It was sixteen years ago today; that terrible day that “will live in infamy” for our generation. There’s no doubt it was one of the darkest days most of us have ever experienced during our lifetime. And yet, on reflection, some good things did come from it — for me personally, and for us as a society.
I was one of the producers working on a big Michael Jackson two-night anniversary concert that he did the couple of nights prior to 9-11 at Madison Square Garden in NYC. And I was slated to fly out of Newark to SFO on 9-11 (on Flight 93). About a week before I was to fly out to NYC, I had a very strong intuition that I should not go to NYC for this event; I couldn’t shake it and it was so dominant that I wound up cancelling my trip. When I watched in horror what happened that morning (in real time) with millions of others, I realized how close I came to being one of the victims that day — instead I was a survivor, and I’ll always be grateful for that on every anniversary.
Secondly, my beloved cat Milo — more like my child in so many ways — was born just about on that date and so I celebrate it as his birthday each year. Being diagnosed with terminal cancer 5 years ago, neither of us has accepted that fate for him; he’s still with me, still doing pretty well considering, and we celebrated him turning sixteen today. Another reason I’m personally grateful on this day.
For us as a society, there was no social media on 9-11. And while it’s beyond tragic that so many souls were lost senselessly, those who survived (including the many first responders) pulled together to support not just those who had lost loved ones — but we ALL came together truly to represent a united front as Americans. Our humanity and our support and compassion for each other was demonstrated time and again so many times in the aftermath of the events that day; it was inspiring.
When tragedy strikes, look for the silver lining, the gifts and the moments of grace that rise in response; they’re always there if you look for them. And in our darkest days, gratitude allows us to prevail, rise above tough situations, and demonstrate our humanity, our resilience, and our faith.