Nope, I’m setting all of my favorite topics aside to write about 9/11. But it’s not what you think.
Of course this day holds meaning for me—for everyone worldwide. I remember this day clearly in 2001. I had just turned 40 years old and I never dreamed the country that seemed like such a safe place could be paralyzed by fear, even for just a moment. Of course, I’ll never forget that day.
Today, however, I’m actually writing about 9/11/2002. That was the day we all anticipated as a gloomy anniversary; a day to reflect on terrific loss and devastation. I might have gone down that path, if not for my co-worker at the time, Weltha Wood.
Weltha is a wonderful, bright, delightfully bohemian woman who proudly marches to the beat of her own drum. She has a beautiful smile and amazing eyes that capture your gaze and almost dare you to try to look away. She can be a bit of a force when she wants to be. I have always enjoyed her very much.
On 9/11/2002, Weltha taught me a precious lesson. As I prepared to join a nation in somber remembrance, Weltha greeted the workday with one of her terrific smiles.
“Today,” she proclaimed, “is my birthday.” My heart sank a little for her at that moment.
“Oh…this must be so hard for you,” I responded thinking how terrible it would be to have your birthday overshadowed by such a terrible event.
“No,” she said shaking her head. “This day was my day long before terrorists tried to make it their day. I refuse to let them take my day. This is MY birthday.”
And as I let her words sink in, I realized how very right she was. I would not let evil control this beautiful day either.
So I returned Weltha’s smile with a genuine one of my own and wished her a very happy birthday. Now, each year on 9/11, the first thing I think about is Weltha’s birthday. I make a point to wish her a happy birthday every year, even though we haven’t worked together for over a decade. And every year she thanks me.
I wonder if she realizes she is the one who really gave me an incredible gift on her special day.
Today I will bow my head in silent remembrance, but only for a moment. The rest of this day I will hold my head high in celebration of life, liberty, and the fabulous birthday girl.
I won’t let them steal this day from me either, Weltha. Happy, happy birthday to you.