Remembering 9/11

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My column today is about remembering.

We remember and grieve for family, friends, responders, those we knew, those we did not know – everyone who died on 9/11.

We remember and join with heartfelt sympathy all those who lost a loved one.

We remember and thank all of the surviving responders, many of whom have serious health problems as a result of their service.

We honor and we remember.




By sharing their creative talents, three of my dearest friends help us remember.

Deborah Zeigler is a career coach who works with older men and women who are motivated to discover new interests, explore new opportunities and develop the courage and confidence to pursue them. Writing poetry and her book, Starting Over, from which the following poem is taken, began as a way for Deb to cope with the death of her husband.


I miss you when. . .
I come home to dark,
Empty rooms,
Wanting to share my day.

I miss you when. . .
I’m stuck, confused, unsure
Which way to go
When your creative sparks
Would light my own.

I miss you when. . .
At day’s end, I go to bed
Longing for your familiar
Touch and sweet caress
To send me off to dream.

Or, when I wake at night
With troubling thoughts
And you’re not there
To talk to, to send me gently
Back to sleep.

Those touches, hugs, the soft
“I love you’s”
That warmed me through and through
Dear one, it’s not the same
Without you.

I am in charge,
I carry on,
My life is very rich and full,
But oh, my love,
I miss you so. 

— Deborah Zeigler




Anya Garcia is a flight attendant for American Airlines. Anya happened to not be flying on 9/11. If she had, she would have been assigned to AAL Flight 11, as she was doing the Boston to Los Angeles run at that time. AAL Flight 11 was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. Ten of the 92 victims on board that flight were Anya’s crew mates.


“Make it count.”

As they slowly close the door, I stare back at them, unwilling to break our connection reflected in their ethereal gaze. I back away from the crew van as it slowly rolls from the curb. I hear fragments of their laughter still: the familiar crew buzz as this time, their layover shuttle has no destination. No chance for a call home to kids or spouses, lovers and friends. No layover exercise along the water’s edge or snoop the big city. No lingering over Margaritas, chips and salsa as we crunch our way thru informal therapy.

They’re gone.

Our beloved crew of AAL Flight 11 has been gone for ten long years as children grow and life unfolds. Their loved ones have learned to live day after long day after long hour and minute with sorrow, now somehow integrated into daily life.

“Make it count”, they whisper as they slip inside my dreams.

Such is the challenge for those of us left behind on this weary planet. Have we each and together, beyond those sorrow-filled days, made meaning of their lives? Are you honoring them by fulfilling your potential each moment as if it were, for you too, your last?

It’s hard. Sometimes too hard. The weight of their sacrifice still brings me to my knees and I recommit to the promise made on September 11, 2001 as I forced myself to walk, not run, across a school parking lot to collect my distraught daughter.

“Make it count”, they flutter all around me each time I gather my children to my chest.

“Make it count,” they soothe as I crawl and claw my way out of the recurring nightmare.

Ten years later this world is heavy with angst, fear and despair. Of our people who were murdered that day one wonders what their reaction would be to the post-9/11 decade. In my mind’s eye I see them in that crew van, discussing, debating and ultimately advocating for resolution to this spreading global conflict.

It’s beyond ironic, you know. Because of them, I’m nicer, a better person. Because of them, I reach ever more deeply in my heart to find compassion for the angry, the frustrated, the lonely; for people just like you and me. For it seems to me that if they had the gift of time on this imperfect earth, they too would reach for the ultimate power of human connection. Their mantra sustains me as I breathe in each moment, once for my precious life, twice for all of them.

“Make it count.”

— Anya Garcia, 9/11/11




Mary O’Connor, author of Dreams of a Wingless Child, writes and teaches poetry as a way of recognizing and dealing with many of the ups and downs of life. Her new book, Life Is Full of Sweet Spots, will be available in early 2013.


In memoriam

How is it that a blossom
so delicate, so softly pink
and flushed, can be
counted on to fill
some mortal void
with comfort as sure
as the heavens are filled
with stars, offering
its fragrant petals, pure
and without blemish,
pouring consolation
from the open cup
of its huge beauty.

Did you see the sunlight tremble
as it touched that pale and spent petal—
fallen just now to the ground?

— Mary O’Connor




Ask Dr. Gramma Karen is published every other Tuesday.
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