A Little More Serious · Adventures in Imperfection

George Strait, Tim McGraw, and Remembering 9/11

Note: I wrote the original post Sept 11, 2015. With some revisions, I’m sharing a message that still resonates today. Thank you for taking the time to read. xo

*****

George Strait was my first country singer crush. In college, my roommate and I sang Amarillo by Morning to each other while we Aqua-netted our hair to heavens. Mr. Strait was handsome, humble, and very helpful in snagging me a husband–All My Ex’s is the perfect song for Two-Stepping and I needed a partner!

George Strait, Tim McGraw, and Remembering 9/11
The King

These days, I never listen to him.

Hearing his voice reminds me of younger, more carefree days. It’s easier to change the channel than to note I don’t look as hot in Rocky Mountain jeans and red Ropers like back in the day.

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But, this past week, I left the dial alone as his voice crooned Run and filled the rental car with classic George smoothness. The sun was setting in the Appalachian Mountains and the song, coupled with the scenery, made my heart flutter.  The I-40 landscape hinted at Autumn and revealed itself like the bend in the curve around the mountain–you knew it was there, but not quite in view. My soul was full of gratitude for the gorgeous day, and the mind monkeys were quiet.

Then, Tim McGraw started to sing Live Like You’re Dying and my fingers cranked the knob to find a less-heavy tune.

Slim Tim is a true favorite, but his song marks a sad time–the year we lost Dion. Suddenly, I realized that the very last time I’d been on this highway between Nashville and Bristol was fourteen years ago – with my husband and Dion.

A joyful time…

  • three years before Dion was diagnosed with cancer
  • before a storm ransacked our home with flood waters
  • before the Twin Towers fell and broke our American hearts

Since then, I have used three major benchmarks to note passage of time:

~~before Dion died
~~during the flood
~~after 9/11

Like my homage to George and memories, I turned back to Tim and let him sing. Reminiscent tears filled my eyes and then I did the math. We had taken the Tennessee road trip only three weeks before 9/11. We showed up at the airport thirty minutes before boarding–loaded down with liquids and gels of all weights and sizes. As the song came to the last refrain, my mind ticked off all of the ways life had changed, and I ached for my kids to know a non-post 9/11 world.

9/11 thrust us into a collective “never enough” and it feels like we’re still trying to find our way out. It would be easier if the answer was more money, more accomplishments, more power, more perfection, more security, more “better than” – but I don’t think that’s working on an individual or cultural level.

Healing scarcity and fear at a cultural level requires exactly what it takes for an individual or family: Connection. It’s the willingness to both offer help and ask for help. It’s about finding the courage to say, “Can you stand by me?” and “Can I stand with you?” Healing requires the courage to be vulnerable. This is the irony. This is the struggle.

~~Brene’ Brown*

I never felt like the 9/11 story belonged to me until I read Brene’s words a few years ago. I didn’t know any families, first responders, or victims. I couldn’t grasp what had happened, and the only thing I wanted to do was shut off the TV, huddle with my family under big blanket forts, and watch Disney movies.

As a punishment for living (survivor’s guilt), I memorized faces and stories. Like millions of others, I tried to work that week, but spent most of the time pissed off at people who said we needed to move on. A year later, with others in a hospital chapel during a moment of silence, a mouthy sales rep spouted off, “get over it already” and I let him have it.

I would never get over it.

I’ll forever remember sitting in my car and being on the phone with Scott when the first tower fell. How my mom called me and how it sucks that my brother’s birthday falls on September 11. How I wanted to grab Tanna out of school, retrieve Dane from Grandma Terry’s, and hide at home. I recall standing in our back yard that beautiful afternoon and looking up–feeling the eerie quiet of a sky devoid of contrails and air traffic. I won’t forget the stories, the piles of rubble, and the all-out-in-the-trenches prayers.

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Via

Years later, I finally had the opportunity to go to New York. While my co-workers went to happier places like Broadway and Central Park, I snagged a friend, and we visited Ground Zero. I knew it’d be tough, but the sheer emotion of the place was even more overwhelming than I could have imagined. At that time, the cavern of the parking garage remained. There were makeshift memorials everywhere, marking the pain and sadness rising from the cracks in the sidewalk. I cried for the two hours we were there.

And it felt good.

Since that visit to Ground Zero, I have tried to see 9/11 in a different light and find the positives buried in our rubble-filled brains. What if we honored the living and dead by remembering a simpler life before our collective national trauma paralyzed us?

Sixteen years ago, we weren’t chained to our cell phones, poised for an emergency, or creating images of a perfect life on social media. In this culture of scarcity and the fear of being average, can’t we let our wholehearted lives be our legacy? Imagine if we honored our post 9/11 heroes by:

  • Forgiving others, even when forgetting is impossible
  • Imagine that people are doing the very best they can*
  • Acknowledge that WE are doing the best we can
  • Understanding that people leave, die, or move on and that it has nothing to do with our personal worthiness
  • Capturing the moment, being present, and channeling a brave heart in our everyday interactions.
George Strait, Tim McGraw, and Remembering 9/11
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If you are someone who was affected directly by 9/11, I am so sorry for your loss. If you are one of the many brave men and women who helped others on that day, or went to war later–thank you for your service and I hope your healing strengthens with each year.

My heart is not as heavy as it sounds, but I’m learning that it’s okay to roll with these tough emotions. It’s courageous to honor your memories, and look forward to the future with a brave, whole heart.

I’d be honored if you shared your experiences and memories from 9/11/2001 below. Tell us where you were, who you were with, and what you can do to promote national and international healing. No biggie, right?

And please, don’t turn that dial.

*****

Helloooo to all of my new friends and readers. Your kindness and support in reading my last post on Wishes left me speechless and grateful. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here.

30 thoughts on “George Strait, Tim McGraw, and Remembering 9/11

  1. I still remember the utter horror of that morning, watching live as the towers fell and just feeling numb. How could this happen in our country? I remember the eerie silence of no planes in the air for the week after. We lived right under a section in Vegas where there were always at least six planes visible in the air coming in for landing at McCarran 24 hours a day. Not seeing one or hearing their engine sounds made it almost feel haunted. But my favorite memory was the National Day of Prayer the president called for after the tragedy, when I felt bonded with all my fellowmen because we were all in our churches, synagogues, or mosques praying for our country at the same time. I felt a humility that we had been lacking as a nation. And I pray we can get that back again on our own without having to be forced to be humbled as 9-11 made us. When we are proud, haughty, boastful, bulllying as a people, God will not be with us. If 9-11 taught me anything, it is that I want God to be with our country. Without Him, we are nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful tribute post. I can remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. We’d recently moved to Ohio so hadn’t started our day jobs yet. We were at home, doing odds and ends after breakfast. I had Regis and Kelly on in the background, looked up, and watched in horror as they cut away from the show and showed a plane going through the towers. I was so stunned I called my husband in. He thought I meant a helicopter or some other small plane had crashed into the towers. When he came in the room, he stood there as stunned as me.

    Like you, I had a hard time getting back to things “as normal.” I didn’t know anyone personally affected, but we were all affected as a nation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it crazy the details you remember? I was a new pharma rep with new boss. We drove to a nearby town without the radio on because he was having me “practice” my presentation.
      We walked into a clinic of stunned practitioners – we spent the rest of the day in multiple doctors’ offices – consoling each other as best we could.
      Thank you for sharing, Carrie ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember the pressure to go to work and be “normal” when nothing felt normal. If I had it to do over again, I would’ve taken the time I needed to be present in the moment instead of burying how I felt until the evening news. Beautiful tribute, as much today as when you first posted it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember that, too. I had a new job and didn’t feel right not working. In the evenings we sat on the floor, watched the news and learned about the people who died. Sending you virtual hugs ❤️

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    1. Hoping to be more heart-filling moving forward. Was just telling someone this morning that I’m done mourning various things and am ready to write with a more positive and grateful voice.
      I always love seeing you here, Claudia ❤️

      Like

  4. It was the one event that changed us all Michelle, right around the world, never to be the same again. It was a shock, a culture shock, and it was something that made us go through many emotions, look within and without to try to make sense of who we are and why we are here.
    But reaching this point and remembering that loss, a hollow where life should be, encourages us to reach out and ‘touch’ others, and realise that the love that is in our lives is now more important in our journey…and for that at least, a blessing for us all ❤
    Thank you for sharing kind lady, a remembrance of what was before, and of what we now have become because of it ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember being at work, on the general aviation side of eppley airfield in Omaha. One of the mechanics came through my area and asked if I had the radio on. No why, a plane crashed into one of the twin towers. Turning on the radio we were glued to the radio and the news. All day, the guys worked on the airline planes they knew some of the crews. As the planes came in and landed and parked it became very eerie. An airport with no traffic and planes on the ground parked where they never were. President Bush flew into offutt that day. The only air traffic we saw was air force one and its decoys. Working in an industry that was used to harm our own people hurts. Who can you trust? Going to work to push through and support the people who needed it was hard, you didn’t know what to do with time but track the news and try to keep some semblance of normal.
    We remember those lost and those impacted by the lost but as a country we all suffer the loss. My heart aches for the kids my own included that don’t know the simpler less security time of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Phoebe! What a story. I’ve been to Ouffut several times – I can’t even imagine how surreal that must have been for you.
      I so appreciate you sharing your story and know that you are doing the best you can to show your kiddos the better side of humanity. Thank you for being here ❤️

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  6. I was serving at the time in the air force. We had been forewarned ofnan exercise that might happen. Got the call early in the morning to report in and since we had oirbready bags all set, most of us just grabbed our gear and went in. It wasn’t until the last of us showed and had absentmindedly turned on the tv while she was getting ready that anyone k re what was going on. As she came into the hangar she asked if we knew what was happening. No one dud. After that we all went into our break room and watched the news footage. Nothing has ever been as so sobering. We were all awake at once where moments before there was still groggy eyes and dull senses. From there the whole base was on alert and the next few weeks are a blur with how busy it was. During that time my youngest daughter was born, o my three days after. There is so much in the way of mixed emotions, it is impossible to forget.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow – what an amazing story. Thank you so much for your service – I am truly honored that you took the time to read and share. I can’t even imagine being in the thick of it – sounds like you handled it with grace and focus. Thank goodness we have people like you in horrible situations like that.
      Hopping over to read your blog – sounds like a fellow book worm 🙂

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  7. Good morning sweets. I can’t believe it has already been another 2 years since you posted this. I remember reading it and I appreciate the updates to it. 9/11 hit close to home for us and I will not go into here but suffice it to say, it is one of those memories “Remember where you were when you heard….?” Like the JFK and MLK assassinations for others, it is our generations “remember” moments that also changed this world. My heart has been heavy with all the latest disasters which again.. hit close to home since we live in TX and I have friends and family in FL. Also remember that Ned Hickson is a fireman in OR. Some days it feels unfair to be so blessed and I suppose it is “survivor’s guilt” but my empathy scale is off the charts and I am having a hard time keeping my mind on things like school. I hope you are well and having a good week! 😚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We are all well. I have finally heard from all cooncerned and while there is some property damage, all is well otherwise. Empathy is definitely a curse sometimes. I pick up on a person’s energy very easily sometimes. They may have a smile on their face but dying inside. I almost feel like crying with them. I get teary and hubby will ask what is wrong..if I say I don’t know, he knows it is usually someone else near me. Some people wear their masks really well.. but they rarely fool me 😔

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You and I are the same. I’m sure you remember times before you realized you were an empath. How disconcerting to not know why you felt the way you felt. Large crowds and teleconferences can really do me in – so much emotional energy….
        Glad you heard from all of your hurricane friends ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It doesn’t feel like sixteen years. I was with some friends and we got into this amazing conversation about where we were. The group ran the spectrum in terms of age and experiences, but the memories all shared a similar theme. Disbelief, anger and a rolling grief which prevailed over the days and months that followed.

    Peace and love and better days to you Mama

    Liked by 1 person

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