It seems like such a long time ago but then it also feels like it was just yesterday.
I remember having feelings and thoughts about how life would never ever be the same. In some aspects that statement was very true. Our lives were changed forever. We lost something very dear to us. We lost the sense of safety and assurance that we had. The task of air travel was forever changed, our view of the world was tainted. For as much as I try to remain open minded I confess that I let my bigotry run rampant when the topic of Islam is broached. It is hard to be objective, yet it is so very easy to be judgmental.
With all the controversy of late about the proposed mosque in New York and a small church in Florida it seems that the world has slipped into a vacuum and everything feels like it is spinning out of control.
So on this day of remembrance where no doubt we will be revisited with images that we tried so hard to push out of our heads I share with you something I wrote in the aftermath of 9/11.
Written on September 20th, 2001
On September 10th the simple act of turning on the television brought traffic, weather updates and morning coffee with Regis & Kelly.
Everything changed on that horrible Tuesday morning.
On September 11th the world became an uncertain and frightening place.
A simple act like turning on the television, now brings the unending and unimaginable images into my home. I sit and watch the billowing smoke and twisted rubble, the growing number of missing person posters and the exhausted firefighters with their haunted expressions on their soot covered faces.
It’s all so difficult to look at, yet I find it hard to look away.
The world feels unfamiliar.
Today, amid the chaos and destruction I found a brief respite of peace and familiarity.
As I sat in my living room with my ham and cheese sandwich, surfing through the channels, trying to find some diversion from the unending crisis coverage, I skipped from channel to channel.
More smoke and twisted metal - click, the number of missing people keeps growing - click, more attacks expected – click, click, click……
And then I heard it.
"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood......" and there before me flashed the face of a trusted and old friends, Mr. Rogers.
He wore the same wonderful zip-up sweater and tie, he had on the same sneakers. He sang to me the same song that I knew by heart.
He told me I was special. He told me I was his friend. He took me on a trip to his barbershop and I watched as he got his hair cut. He explained to me that all things change and grow around us, some things change and grow without us even being aware of it, like the hair on our head, (or the nation we call home).
Our hair grows and eventually we all have to get it cut (or our nations changes and we learn to adapt).
It was a simple, yet very profound statement.
I went to Make-Believe Land and spent time with King Friday, Lady Elaine, Henrietta Pussycat and Daniel Tiger.
When I was done visiting in Make-Believe Land I took the trolley back to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He was there waiting patiently for my return, we fed his fish and played a guessing game with plastic vegetables.
It took only thirty minutes but as I sat and had lunch with Mr. Rogers, I did not see visions of running fire fighters or exploding planes, I saw an old and trusted friend.
It was a only half an hour, but it was half an hour of simplicity and,familiarity.
It was a half an hour of being reminded of the things I learned as a child. Things that I may find hard to remember as an adult. Mr. Rogers reminded me that even now in this sometimes violent world we live in, it’s a "good feeling to know your alive ".
Even now writing these words I can hear the melody and his soft and beautiful voice singing in my head
“It's such a good feeling to know you're alive.
It's such a happy feeling: You're growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say, "I think I’ll make a snappy new day.
It's such a good feeling a very good feeling
The feeling you know,
that I’ll be back when the day is new, And I'll have more ideas for you,
And you'll have things you'll want to talk about,
And I will to ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ....”Mr. Rogers sang to me and told me he "was my friend” he told me I was special and I believed him.
He sang to me with his sweet, comforting and loving voice. A voice that I have grown up listening to and trusting in.
In Mr. Rogers Neighborhood there are no terrorist.
In Mr. Rogers Neighborhood there’s no hate.
Love lives in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.
In Mr. Rogers Neighborhood there is always a simple, but beautiful song to sing.
I had lunch with Mr. Rogers today.
September 11, 2001 has changes all of us.
It has changed me.
Amid all the chaos I found a small bit of unchanged wonderful normalcy.
I had lunch with Mr. Rogers today, and I think I might do it again tomorrow.
On this day of remembrance may your thoughts be filled with blessings and your life be filled with loving friends and family.
Let us all remember those who lost their lives on that tragic day and let’s all give thanks to those who bravely ran into the smoke and the fire to try and save the lives of strangers!