mind around the constant haunting truth. My America has been maimed. I suppose the reason why I am still grappling with this tragedy on a day as insignificant as today is because I have questions.
I have seen pictures of the people standing in the windows of the World Trade Center in the moments before its collapse. I have witnessed the desperation of a few tormented souls who refused to die at the hands of a crumbling, burning building. For those, their only way out of the nightmare was a quick and painless jump. Just as I did nine years ago, I grieve for all that was lost and cannot be reclaimed. I ache for mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. I cry for my homeland and still wrestle with my mind. How does one make sense of the sheer madness of it all? How does one come to grips with an unimaginable reality?
When the terrorists plunged their hate into the side of my America, were they truly convinced that they were in the will of God? Were they acting out of obedience to religion or God or some other unseen force? Were they at all concerned about their eternal future and what perhaps awaited them on the other side? Were they counting their sacrifice as worthy of the price they would ultimately pay? When they plunged their hate into the side of my America, did they have any regrets about what they were about to do? What were they thinking?
When the people stood in the windows looking out at the city below them, were they hoping and waiting for a miracle to save them? Did they know that their final moments on earth would be spent in a time bomb made of steel and concrete and hopes and dreams? Did they have time to say goodbye to loved ones before they took their final step into eternity? What were they thinking as they looked down at the city below?
Today on such an insignificant day, I am drawn repeatedly back into my own thoughts on this tragedy. When I am called to say goodbye to the world, how will I be remembered? Is the time I am spending now going to count for anything after I am gone? When all is said and done, what will be the quality of the content between the first date on my tombstone and the last? Will the passing of my life be celebrated or will my life be celebrated because of its passing? Am I giving? Am I loving? Am I sharing, helping, reaching, and forgiving? Am I truly living while I am alive? These are the questions I continually ask myself. I can only hope that in discovering the answers, I make the most out of my journey here before it slips away for all of eternity.