As women, we have memories of incidents with our husbands that bring us great joy: what we wore on that first date or the night he proposed, those small gifts or a single rose during courtship that demonstrated his love, and the small details of wedding planning. The memories are endless as we reflect on those first years of marriage, the birth of our children and all their special events, and the life we shared.
All of us who experienced the tragedy of September 11, 2001, also will never forget the images of the destruction of the Twin Towers, the damaged Pentagon, and the disaster near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The day is forever etched in our memories. We wonder how this could have happened in the United States and what deep-seated hate of humankind could drive a person to participate in such an atrocity.
I remember how beautifully blue the sky looked as I drove from work that day. My co-workers and I were sent home since we were uncertain if other attacks were in process. I quickly bought a few essentials and gas from a nearby Walmart and went home to an empty house. I had been a widow for four years and was accustomed to being alone. But I remember sensing a loss that was hard to explain. I felt the sting of not having anyone with whom to share my sorrow and fear, and I remember the awareness that everything had come to a screeching halt. I live a few miles from an airport and since all air traffic stopped, the familiar sounds of incoming and outgoing planes had ceased. The silence was eerie.
Although we will never forget that experience, we want to remember to pray today for those whose lives were forever changed, especially for the hundreds of women who became widows and single mothers on 9-11. Their sense of loss is possibly greater because it’s linked to a national crisis, and the photos are so real that it seems as if the carnage happened yesterday.
We may not be able to personally comfort those who experienced loss on 9-11, but as we reflect on this great tragedy, may we not forget to reach out to that woman in our neighborhood who suffers the pain of losing life’s companion.