Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where were you….on that terrible Sept. 11th….when life ended for so many people?  If you are like most, you probably will never forget how you felt that day as you heard about what transpired in New York City.  I was teaching at St. Mary’s in Rockwood. The secretary called up to my office to tell me what had happened. I turned the television on just in time to see the 2nd plane crash into the building. What a horrific day. The school went on lock-down, people were afraid, the phones were ringing like crazy….and the staff and I had to do our best to keep the children from hearing what had happened and go about our day as normal as possible. Not an easy task, when the adults were in utter shock and disbelief, not to mention concerned for the safety of our own families.  What a tragic day.
When I was in New York City for the TODAY show, I had an opportunity to visit the memorial on the site where the World Trade Center once stood.  Below is a copy of the post I made on FB about that experience. I thought perhaps it was ‘fitting” this day to repost it for those who are new to the group.
“The bus and boat tour took past many different places…then we got off the bus and did about a mile and half walking tour. This walk was in Battery Park and took us through the Financial District, Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, past the Washington museum, and finally to the 9-11 memorial and view of the nearly completed first tower of the new World Trade building. Visiting the site of the 911 was particularly moving for me. As we were walking through the streets towards the sight, we passed through the business corridor where so many people work on a daily basis…the guide was going at a quick pace and at first I thought it would be impossible for me to keep up. I became anxious and a bit stressed and honestly, wanted to just “sit on a bench” and take in what I was experiencing, seeing, thinking, etc. As I mentioned previously, I don’t just want to “walk past something” or ‘see something”…I want to feel it…think about it…reflect on it. This tour did not allow time for that and it was a bit frustrating. The initial “panic” about wondering if I could keep up the quick pace….came not from reality…but from “past Theresa” thinking. For a moment, I had slipped back into the way of thinking that I had known for all of my life…Old Theresa was saying, “you can’t do this…you can’t even walk…ýou can’t even begin to think you can do what “everybody else in the world can do….and takes for granted….girl, you might as well just sit down and “watch the world….because you aren’t ever going to be able to do it!” This was the reality of my life 2 years ago. I spent so many years just sitting on the sidelines….watching life as a spectator….not a participant. That old Theresa mentality tried to sneak in yesterday at the onset of the tour and stop me. In reality….NEW THERESA CAN…and DID…keep up!!!! New Theresa can walk a mile or 2 or even 3, and not miss a beat. New Theresa can do so many things that each of the other participants on the tour….and probably 90% of the population….take for granted.
Profound lesson I learned…..COMPASSION….makes me more conscious of this question: What do I do every day….that someone with a disability or social disorder or physical or mental handicap….or emotional issue…or addiction….or WHATEVER…..cannot do? Yesterday’s walk made me think of this with every step. While everyone else was absorbing the history and educational information the guide was telling them…I was feeling things so differently. I kept thinking as I walked….how many times do I leave my house every morning and drive to work without even thinking about the gift of life that I have and how precious it is? I thought about all those people that worked in the trade center that walked or passed by these same buildings on that fateful morning, taking for granted that they would come home after work like they have done every other day. How many times do I see something…hear something…feel the cold wind on my face…hear the traffic and conversation and noise of life…..and take it for granted, without thinking about all those who can’t? DO I fully appreciate all the “little things” that I can do?

We got to the site of 9-11 and it was particularly moving. There is a waterfall …beginning about waist high and going down into a deep hole that is the exact size of each tower. The names of all the victims who last their lives that day are etched in the marble wall that surrounds the waterfall. Security is very tight to get in there…just like the airports except I could leave my shoes on; belt, scarf, blazer, coats, etc. all had to come off and all pockets, purses, etc. had to be screened. There was a lot of chaos trying to rush people through security, long lines etc….but once we were able to enter the area of the towers, I observed something I have not yet seen here in NYC….very little noise! Conversations were few and almost at a whisper. There was a profound sense of peace and tranquility and a lot of reverence. It was refreshing and gave me time to reflect and absorb. Very moving to experience. I think from this day forward, I will be keenly aware of the blessing of my life… Big Lesson… that I’ve already learned and try to practice, but was reminded of today…. LIFE IS SHORT! Don’t take it for granted…don’t waste it…Don’t Sweat the small stuff…..We never know…just like those who were working that morning…just like those first responders….all of those that lost their lives….WE never know when our life will end. Make sure that those people in your world know how much you love them. Make sure you are doing what you can to enjoy each day…Make sure you are spending your time thinking of good things and not focusing on the bad. Be grateful for the things you have…the things you can do….the people in your world that make it wonderful…and live each day to the fullest. Don’t fall into the trap that almost ruined my walk…don’t let “old Theresa or Old YOU….tell you that you can’t do something…..let the NEW THERESA tell you, that YES YOU CAN! Yes, you can make things different for yourself…Yes, you can change your life…Yes, you can see a future….and if you already can….then give Thanks to God!”
As I was drinking my coffee this morning, I was reflecting on the precious gift of LIFE and I began to ponder….. “If I knew that today was my last day on earth….how would I choose to spend those 24 hours?” Usually we are not given an “advance warning” that our life is going to end. Sometimes, those with a terminal illness, or those who are advanced in years, may begin to think that their days are numbered and begin to plan accordingly, but for many, death is not something that we ‘schedule” ahead of time.  So….if I were told by an angel that I would die tomorrow……what “do I THINK I would do?  I can’t say for certain because I’ve not been in the situation but this is what I THINK I might do….in no particular order:
·         Plant flowers….lots and lots of them, especially perennials and spring bulbs so that long after I’m gone, the tulips and daffodils will spring forth from the earth each spring to remind those that see them of the Resurrection and that I’m not really “dead”
·         Make sure I’m right with God…and ready to meet my maker…but really, are we ever really “completely right with God….do we ever really feel ready to meet Him face to face?  Even if we truly believe that we have been given the gift of salvation….wouldn’t I still feel a bit of doubt?  Don’t know.  I’d likely go to Mass, but would I spend all day in Church or on my knees?  I don’t think so.  I think I’d be keenly aware of God’s presence and Grace all around me all day.
·         Make some calls to people I care about….but likely more time would be spent WRITING my feelings so that those words could be shared with ALL THOSE people who have blessed my life…all those who have contributed to the person I’ve become….all those who have shared love and friendship, support and encouragement, help and joy with me…. ALL those people, not just the few I’d be able to speak with.
·         I’d share a meal with my dearest friends/family members…perhaps not even worrying about calories….or cost of the food. Perhaps I’d eat on the “good dishes” with the “good silverware” and a “nice tablecloth”.  Would I eat ice-cream and dessert?  Not likely because that would only make me feel “icky” because I haven’t eaten it in so long.  Would I fuss about the food….not likely. Would I eat all the watermelon and honeydew I could?  Absolutely!
·         Would I worry about cleaning the house?  Not a chance. Who cares about the dishes in the sink or the cat hair on the couch? Who cares about the pile of laundry or the weeds in the garden? 
·         Would I get all my paperwork done? Or clean out the junk drawer….pay the bills….get rid of the newspapers?  Nope.  Would I watch the TV programs that I recorded earlier this week?  Nope, but I would blast some music and “dance like nobody’s watching….maybe even wearing that “party” dress that I’ve yet to have any place to wear it to!
·         Would I go to work?  I don’t think so. Even though I  truly enjoy my work and love what I’m doing, it is not the most important thing in my life, and it doesn’t ‘define” who I am.
·         Would I get on the scale?  No way! What does that number matter anyway?
·         I’d laugh…and love….and say Thank you….and celebrate…and…….savor every breath of air.
As I mentioned earlier…I really don’t KNOW what I’d do, but the lesson I will take from this is:  DO TODAY…and EVERY DAY….what I THINK I would do if I were to die tomorrow. Live TODAY like it was my last…because it could be! Does that mean…Not going to work, Not keeping up on the bills, Not cleaning the house…(occasionally), Not eating healthy or worrying about diet and exercise….NOPE. All of those things are important to be done so that each of my remaining days will be comfortable and healthy, but what it DOES mean is:  Don’t wait to use the good dishes…Don’t wait to tell those you love how much they mean…. Don’t wait to say Thank you, to dance and laugh, to get right with God, to breathe in life.   JUST DON’T WAIT…to do whatever it is you want/need to do. Today is a gift, Live it!