Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Remembered

This morning, as I drove Ethan to school, I was remembering where I was eight years ago when the attacks came. I was in the hospital. I had just given birth to Ethan the day before....not even 24 hours. My physician had come in to check on me and had said we were just attacked by terrorists as he turned on the t.v. In my state of semi-consciousness and sleep depravity I thought he said, "We were attacked by Paris." I sat up and as I rubbed my eyes, I saw the second plane hit the second tower. I sat bewildered wondering what I had just brought my new son into.

I can remember my parents discussing where they were when they learned that John F. Kennedy had been killed. These are moments seared in memory and transformative in the tragic pain of a nation. I suspect that is how my grandparents felt when they learned about Pearl Harbor.

It seems like just yesterday this tragedy occurred. I was just wondering how we should regard the tragedy of September 11, 2001 eight years later? Certainly we should be respectful of those whose grief was so great that is seems more like yesterday than eight years past. They deserve our prayers and tender thoughts. We also should remember those whose lives were cut short that day. Their deaths deprive us all of the promise of their lives. In addition, I think eight years is long enough to gain some perspective and to ask some of the tough questions we were not able to ask in the pain and shock of the moment. You know the questions; they have lingered at the edge of your consciousness for a long time. Maybe you even dared to ask them in the presence of people you trust enough to be vulnerable with. However, the tough questions have never been asked aloud in the public discourse of this nation. Now an atmosphere of partisanship has been created that will ensure that any politician who dares to engage the tough issues is certain to be painted as unpatriotic and un-American.

Eight years ago, the world rallied to our side. "Nous sommes tous Americans"—We are all Americans—read the headlines in French newspapers. Could different leadership have brought the world together to address the core issues that feed terrorist hatred or that create the conditions in which it flourishes? Would Muslim extremists find recruits or an audience if the world regarded Western nations as kind, benevolent and generous rather than as selfish, materialist consumers?

I guess the hardest question of all on this anniversary is this: Did we end up with the leaders we really deserve? I know that true transformation must begin within. Tragedies can be the motivator to change, or they can reinforce our defensiveness. Which one happens is always our toughest choice.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Eli Thompson 1973-2009

I know I am a little late in writing this... I have issues...death issues. I don't deal well. When I was struck with the news that a fellow classmate had passed away in a sky-diving accident, I went numb. My heart is still heavy writing this. A friend from high school has died. The news spread like wildfire amongst us and it was numbing. Eli Thompson has died. He died doing what he loved. He was a professional sky-diver and stunt & fly master. He was in Switzerland shooting some footage for a film. He somehow missed his jump from the helicopter to the side of the mountain and died on impact. As sad as it seems, perhaps there is NO OTHER way to go than doing what you love....

I went numb because Eli and I were in the same graduating class in high school. If you're like me, you still think that was a sweet 5 years ago. Well, sometimes, I act like it was 5 years ago. It's scary when people start passing around you that are the same young age. Death is for people my grandparents my head.

Another reason for my numbness is Eli left a gorgeous wife who is expecting their son ANY day now and 2 beautiful, young girls. I couldn't fathom being put in this heart wrenching situation and feeling like I could go on without the love of my life.

Like I said earlier, I don't deal well with death. I found myself trying to find everything I could on Eli in the past 18 years since we all graduated and went on with our lives. It's sad that we all are reuniting so many years later through online facets. Some of you have lived close to each other and have remained in contact since the day we walked across that stage at COC. Others of us moved away and went to college. Our lives took us away from California. Perhaps we didn't look back as soon as we stepped over the state line, or we just didn't care about looking back. Whatever your story is, it's an important one and has molded you into the person you are today regardless of the circumstances.

What I do remember about Eli is that he had blond hair that was sometimes braided. It was about 5 inches long. He was my height and the boy never stopped smiling. I was new to Saugus my junior year of high school winter semester. I swear that boy acted like he knew me forever. He made me feel welcome no matter what others thought of the girl from Texas. Eli knew no social boundaries, he knew no strangers. His heart glowed and you could always see it on his face.

The world still mourns the passing of a beautiful man.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that life is short, because we all know it. I am going to tell you to absolutely do what you love and to love with all your heart. Don't do anything half-heartedly, it may be your only opportunity to show the world who you truly are. Be a legacy...leave your mark on this world. Make sure it's a great one.

I can put away the pictures, I can put the dreams aside, but I can't seem to get you out of my mind.


To make a donation to his family:

I thank my God every time I remember you. Phillipians 1:3