The Day That Changed Everything: 09/11

I can't tell you exactly how many times I've been asked, "Where were you when you heard the news?" The answer is that I was in a parking lot of the local WalMart, having just escorted a tearful, tantrum-filled child to the car to cool down. I was in tears. I was frustrated. I was exhausted from working nights so that I could be home for kids and existing on 4-5 hours of sleep a night. And then I turned on the radio. I remember very clearly that I was turning out of the end of the parking lot and listening to the news people as they described the first plane hitting the trade center. I drove home slowly, listening to the news and my heart breaking. By the time I arrived home and rushed in to turn on the TV the second plane was hitting. In that moment I knew that things would never be the same again. I spent the day alternating between watching the minute-by-minute coverage and wanting to run to my daughter's school and pick her up, to make sure she was safe, that the horrible things going in the world hadn't touched her.

Ten years later my daughter is a whole lot farther away from me then she was that day. She's 9 hours away. When we considered colleges the rule was that she couldn't be further then it took to travel in a day. I needed to know that I could get there if I needed. There was a time when this wouldn't have been a consideration, but in light of such horrific events as 9/11, the Columbine shootings and the shootings at Virginia Tech it has become the norm to be that much more aware of what could happen. We can't live in fear. If we do then they've won. But we can be aware of how precious each day is and how our mentality has to change with the times. My mother worked as a Civilian on a Navy Base. She was aware that there was always the chance that something could happen. Part of my Father's duty in the Coast Guard was to watch for submarines or enemy boats from a cold tower near Lubec. Myself, I was a child who grew up under the shadow of the Cold War and saw the wall come down.

Ten years ago I was just finishing a book. It was a sequel to Obsidian and involved a Terrorist plot. After 9/11 there wasn't a editor or agent who wanted to touch it. The fact that the threat took place on American soil wasn't something that anyone wanted to see or read. I couldn't blame them. Despite the fact that I was passionate for the story I couldn't stomach it myself. The story is still in a drawer.

So many things changed that day. An innocence was lost along with so many, many people. For them, we are more careful, more cautious and we remember. So, like the others I'll ask... Where were you on when you heard the news?

Your Three Words

Good Morning America did a cross-country call for people to share their own three words that give the message they want to share with the world. As a writer, I can tell you that just three words is a huge challenge that sometimes can't be contained a 300 page novel. Still, the idea of connecting with just three words was intriguing. But in my challenge to come up with the perfect three words I realized that at different times in my life those three words were very different.

When I was child when my cares were nothing more than how many days until summer was over or what my next big adventure would be... my words would have been something along the lines of... Life is Good.

During those horrible preteen years when I felt so impossibly invisible, my words would have been... Please See Me.

At my daughter graduated last June I reflected on my own graduation. I remember so clearly the expectations and the impossible see-saw between knowing that things would never be the same and allure of moving on to other adventures. My words would have been... Onward and Upward.

And then I met Keith and we decided to get married. In our 21 years together Keith has never held me back, never told me I could do anything and never blinked when I told him I wanted to do something so off the wall as become a writer, travel around the country, or become a ghost hunter. (okay, so he may have blinked at the ghost hunter part, but he didn't say no). Though simplistic, the words will always be... I love you.

When I had my children those three words and my world changed. It was no longer just Keith and I, but something so much bigger. We've had good times, bad times, crazy times and a few sane times. But even with what we have both accomplished in our lives we both agree that the greatest thing we ever did was have our children. For them, my words are... Love is Forever.

When my mother was dying of cancer and was preparing what she wanted done she knew she wanted four words put on her stone. She felt that these four words best described the way she had lived her life and what she wanted to pass on to the rest of us. In this case, 3 words were not enough. They are... Live, Love, Laugh and Learn.

And, when cancer took Keith's dad we went through the incredible loss all over again. I felt worse for Keith because I knew the incredible hole that tears through your heart when you lose a parent. For Arthur those three words are, ironically.... We Miss You. (I say "ironically" because he's been more present in our lives since he passed.)

This brings me to the present. I'm sure that as I go on from here my words will change along with my life. There will be new challenges, new loves, new losses and and new experiences, but for right now, if I can pass along only three words then I offer them up for everyone... Live Every Day.

So, what are your three words?

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