Sunday, September 10, 2006


Today, millions of people will look back to September 11, 2001. There will be many moving tributes, and memorials, and for those who lost loved ones that day, I imagine it will be a milestone that they will prefer to have behind them.

Like everyone else, I can recall with exact details what I was doing when I learned the news. Paige had OT that day, and my mother, and then my mother-in-law called as the towers went down. I was scheduled to give a lecture at the University of Ottawa that afternoon to some medical students about Down syndrome.

Our OT and I sat and watched in disbelief as the events unfolded. Like so many families, we quickly learned that the Pentagon had also been hit, and my nephew was nearby, unable to get out on a cell phone, and unable to get home as all public transportation had stopped. It would be hours before we knew that he was safe.

My friend Kate who works in Manhattan was among the thousands of people who walked home, covered in soot and dirt and dust. Ironically, her cellphone did not work in NYC, but she was able to call here, in Canada, and I was able to call her family in the city and let them know she was o.k.

I'm sure everyone is full of many thoughts about the events of that day. It is still with disbelief that I know that the men who chose to drive these planes did so thinking they were heroes, that Allah wanted them to do something so horrific. It is hard not to hate the people who did this, but I believe they had been led to belief they were doing a good thing.

And with crazy propaganda in the Middle East, I'm sure many people there believe that our soliders are doing the same thing now - killing for their God.

Perhaps its just hard to wrap my brain around such abject hatred of someone because of their nationality, their colour, etc. Its hard to understand that anyone could be so brainwashed to not be able to see the forest for the trees - that this was a cowardice, malicious act against innocent people.

Everyone's lives changed that day -- our children will not remember a world prior to 9/11 - as we live in a "before and after" mode of that day. Travel is much more complicated, and I sometimes have a tiny little nag inside when I'm at a concert or a baseball game, or any event with large amounts of people.

In order to still enjoy our freedom, we must live with that nag but still find a way to live. There is a fine line between safety and paranoia sometimes, and if we allow ourselves to fall on the wrong side of it, the terrorists are still winning at their game.

I hope that today doesn't become another political debate day -- where we argue the rights and wrongs of their actions, and ours, where we struggle with war and its affects.

Let today be their day -- those who lost so very much.

Today, I pray for ALL the families who were touched by this tragedy. For those who are still deep in their grief who have had to face personal and financial loss; for those who cannot find an answer to "why"; for those who now must raise a family as a single parent; for those children who lost a mom or a dad, for the moms and dads that lost a son or a daughter.

I honour all of these families, and stand in awe of those who have persevered -- who have been able to heal to the point of realizing that they must continue living, for themselves and for their loved ones. For those hearts that grew much larger with grief and unimaginable pain, who have found a way to begin to fill that gap with joy and happiness again. For those families who have learned to begin to love and trust and laugh again -- for the children who didn't deserve to lose a mom or a dad -- that their families have found a way to bring light back to them.

I truly believe that our life is set out before us in order for us to learn crucial life lessons along the way. I find great personal peace in trying to look deep inside of myself to find those lessons -- both good and bad, as I constantly learn from my life.

But for the heroes of 9/11, the ones who survived, and the ones who didn't, I cannot begin to hold a candle to their strength and courage.

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