In 2001, I was pregnant with my first child. I had three baby showers and was stockpiled with every thing I needed in anticipation of this new life I had waited so long to meet. My husband and I didn't have a lot of money, but we both worked, and he certainly made enough money as a skycap at the airport to cover all the expenses after the baby came. Then on, September 11, two planes flew into the World Trade Center towers, and in that moment, our lives were instantly altered by something that had happened on the other side of the country.
I remember the morning well. My husband and I woke up around 5AM PST, 8AM on the East Coast. We were going to visit a factory his aunt worked at, to see about him getting a second job for when the baby came. On the way there, we heard some fuzzy reports about a plane hitting one of the towers, but at that point it seemed like an accident- maybe a small plane that unintentionally veered off course. By the time we had finished the interview and were on the way back home, the news was clear. This was no accident, as a second plane had hit the other tower. The world was on alert that America had suffered an unprecedented terrorist attack. We walked into our house in time to watch the second tower collapse. Not long after, we heard about the two other highjacked planes that had crashed. Immediately, all flights were grounded until further notice. This meant that my husband's job as a skycap, someone who checks bags curbside at the airport, was also suspended until further notice. We didn't have any savings. We were young and dumb and preparing for the future wasn't on our radar. I clutched my belly and sobbed, afraid of what was to come and wondering how we could ever make it through this disaster.
In that time of uncertainty, however, relational miracles happened. We were transformed through our shock and grief to a people who stepped into our authentic, compassionate, helpful and loving selves. We vowed to be a country that banded together to overcome all obstacles that the time was throwing our way. We rebuilt where the towers stood and we never forgot. To this day, we remember where we were, what we were doing, and how we felt when the towers fell. That baby in my belly is now eighteen, and the years have not diminished the emotion of that day. But ultimately, we got through, we pressed on, and we showed ourselves as the resilient people we are capable of being. My husband got his job back not long after, I had a lovely birth, and what was once a time of great distress is now just a blip in the scheme of our whole lives.
Now we find ourselves once again in a situation where we must ask ourselves what kind of people we want to be when faced with a hardship none of us deserve or asked for. Again, I am expecting a baby any day in a world where fear and scarcity are vying for our undivided attention. And there have been plenty of moments where I have allowed them to win in my thoughts and actions. Will my baby be healthy? Will I be healthy? My eighteen year old may not have a Senior Prom or graduation. Basketball, soccer, dance, piano, all extracurricular activities are canceled until further notice. Small businesses are suffering. We fear we won't have enough bottled water or bread or toilet paper. But as my dad told me in 2001 when I cried to him about my sorry state, "There are so many more worse off than you. People have lost their lives. You still have yours. For that, be grateful."
The greatest gifts we have in this life are the relationships we hold dear and the fact that we get to choose how we will experience our reality. I'm not suggesting we ignore the call that caution is needed. It's important to know the basics of what is going on and how we can best protect ourselves and others. But then we must go back to living our life. We only have one of them and it goes by way too fast to fall victim to the fear and scarcity mentality. When was the last time we were afforded this much opportunity to connect with the people we love most in this world? When were you last able to have plenty of time to read a good book, enjoy a long walk, clean out your closet, make a meal together, sit on the porch and listen to music, just ENJOY RIGHT NOW? Often, when I take my oldest to work, there is a man we see on the street corner who is ALWAYS dancing. The epitome of "to the beat of his own drum." He seemed to be going at it extra hard today, though. Just absolutely loving it. I texted my daughter and said, "The guy is totally rocking out on the street corner. He is not playing today, boy." She sent crying laughing emojis and said, "I'm sure he makes people smile." I said, "He's going into my blog today." She replied, understanding immediately, "That in a crazed world around him he's still doing him. That stayed the same." "Exactly", I replied. And so my prayer for us all is that we will continue to do us, that we will continue to take our self-care seriously, and that we will do all we can, while we can, to make people smile.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel