Grief And Great­ness

Escalon Times - - NEWS - Teresa Hammond is a staff re­porter for The Oak­dale Leader, The River­bank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at tham­mond@oak­dale­ or by call­ing 847-3021. Teresa Hammond

Two sim­ple words: Never For­get. Ear­lier this week th­ese two words helped me see grief isn’t as sim­ple as some might think.

The word “grief” in and of it­self con­jures a sim­ple def­i­ni­tion of deal­ing with loss, most com­monly from the pass­ing of a loved one. The past few years I’ve come to learn it can also be from loss of con­nec­tion to a loved one who’s cho­sen to be ab­sent from your life, just as well. That one stings a bit dif­fer­ent.

The grief I found my­self strug­gling with Mon­day was one I’m still try­ing to com­pre­hend. Six­teen years later, I’m still griev­ing from 9/11.

The irony is that the op­ti­mist in me, made a post to so­cial me­dia the night be­fore about the spirit of our coun­try. The beauty of hu­man­ity and the strength we have wit­nessed through the most re­cent hur­ri­canes. We as a na­tion are re­silient and some­times I think we for­get that. Nat­u­ral dis­as­ter al­ways seems to prove as a great re­minder.

The me­dia af­ter all has done a phe­nom­e­nal job high­light­ing our di­vi­sion, most es­pe­cially fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump. In case you missed it, we’re all an­gry with one an­other and as a re­sult have be­come self­ish is­lands.

Unity still ex­ists in this coun­try. In many in­stances it ap­pears dif­fer­ent than what we have lived or seen in our most re­cent past. Some which is present is in­deed hate filled, but please don’t tell that to those res­cued from our re­cent hur­ri­canes. Yes, to­tal strangers wan­dered city streets in their pri­vate boats look­ing for peo­ple in need. Any peo­ple, all peo­ple were wel­come to safety by th­ese self­less in­di­vid­u­als.

This could eas­ily take on a po­lit­i­cal tone if I chose to tip the an­gle in that di­rec­tion. On this day, how­ever, it truly is about the grief post 9/11, six­teen years ago.

Mon­day I came to re­al­ize it is a grief I may live with the rest of my life. My heart still hurts and my stom­ach still flips as I think of all that has changed as a re­sult of that day. The hard­en­ing of many souls, the lives lost from ha­tred, the vi­o­la­tion of this life I love known as Amer­ica.

That’s a bit of an odd way to put it, I re­al­ized that on Mon­day, but “Amer­ica” is my home. It is the land and the coun­try that so many whom I love have fought to serve via US mil­i­tary or First Re­spon­der. On 9/11 … 2001 a group of hate­ful cow­ards hurt my Amer­ica. That’s what I grieve.

Oh sure, there was a lot of good, amaz­ing­ness ac­tu­ally which hap­pened that day and for weeks, even months fol­low­ing. It’s not much dif­fer­ent than when a fam­ily mem­ber passes, peo­ple rally to sup­port you. They make sure you have all you need. Friends make meals, aid with what­ever you need and show their love. We as a coun­try lived that on Septem­ber 11, 2001, yet the grief still ex­ists.

There is truly so much that I grieve that it’s hard to wrap my mind around it com­pletely. I grieve the in­no­cence and feel­ing of safety we all once knew. I grieve the days when my friends of Mid­dle East­ern de­cent weren’t com­monly pulled from the line at air­ports, but that’s not “pro­fil­ing” that’s “be­ing safe.” I grieve the ac­cep­tance of my non-Chris­tian friends who once used to peace­fully prac­tice their re­spec­tive re­li­gion and now must ed­u­cate so many on why they are not ter­ror­ists. I grieve par­ents be­ing able to take their chil­dren on plane trips with­out all the com­mo­tion. I grieve the peace of mind I once had in so many ways. I grieve the coun­try we once were and the ig­no­rance we lived with prior to the at­tacks. My heart hurts. That’s what grief is and just like the widow or wid­ower told, “It will get eas­ier,” to­day, I rec­og­nize it won’t. It will al­ways hurt, but life will go on. I will al­ways know how it was ‘once.’

Telling my chil­dren sto­ries and in­sert­ing, be­fore 9/11, is just like telling a story of some­one who has passed and rec­og­niz­ing “when Gigi was here.”

For the op­ti­mist, the per­son who sees and speaks of all the good which came from that day – you are right. Yet, just like re­mem­ber­ing a loved one for all they gave, the won­ders of what they of­fered to those who knew them, we pay trib­ute to their mem­ory – yet we still grieve.

So, as I pen this piece 16 years later on 9/11/2017 I rec­og­nize it is a grief I will likely live the rest of my life with and that’s okay. Each year, I will con­tinue to feel grate­ful for the self­less who put them­selves first. I will ap­pre­ci­ate all that this coun­try has to of­fer and what con­tin­ues to make it great. And yes ... I will ac­cept that grief is just part of life.

God bless Amer­ica. I will never for­get.

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