Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known. Can’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow’s much too long. “Today”, by Smashing Pumpkins
I open my eyes every morning, amazed at the newness of it all. So fresh and clean, pregnant with potential – the world is mine to do with what I will. Today is no different.
I could choose to focus on petty disappointments, not to see the beauty I’m wrapped up in. That seems wasteful abuse of abundant gifts, however, so I opt out of disappointment.
I woke a full hour-point-five before I intended to. I tried to go back to sleep, but the house had already begun to stir: the Missus home from work armed with breakfast and two kinds of coffee, sat at my side and regaled me with her night. Just as she informed me that the kids were trying to sleep in, but JJ was feeling sick and “hot-and-cold” again, who should come slumping into our room looking for snuggles but JJ herself? Of course we obliged. How can I say no to cuddling my girls first thing? A short while later, Missus and I went outside. The crisp morning air, smelling of fresh earth and newness, did more for me than those two cups of coffee ever could. Missus stretched out her arm gesturing across the yard to our left at a cute baby cardinal. A cute, round, hoppy baby cardinal that I nearly missed because I had made a discovery of my own: a hummingbird. And where there is one….
One of the most fabulous things about hummingbirds and cardinals alike: they’re creatures of habit. Year after year, they come back to the same place, the fly the same path. They’re good neighbors. I like to think they remember all the kindnesses we do for them, and that’s why they stick around.
Both birds also hold a special piece of my heart. My late grandfather was fond of birds in general, and especially cardinals and hummingbirds. Cardinals remind me of Papa, but hummingbirds – there are times when I feel they must be his messengers. A hummingbird kissed my daughter when she was 4 months old. Those things don’t just happen.
I think its important to remember people who’ve been special to us at every opportunity. I think when we carry on with our lives passionately – as though we live for them, also – and put to use the lessons they’ve taught us, we pay the ultimate tribute. When we tell their stories and speak their names every day, we honor their memories.
I think when we set aside a special day for remembering those who’ve passed, especially in tragic events such as 9/11, we run the risk of being lazy. We will never forget – one day of the year. We also take the chance that our once-positive intent to honor and remember will get lost in the tumult of everyone else’s honoring and remembering. We cry longer and louder, we set up bigger and flashier events, we turn to political discussions and arguments – and we forget the people.
Ten years ago today, I couldn’t stop thinking about the people. I walked into my classroom, and my coworker asked if I had heard. He gestured to the television in time for me to see the second crash happen. I spent the day and night wondering how much pain a soul has to be in to hijack and crash a jet, what the terror must have been like for the passengers on those flights, how much confusion and fear must have been felt in those towers. And the children. The children there, the ones who’d lost family, and the ones in my classroom. How could anybody wver explain to them what was happening?
Now I have my own kids, and I still haven’t figured it out. How do you tell kids that scary things like that happen, but monsters aren’t really real?
I am all for remembering and honoring, and I intend to do just that today – same as every day. I will leave the sackcloth and ashes to my ancestors, because today is the greatest day, and tomorrow is much too long. I have a hummingbird garden to put in, and a sick girl to cuddle.
I will live my life for those who can’t.