15 years is a lot of life to live.
In 15 years, I've had so many experiences and adventures. I got engaged, planned a wedding, got married, had a honeymoon. I had two babies who have grown into children. I've grown in my career and as a person.
I thought about this as I remembered a student I had in kindergarten years ago, a little boy who lost his mother in 9/11, when he was only two years old. Did she kiss him in his crib that morning, as she rushed out the door to make the train? Did she get the chance to hold him and spend time before walking out of her home, never knowing it would be the last time? She never got the chance to have these 15 years. The two year old she said goodbye to is now a high school senior. I ache thinking of all the time she never got.
9/11 has hit me harder this year than ever before. In 2001, I was barley out of adolescence myself- a 22 year old, just beginning my teaching career. 15 years older, I have a new perspective on that day. I feel the loss of all those lives so much more deeply than I did then. I feel the pain of parents losing their children;I feel the pain of spouses talking on the phone for the last time, knowing death was imminent; I feel the pain of the parents knowing they are not getting out of there alive, leaving their children behind.
So many stories. So much heartache.
9/11 reminds me we are all on borrowed time. That tragedy can strike on an unsuspecting, bright-sky Tuesday morning that still felt like summer. That time can feel endless and infinite, but it's not. Not at all. That I must be grateful for the 15 years I've been given that others were not-who knows why? That tomorrow is never promised.
And so, on 9/11/16, I took my children and my nephew to the playground. I felt the sunshine on my face and watched as the breeze rustled my daughter's golden hair. In her "American flag dress" as she likes to call it, she twirled around the playground, without a care.
And I counted my blessings and mourned for all those who never got the chance to live these last 15 years.