I can't help but remember where I was 15 years ago on September 11, 2001. It was 8am, I had just dropped our three-year-old son at his new pre-school magnet school 30 minutes away from my home and office. Upon leaving, his pre-school teacher gave me a book, welcoming our family into the school community. I tucked Michele Pace Hofbauer's Couldn't We Make a Difference under my arm, drove down the thruway to my office, ready to start my professional day. I had not turned on the car radio.
We live close to New York City and the roads were clear, soon I was at work. Within moments my husband called telling me of the devastating news of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers and as he was relaying this a colleague walked into his office revealing the additional traumatic event of the Pentagon's attack. I heard his co-worker say the words through the telephone receiver before my husband had time to repeat them. What to do? We were devastated, scared, we didn't yet know the full scope of the violent attacks on our country.
Our son's pre-school was on the way home from my husband's office, we decided in an instant our son would be safely picked up by my husband. I had clients scheduled in my Creativity and Wellness practice and I decided to wait for them, to offer support as needed. What I chose to do next effected my experience of that day on a cellular level. Remembering the book presented to me when I left our son's pre-school I claimed a moment of reflection. Sitting in my cushioned, floral blue easy chair I started to read. As salty tears streamed down my face I felt an inner knowingness that we would be okay. The book healed me, it gave me the strength of hope to take the next steps toward safety and protection. It was the perfect balm at an unjust time.
I will quote from the book's introduction, "Couldn't We invites children of every nation, race and culture to join hands in overcoming difference. Its message is that of tolerance and acceptance, understanding and empathy, courage and hope. It suggests that children have a responsibility to themselves, to each other and to the earth. Beautifully illustrated and written in simple verse Couldn't We offers a vision of a bright future. It opens a small window into a world where everyone lives in peace and where every child has the power to make a difference."
Later that day, my husband, our son, and I walked to a local beach, seeking nature to stabilize us. Forgetting how close we live to NYC, I forgot we used to see the Twin Towers across the water from this beach. We smelled the smoke before we saw it. I wondered if there was a smokers convention nearby, I'd never smelled smoke at this beach before. Looking across Long Island Sound and seeing the smoldering remains of the Twin Towers explained the origin of what I was smelling.
As horrifying and surreal as the sight was I remembered the hopeful messages from the book. I recalled the peace I felt sitting in my easy chair in my office. That moment of redemption carved out of the stone of chaos and cruelty continued to comfort me. It buoyed and fortified me, helping me be more present with clients, friends, and family, as we navigated our shared new terrain.