Another year, grief over time.

Melissa Pullis, of Hazlet, N.J., stands at the engraving for her husband Edward at the World Trade Center site in New York City during memorial ceremonies for the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2012. (Getty Images)

This morning I walked my daughter up the stairs to her preschool, and realized that she no longer needs help climbing those steps.  It feels like only a few months ago when I was holding her left arm tightly while she climbed each one with focus and effort.

Yet, it’s been three years.  Time seems to both drag and fly, doesn’t it?

As I packed up backpacks and tied shoes this morning I noticed my husband had ESPN on, and it was showing images of the towers falling.  Playing clips of teary eyed daddys and grief stricken mamas who had lost their athletic sons in the catastrophe of that fall.

My mind clicked to check the date, that’s right, it’s September 11.  Deep Breath,  Flashback to that day, watching the towers fall on my parents television and later delivering those tragic newspapers to the doors of hundreds of homes.

Each paper felt heavy in my hand, a piece of history and tragedy leaving its inky mark on my hands and my life.

I can’t believe 11 years have passed since that date, the one I’m sure my children and grandchildren will ask me about the same way I asked my parents about the challenger explosion and the day JFK was shot.

We talked a lot in the raw days that followed Sept 11, 2001 about all that we lost as a country, our sense of safety was gone and we realized that war would no longer be easy to identify or contain.

We grieved as a nation and I think that we still do, even though the years have healed our wounds into scars.

Sept 11 is a grief that we all share, in a way.

But eleven years later, this shared grief has been easy to put on a shelf and convert into a memory, a story.  Eleven years later Sept 11 is a fairly easy day for me to endure, there is sadness and remembering, but there is routine and normal life in spite of it.

But there are days on my calendar that aren’t easy to endure because for me the loss on those dates is personal, it marks another year without someone I love, someone who shaped me, gave me life.

The two year anniversary of my Mother’s death is coming up in just over a month and anytime I think about it I hyperventilate a little bit.  Two years seems like a unbearable gap between this moment and our last conversation.

I long to go back and save her, to intervene somehow.  But I can’t, and so I live in a world where train whistles chill me to the core.

This grief, October 13, is personal and scoffs at the thought of life going on as usual.

And it is this feeling that the mamas, daddys, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers and friends of the 3,000 lost in the twin towers feel today, right now.

I’m sure that for them, watching the towers fall on TV is a lot like a train whistle is to me.  Not just a piece of history or technology but the gut wrenching thing that brings them back to the moment of impact.  The moment they lost someone senselessly and permanently.

It’s the that they wish they could go back and change, to convince them not to go to work that day, not to respond to the call.

The strange thing about grief over time is that it feels like it flies by and drags on all at the same time.

We rail and shirk at the idea that another year separates us from those we love, and that there is no bargaining chip, no option B, nothing we can do about it.

So today as the thought of shared grief arises within you, may we prayers and dedicate our tears to those who can’t get off the couch today, who can’t watch the news, who can’t believe that another year has come between them and their dear one.


My iPhone ate my Patience


I was reading “Noah Builds a Boat” to Noelle just now as I settled her into bed.  In this storybook they highlighted how patient Noah was in his ark building endeavors.

As I shut the book and put it on the night stand I thanked this children’s book author for going the extra mile on the patience lesson.  I always need the patience reminder, especially in my parenting.

Then she got up for water and then to pee and then to pee again and then to tell me her bed was too big, I wanted to scream at her STAY THE HECK IN BED!  Patience lesson, how timely you were, Noah made it look so easy.

My thoughts are often: Could you just go to sleep quicker?  Pee faster?  Learn to pull up your pants with a little more hustle?  Come on, figure it out here!  

I would have been a terrible Noah, and don’t even get me started on what sort of Job I would have been.

Patience is my unicorn, it may be out there flitting all shimmery on the horizon, but it rarely makes an appearance in the real world.

Is it me or are we all getting worse at patience?  If we want to know who that actor is, we

I bet he’s got the patience of Job.  Everyone knows unicorns are very patient, probably. 

don’t wait for the credits, we just grab our phones and google it or consult IMDB.  Done.

Do you have a smart phone?  Try this:  Next time you’re waiting in your car in the bank line or a drive-thru just look around, think and wait.  Don’t get out your phone. It feels so weird, you immediately want it in your hand, we’ve become addicted to filling every crack.

We have left ourselves with so little blank space and I bet it’s killing our patience drive, and leaving God such little room to whisper to us, to nudge us toward himself or each other.

We want our food fast, our cash now and our results yesterday.  We aren’t bent to save, count or wait, we believe we can force a round peg into a square hole with the right amount of force.

So honestly, in this “now world” I struggle desperately to wait upon the Lord.

Also, the phrase “God’s timing” is rarely a comfort to me, it drives me nuts.  I don’t want his time, he’s gonna make me wait isn’t he?  I’d really much rather have things now.  I think.

I don’t want to wait for plans to flesh out or answers to come in time, but when I think back on my life, on what’s standing strong,  all that I truly cherish took work and time.

Kel and I had to wait to be together, struggle to figure each other out, yet each year is sweeter and stronger for our shared building.  My children each took 9 months to grow before I could hold them and smell their perfect little heads.  Yet I stand in awe of the gifts that they are every day.  And this writing business seems to flow easier with time… but yes, it’s requiring patience and time as well.

With all of this in the favor of patience why do we seem to loathe it?  Why are we so unwilling to submit to the seasons, to make peace with the years it will take to get to lovely places.

Isn’t the growing part of the blooming?  The journey is part of the destination?

Is this a new problem, this shortage of patience or is there are reason our great grandmother’s were needlepointing it on pillows?  Because patience truly is a virtue, is’t it?

The more I realize much I lack patience the more I want to get me some.  How can I get some of this patience, now? Ha.

That’s when it’s hit me, it’s just another wave that will erode at me, smooth me into someone who looks more like Jesus and less like the selfish inner child.  A little more Mother Theresa and a lot less Paris Hilton.

Perhaps the first step in gaining patience is making peace with the fact that it has a long learning curve, steeped in prayer and deep breathing exercises.

Pray and breathe and make peace with the time, the waiting, expect lovely vistas and profound growth as you wait upon Him.