Eleven years ago, I remember a clear, warm evening in San Francisco. I was at the Cheesecake Factory with my best friend. I think we had just come back from a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate her birthday. It was my aunt’s birthday and I had forgotten to call her to wish her a Happy Birthday, but I knew my mom was enjoying the day with her.
Early the next morning, I had weird dreams about a brownstone crumbling around me. I was trying to escape. I had my kitten in my arms.
We all know what happened next. Fear like I’ve never known coursed through my brain. I don’t need to watch the specials about the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC and the plane that went down in a Pennsylvania field. I lived through it via hours of endless news coverage. I cannot forget it.
What I will try to do instead is embrace life. Enjoy even the smallest moments, like the first sip of coffee. Take a minute to really look out my window while sitting at my desk and watch the water in the river flow by. Hug someone like I mean it. Face a silly fear. Tell someone I love them. Pay someone a sincere compliment. Help a stranger. Help a friend. Call that person I’ve been meaning to, but just couldn’t because I’ve been too busy with the rest of my life.
Because all those innocent people who died that day never got that one last chance we all think we have. They were just going about their routines, working, traveling, what we all do every day. Not to mention all of the first responders who were there to help, no one ever forgets them either.
Instead of living in fear that something awful might happen, for just one day, I want to feel happy to be alive. Not that I don’t feel that way often lately, but instead of remembering the fear, I want to celebrate the good things in life, however small or large they may be. I want to eat a cookie or two and not feel guilty!