10 Years Ago…

by Dani Fake Webb on September 12, 2011

Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.

Many things impacted and moved me as I remembered that awful day. One was Patti Digh’s powerful and beautiful post. One was CBS’s show, 9/11 Ten Years Later with Robert DiNiro. And one was an article by Michele Woodward.

It was Michele’s article that moved me to write this post.

My 9/11 Story

On the morning of September 11, I was sitting aboard a Boeing 767 jet. My destination that morning was Boston, with a stopover in Atlanta. As we were preparing to land in Atlanta, I became aware of the fact that we were circling, circling, circling. “Why are we circling the airport?,” I wondered. “Why is the pilot not talking to us?,” my fearful flyer self said, alarmed.

The circling went on for so long I had to fight panic (anyone who knows me knows I am not a good flyer). I was traveling with two colleagues, one of whom tried to distract me by engaging me in a conversation in Spanish. As I spoke broken Spanish with him, I knew something must be wrong for so much circling to be occurring. Weather? Deer on the runway? Landing gear that is stuck that they don’t want to tell us about?

No. It was worse. Much, much worse.

In hindsight I now know we were circling because we were caught in an aerial traffic jam resulting from the FAA’s grounding of all aircraft in US airspace. While I had been flying at 35,000 feet, two planes had crashed into buildings and all hell had broken loose.

I spent the next four days in Atlanta, amazed at the silence of no aircraft.
In these days, I booked countless flights home to Denver, all canceled.
Finally, on Friday, September 14, I was on one of the first flights to fly when airspace was opened.

I was terrified.

But my drive to get home to my community was more powerful than my fear.

One of the best moments of my life was arriving in Denver. I came up the escalator to find my on-again-off-again-love-him-hate-him-drives-me-crazy-adore-him-annoying-addictive-lovely friend waiting for me. We hugged, feeling the intensity of all that had occurred in America that week. It wasn’t a lover’s hug. It was an embrace of humanity, connection, and home.

10 years ago

Ten years ago my life was very, very different than it is now.
Ten years ago I was single. Today I am married.
Ten years ago was deeply into the church. Today I struggle with spiritual matters.
Ten years ago I had a best friend. Today she won’t speak to me.
Ten years ago I had an amazing community. Today I struggle to find connection.
Ten years ago I thought I had life figured out. Today I am in the reality of mid-life.
Ten years ago, I lived in a safe bubble. Today I am living the result of having taken the red pill.
Ten years ago, I never exercised. Today I am training for a marathon.
Ten years ago, I existed. Today, I live.

As I write that list, I am reminded that my past ten years have been hard. And I am keenly aware that life today is not what I want it to be.


I am living and striving to create the life I am meant to live. I have that privilege.

Karen Ann Martin of American Flight 11 does not. Sandra W. Bradshaw of United Flight 93 does not. SGT Tamara C. Thurman, working at the Pentagon, does not. All of these people, do not. None of the people killed on that day have a chance to embrace life, in all its pain and glory.

In her article, Michele recounts her life then and now. She concludes by writing, “On September 11, 2001, three thousand people lost their lives. They had no chance to experience the last ten years of living. But we did. We still do. Don’t you think we owe it to them to embrace whatever it is that’s coming? And embrace it with love? With kindness? With creativity?”

Yes, Michele. Yes we do. Life is full of sorrow and pain, beauty and joy, love and hope. And we get to live it all.

The question is: Will you?

Until next time, may you love your life today.

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