Living through the seasons of grief.
Remembering 911 is very different for me this year. Just a couple of months ago I became friends with Ellen and Shannon who have allowed God to bring beauty from the ashes of the Twin Tower collapse. Ellen’s son, who was also Shannon’s father, was at work in the towers when the world forever changed. He was not among the few who escaped alive. The lives of his family have survived the unmentionable pain of his death. They also share an internal time clock of remembering with 2753 other families.
Becoming personally acquainted with these two remarkable women was a delight. Shannon and her grandmother, Ellen, flew to Texas from New York to volunteer at Camp Agape, a bereavement camp for kids.
Shannon spent the weekend as a buddy with a camper whose father had passed away two years ago. Her attentiveness and humor allowed her little buddy to explore heart healing activities that would stay with the child for her life time. During one activity, Shannon shared her personal experience of adjusting to her father’s death. The six little girls and their adult buddies were given a peek into history while listening to Shannon talk about her loss from the 911 attack and God’s healing.
I spent many meals in conversation with Ellen throughout that weekend. Her insights, humor, candor, and wisdom were remarkable. Beyond these magnetic attractions, I discovered Ellen is a woman of God. She has handled multiple losses and finds purpose in supporting her family while serving others and her church. Far from her comfort level, Ellen volunteered to teach a drawing class to the campers. It was an activity demonstrating that we can accomplish really hard things when we break it down to “one small dash at a time.” I figured that’s how she processed the death of her son, one small dash at a time. What a blessing to watch her in action!
What’s different for me this year on 911? For the first time, I personally know two very dear women, one a teenager and one experienced with many years. They are not a story from the media; I know them. They touched my life with their goodness. As I watched video footage today of 911, I experienced a deeper tug on my aching heart, for somewhere in one of those towers, Shannon’s father and Ellen’s son died. I feel for their loss. I hurt for them and wonder how they remember this day. I wonder what rituals they have found help them remember the special man they each love with all their hearts.
You may or may not know someone associated with the deaths of 911. But I guess you know someone who has entered the world of loss that is changing their lives forever. Would you take a moment to reach out to that person? Let them know you care and you are interested in how they are adjusting to their loss. If they need some guidance, you might want to give them my book, Comfort for the Day. It combines the gentle wisdom of God’s word with healthy emotional tools so that they can find comfort and hope to heal. There is profound beauty in what God raises from our ashes of mourning and loss. Ellen and Shannon are witnesses to that.