10 Years ago I had begun my second stint in college after having spent two years traveling the country as a “roadie.” In May 2001 I had attended my first Regional EMMY ceremony for my first EMMY nomination. My family was starting to rebuild and reconnect after a tumultuous 90’s. My Dad was finally feeling “normal” again after open heart surgery he’d had in 1999.
In many way I felt like my life had just found it’s stride. I had found purpose. I had balance coming into my personal life. I was hopeful. My optimism for my future was at an all time high.
Then, the morning of 9.11.01 my sister Theresa woke me with the words, “Wake up! I think we are being attacked!”
In that instant my world changed forever. In ways I never could have predicted. Some of them a direct result of 9/11. Some of them just the unfortunate turn of events that every life experiences. But in many ways I can say that 9.11 was the death of that new found optimism I had found in 2000 and early 2001.
Watching those towers burn and then fall was heart crushing for me. I could not stop my tears. I could not stop the anger that overwhelmed me. Or the love.
I enlisted after 9.11. Some people don’t know that. I was eager to join the military and I hoped greatly that I would be able to serve in the intelligence community after 9.11. It seemed to me that the best thing I could do was turn my mind into a weapon and become a part of the system that would protect us from this sort of thing ever happening again. Unfortunately, as much as my desire was there, the military wouldn’t have me. I was too heavy and the rules that had been placed on new recruits were tightened in previous years to help reduce the size of the military. These rules weren’t eased until several years later. By then I was committed to new things and trying to find my own way of healing the world. But to this day I am still sadly disappointed that I was not able to put on the uniform of my country and serve.
Over the next several years my family continued to grow closer. Possibly as a result of our new emotional state after 9.11. Perhaps that is one good thing for us that came of the tragedy. Laura and Adam were married and began their family. Eventually Theresa found love in Bryan and they too have married and begun their family. So all has not been tragedy in the following years. But 9.11 was the beginning of many tragic events in my life over the following 10 years.
We lost my Uncle Bob (2004), my Grandma Dawson (2006), my Father (2007), my Grandma Fronteras (2008 with her body finally identified 11 months later in 2009), my Uncle Francis (2010) and my dear friend Emily (2011). Both my Uncles died of heart failures as did my Father. My Grandma Dawson died after several strokes. My Grandma Fronteras died in the ferry boat that overturned in a monsoon in the Philippines. She was one of 800 souls lost. And my friend Emily was murdered along with her father by her ex-husband. Tragedy after tragedy in what felt like year after year. It was a brutal period of my life. In many ways I feel as though I spent nearly all of the 00’s grieving over one event or person continuously. It’s been heavy on me.
Perhaps that’s why I’m discovering so much grey hair now?
On this the 10th anniversary of 9.11. Of the time I feel like my life took a dramatic turn towards disappointment after disappointment I want to make a pact with myself.
I am pursuing optimism. I refuse to fall into despair. I am going to pursue happiness. I feel like the decision to start sailing this year was not a coincidence. I have found so much joy, so much peace… so much in myself, that I thought I’d lost while I’ve been out there on the water. It’s not by chance that 2011 is when I decided to pursue my dreams by finding new ones to pursue.
I feel like 2011 is a year of rebirth for me. Of renewed optimism. I know that life will continue to throw me challenges. But I am going to face them with a new outlook. I will not allow myself to wander through my life with a zombie like look in my eyes. I will not let the down sides of life dictate how I live. My happiness, my future… it’s all in my hands to control. And I will push forward on pursuing my happiness and my success.
That’s the best I can do. So I’m going to give it my best.