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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9.11 The Aftermath of Compassion

Everyone remembers the shock of the world on September 11th. Where they were when the planes hit. The horror. The devastation. The glass. The smoke. The tears. Who they called to make sure they were okay. Who they weren't able to get a hold of. The bodies found. The bodies lost. The feeling of time standing still and forgetting to exhale.

I worked at The Washington Post and I have always felt that I was supposed to be there that day on the 16th floor at the interior of the nation's capital. I watched the smoke pour out onto the sky from the Pentagon. Rumors and tragic updates flew in and out like the waves of the ocean. The news couldn't be reported fast enough. When I left that day and went outside, the normally gridlocked streets were empty. DC was a ghost town. It felt like a deserted movie set. Eerily quiet. That is the point that I cried.

We remember the feel of that day. The places we listened to the news, the panic, loss and empathy. We remember the stories. The questions. The anger. The widows. And absolutely the heroes.

What we sometimes may forget is the aftermath of compassion. A nation that was shattered and found a way to see each other in a new light. A nation reunited. People called one another just to hear their voice. People called because time felt more fragile and more sacred. People cared. And people forgave. Strangers gave each other tissues on the street and told each other how deeply sorry they were. Acquaintances embraced one another. Parents held their children tighter. People helped in any way they possibly could. People listened with patience. People let go of what didn't matter and clutched closer to what did. We were one another's rocks. Kindness prevailed. Gentleness was savored. Love reigned.

From one of the most tragic of days came the most gracious humanity. A stunning aftermath that may have gotten slightly lost in the history books over the years. I hope we do even more than remember. I hope we keep that type of grace alive. I hope we listen again. Check in on one another again. Let's end conversations with love instead of anger. Let us treat people with the type of compassion that they deserve. Let us toast the joy of one another. It is time to pay hope forward.

In light, love and hope...

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