Every year finds me remembering that day and the days that followed as so many do. Remembering all that was so connected always moves me. I pray for the families that have lost much and were never the same. I think of all the communities that were deeply connected and never the same after this day in history. This year I have been reminded how deeply families were impacted and how many live with the aftermath in ways that are not quite as obvious 21 years later. For one of my classes I had to pick a famous person to research and create a pseudo addiction counseling treatment goals and plan. I picked Pete Davidson from Saturday Night Live because he has struggled and sought help very publicly. I learned quite a bit from watching and reading about his journey but one thing that many probably know but I learned was his proximity to the grief of 9-11. His father was a fire fighter that was lost in one of the towers rescuing people.
Recently I moved into a townhouse outside Pittsburgh and met my neighbor who is originally from Brooklyn. My husband has family from the city and we lived north of the city during this time. My neighbor shared her heartache of losing a niece who worked as a waitress in one of the towers. She was covering a friend’s shift. She left behind two little kids. These kids are now grown. 9-11 impacted a large population of the United States at one time. The impact whether the immediate loss or continued impact of financial, physical, or mental stress still goes on.
After chatting with my neighbor, I was reminded of the quote”
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”Ian Maclaren (sometimes attributed to Plato)
I think of my friend who lost his wife. His daughter started school without her mom. The odds are a small portion of people will know this or will remember. I have another friend who has lost a spouse and multiple children all to tragedies. Every day she interacts with people and continues to do life. Sometimes it is easy to forget that we are all fragile on some level. We all have hurts, losses, and longings. It is easy to want people to remember our hurts or want them to cut us a break because of something in our life but offering this to others may not always be the knee jerk reaction especially when someone appears to be acting difficult or being a certain way to us.
This reminds me of the 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon, but for all of us it is really 1 degree of separation from grief. This is not meant to be a downer but a reminder to myself and anyone else who may need it to go easy on people. Yes, there are needs for boundaries and speaking truth in love but stopping and remembering that much behavior is trauma-informed and grief is a bed fellow for all who walk this earth helps refine perspective. We have opportunities to offer random acts of kindness and mercy whether it be a smile or letting that pushy person go in front of us without letting them feel the annoyance or inconvenience that we might feel. Letting go of our right to be offended might be the kindness that a stranger needs that day to switch directions. So many people feel hassled and hurried, a small act of kindness can stand out. No, it does not bring back a loved one, fix a divorce, or stop abuse, but it does remind a person that there is still good in the world, and they have value. We can be part of adding to the hope and healing, or part of the grief and destruction.