This Day

20140710_192150I’m not writing about wolfdogs today. I’m not writing about dogs in general today. I’m not writing about donkeys, horses, mules, hogs, or even squirrels today.

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.