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Day 252: f*ing friday :: forgotten

9 Sep

Today continues the weekly series, F*ing Fridays, which will coincidentally occur on Friday. I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the word Fit.

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:

As in, not  forgotten.  We will always remember.

There will be many memories shared in our collective consciousness this weekend.  There will be television shows, news reports, radio programs and articles dedicated to not forgetting.

We are destined to remember.

Where were you on September 11?
People will ask.  They want to know.  We all want to know where you were, what you were thinking, what happened in your life the day the world broke open and our hearts bled.

I haven’t forgotten.
I was at work in Boston. My father called me on my cell phone: “Please tell me you are not on a plane right now.”  I assured him I was not.  I was stuck like glue to my crappy chair at my crappy job, doing crappy work for a crappy company.

He was reassured.
So was I.

As the world cried, my tears ran too.
We were all stunned, aching, grieving, disbelieving.
This wasn’t happening.  How could it be happening?  Was this really happening?

In that crisp blue sky, the morning of September 11, 2001, I recognized a particle of the grief permeating the air.  I sensed the lifelong sorrow already building up and it shook my body to the core.

I felt it rise. I smelled it.
I had already witnessed a piece of it first hand a few years before.

It was on a very similar crisp and warm early September day. I received a phone call.  The final message: Your mother is not going to make it through the night.  You need to come home.

The problem was I couldn’t get on a plane in time. I couldn’t cross the country from Michigan to Idaho until the next morning. So I called home, over and over again.  It just rang, and when it finally was answered I was put on hold and told to call back in a few more minutes because she couldn’t talk.

I kept dialing.
I wanted to talk to my mother. I wanted to hear her voice. I wanted to tell her I loved her one last time.

Eventually I dialed and got through. I was instructed that my mother couldn’t talk, and I would only hear moaning sounds.  They said: “Just keep talking, she can hear you.”

As tears rolled down my cheeks I very gently repeated over and over, “I love you mom.  I love you so much. I love you.”  With everything I had I tried to make a connection, tried to sense her on the other end of the telephone line.

I heard her moan.
The next thing I heard was my father’s voice. “She heard you.”

We hung up and I tossed and turned all night, waiting for the alarm to let me know it was time to leave for the airport, it was time to go home.

As I sat on the plane starring out the window at the clouds below me I was vaguely aware of my surroundings, it was like sleep walking through the motions. The words repeated in my mind: you are going home because your mother is dying.

I had no idea if she was still there.  I had no idea if I would see her again.
But, as soon as I stepped off the plane and saw my father, Justin’s mother and Justin’s father waiting to greet me, I knew. I knew she was gone.

My stomach did a somersault as my mind assessed the situation. If she were still here, they would have sent someone else to pick me up at the airport.

As it turns out, in the middle of the wee hours of the morning I woke up.
I sat straight up in bed gasping for breath.
In the next few days, while reading the notes my aunt took as she sat next to my mother in her final hours, I discovered that was the exact moment my mother left this earth.  The same time.

I can relive every single moment of those early September days in my mind.
There are so many things I have not forgotten.

I have not forgotten the last time I saw her alive. The last hug I gave her as I boarded a plane to fly back east just a few months before her death.

I have not forgotten the first line of the speech I gave at her funeral:
My sister called her Mom.  My cousins called her “Aunt Weda”.  My father called her honey.  And, I called her everyday.

I have not forgotten dancing in the kitchen with her as she cooked with one hand and twirled me around with the other.

I have not forgotten the way she rocked me in her rocking chair when I was upset. Even when I was a teenager.

I have not forgotten the look on her face the night Justin and I (at age seventeen) accidentally fell asleep in the basement and she found us there in the morning.

I have not forgotten her laugh.  Or her smile.  Or her cinnamon rolls.  Or her hugs.

These moments no September morning can take away.

Whether it is your mother, or your brother, or sister or husband.  Whether they were lost in a moment of terror or through a terrible disease.

The moments we remember are their legacy, the gift they leave behind.
And, it’s a beautiful thing really, never to forgot.

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