As the 9/11 commemorations have come to a close, the words Abraham Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg, another scene of unmentionable grief and death comes to mind. We’ve listened to eye witness accounts, viewed films and pictures of the tragedy, and recounted what we were doing and where we were at the moment when we heard of the tragedy.
But as I looked at the pictures of the faces of those who will never return, I asked myself, if they had one chance to live their lives over again, would they do anything differently? Were there any regrets of apologies not made, recitals or soccer games not attended because of work, travel plans that remained just plans, dogs not walked, gardens not planted, friends and relatives not called.
When I was growing up, every day I remembered my mother always had a hug and kiss for my dad when he left for work. If he wasn’t feeling well, mom had an extra special hug and words of understanding and encouragement. Once, when my parents had a misunderstanding, she wasn’t especially effusive that morning, but there was still the goodbye. I remember asking her, “if you’re mad at Dad, then how come you’re giving him a hug and kiss?” She replied, “because every day when your father leaves, I don’t know if he’s coming home. Every day we’re alive is a gift.”
Perhaps, if there’s one meaningful lesson that the loss of over 3000 lives may give us, it’s the gift of reflection of how we’re living our lives at this moment versus how we could or should be living them. Each day is a new day, a second chance, a new start for us, that those who died will never have. And what we do going forward as individuals, and as a nation, may be the best commemoration we can give those who died on 9/11.