Friday, September 11, 2009

My wish on this anniversary

On this day, September 11th, everyone can remember where they were eight years ago when the tragedies of 9-11 unfolded. I was working for a corporation as a web designer, sitting in my cubicle, when a co-worker one cube over sent me an email with a photo of the first plane going in to the twin tower.

I thought it was a joke, like one of those doctored photos you see flying around cyberspace. And I disregarded it. After that, everything's fuzzy. I think he came over and said something about the photo and I realized it wasn't fake, and panic began to set in. All of us entered a new state of being, one we'd never experienced before. I remember thinking we should all go home because no one could get any work done for trying to keep up with the news.

I did leave early. I was closing on my new home that day. My stepfather had built my house, and I remember meeting him at the closing attorney's office to sign the papers. We sat there, the two of us, in shock in the waiting room. I remember feeling that the transaction meant little since the world was ending.

Yes, it actually felt that way, didn't it?

It's been several years now, and I still remember how it felt to watch the second plane come in. To watch the horror, the terror.

There are no words.

But I also remember watching President Bush and New York Mayor Giuliani as they pulled the nation together afterward. We were searching for guidance, ready for heroes. We tried to put one foot in front of the other in the days and weeks to follow. I'll never forget what came next. We were all united in our sense of country and patriotism. We were all united. For the first time in my life, I felt that sense as people hung flags outside their homes, said God Bless America to one another freely.

It's been eight years since the tragedies of 9-11. I do not miss that feeling of the world ending. But I do miss what came after, that feeling that all of us are in this thing together, that we live in America, we are Americans, and we cherish our freedom and will fight for it.

My wish on this anniversary of 9-11 is that every American, no matter what side you might be on of whatever issue it is, is to take a break, shake the hand of your neighbor, remember that first and foremost, we are all Americans.

May God bless all of our men and women who are serving our nation in the armed forces, overseas and at home. Though our country is going through many changes, one thing stays the same:

We are blessed to live in America. Our heroes are never hard to find.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What Happens in Book Club...

Yesterday was a special day. It was my mother-in-law's birthday, and last night I was invited to speak with her neighborhood book club about A Hundred Years of Happiness. I must say, I was impressed with the discussions. I was comfortable with the people, the friendships, the adorable cat, Max, who sat propped in a chair in our circle. He thought he was no different than anyone else in our group, just a little furrier and a tad bit quieter.

There were two women there who could only stay a short while. One was visiting the other from Texas and had brought a copy of A Hundred Years of Happiness with her for the trip. She had no idea I was coming to the book club in the neighborhood last night until she saw her hostess had a copy of the same book. They came by for a while to meet me, and it was a thrill to know that people in Texas are reading my books and waiting for the next one to come out. It was more of an honor for me to meet her that the other way around. Pam, it was a pleasure. I hope you have a wonderful time in South Carolina and a safe trip back home.

I always feel honored when a book club chooses one of my books to discuss. (For those of you who don't realize, there are always book club questions on my website. You can print out and have at it.) I'm always amazed that people take the time to read the books I've written, how they inevitably touch someone in the group, how details of lives are shared, deepest intimacies about relationships, experiences in life.

I love every book club that I visit with, but last night was personal. I shared myself with this group of ladies and my mother-in-law. She got to hear my inner workings, and I'm sure she learned a thing or two. Not to mention, the book we were discussing was inspired my my stepfather's service in Vietnam forty years ago, so you can imagine the revelations going on. I'd like to tell you what all was said in that house last night, but I can't.
You see, as I got into the car at the end of the evening to take my mother-in-law home, I said, "Well, I guess you might have learned a few things in there. How about let's keep all that to ourselves?" And her reply was, very serious, "What happens in Book Club, stays in Book Club."
Well said, Judy.
What a blessing to have a group of friends who will read with you, share with you, and keep your secrets. And what a blessing to have a mother-in-law you adore.