In recent history, this date has a terrible and sad association, but with no disrespect (quite the opposite, actually) for those whose lives were taken, I choose to remember other things as well.

It’s my Aunt Marlene’s birthday, for one. She’s an amazing woman who has had to bear loss that no mother should have to, and done so with more grace than many. She’s been the rock to my Uncle Wes who has endured years of health challenges made so much more bearable by my aunt’s support. She’s a woman who can talk anyone’s ear off, leaving a stranger feeling like an old friend. She’s a wonderful cook, a generous host, a kind friend, and a thoughtful human being who loves to laugh. One of my greatest joys is seeing her try to one-up her younger brother, my father.

As you remember those who died on that terrible day in 2001, remember the things you loved about them—the qualities that made a difference in your life and brought you joy. And if you know no one personally who died that day, you nonetheless were affected (we are, after all, deeply connected to each other). Take a moment today to celebrate life…that precious gift. Think of someone you love dearly, and let them know you’re grateful.

May you be at peace.

©Maria K. Benning, M.Ed.

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