A 9/11 Birthday… Happy Birthday, Mom

Editing in to add that this post has been published on the Yahoo! Contributor Network. 🙂

It used to be that September 11th was an ordinary day. Well for most families anyway. It’s always been a special day for me because it’s my mom’s birthday. My mom turns 62 years old (gulp, how did THAT happen?!?) today and since this year marks the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I thought I’d share how this day has changed for me and how much I’ve changed since the tragic 9/11 events.

My parents divorced when I was three years old and my mom never remarried, so growing up it was always just the two of us. We were very close and still are. Her name is Shirley, an old-fashioned name for a very progressive, forward-thinking, first adopter of new technologies (this woman has more computer gadgets than Best Buy!), feminist, jazz musician, liberal, hippie of the 60s type of woman. I always looked forward to celebrating her birthday each year… it fell soon after mine (I’m an August baby)… and since she always made a big deal out of my birthday, I liked to make a big deal out of hers too. We’ve shared many, many homemade birthday cakes and special pressies wrapped extra prettily with sparkly ribbons.

On September 11th, 2001, I was driving down the expressway when I got a call on my then very new cell phone. It was my husband telling me there had been an attack on the World Trade Center. Shortly after, my mom called and said she wouldn’t be going to work, she was at home glued in front of her TV. I don’t remember where I was originally headed, but I made a beeline for my mom’s house. I had my 6-month old baby girl with me at the time. We spent the entire day watching the news in horror and disbelief, her birthday all but forgotten.

In the years since, I have become more patriotic. I’ve sought out opportunities to learn about our military and I now thank soldiers when I run into them… I appreciate our service personnel too; the firefighters, police officers, EMTs, all those who serve us everyday to keep us safe and help us when we’re in trouble. I don’t complain when I travel about having to take off my shoes in the security line. I make an effort not to judge someone by how they appear (though I like to think that I did that before too). I try to forgive and not to hate.

In the years since, my mom’s birthday has become a bittersweet day. We start off the much more muted celebration with a moment of silence for the lives lost on that day. Some of the joy will forever be lost because of the tragedy that befell our nation, but we still continue to celebrate because the life of this one special woman represents the spirit of many of our citizens across this country. A spirit that forgives, that loves, that hopes for peace and understanding; a spirit that fiercely loves her family and that would sacrifice anything for them; a spirit that I am honored to call my mother.

Happy Birthday, Mom. This year marks 10 years since 9/11 and I have only grown to love you and this country more. I am so grateful to be an American and your daughter.

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