Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 & Noe

Today, September 11, 2011, marks the tenth anniversary of the attack by terrorists on the United States.  As a result, this has been a weekend of retrospection on television.  Once again the images of that tragic day have seared their way into our consciousness.  Scenes of abject panic in the streets of New York, a blazing Pentagon in Washington, and smoke rising from a newly formed crater in a farmer's field in rural Pennsylvania have all brought back difficult memories.

Dedications and commemorations have taken place in every corner of the land.  The nearly 3,000 who perished that day have been remembered in countless ceremonies at the sites of where they actually happened and in the small corners of the villages and towns that dot this expansive country.  Sober faced politicians have laid wreaths and spoken words of comfort and compassion.  Partisan politics seem to have taken a much deserved vacation for at least one, brief weekend before resuming its mind numbing rhetoric with the beginning of the new week.  And this is as it should be.

For our family, today also marks an anniversary, for one year ago this very day, a bundle of energy and joy announced herself to the world.  Her name is Noelliah but we call her Noe (Noee) for short.  She came into this world with a smile and personality that proclaimed a new day had dawned and the world (at least ours) would never be the same.

This little girl, brought instant joy to her two sisters and proud parents.  There is something about her that will not allow you to take your eye off of her.  By the time Christmas rolled around, Noe was like bottled energy, all ready to be let loose but not sure exactly where to go with all of it.  She grinned from ear to ear her first Christmas day and anyone who spent time with her could have testified that she new the real meaning of the season far better than all the adults in the room because she simply lit up with joy.  I held her for a while on that cold and snowy winter afternoon and she was ready to go.  Her little legs were always in motion and that infectious smile lit up every feature of that three month old face.

During the course of her first year, she has delighted us with her antics and amazed us at how quickly she has grown.  One glance at a photograph reveals that twinkle in her eye that speaks of her love of life even at this tender age.  She delights in being with her sisters.  She cuddles with mom and warms those long evenings when my son Josh works long hours to support his brood.  She lights up as daddy comes home and can't wait to leap into his arms.

Yet, the joy of this first birthday could be tempered with the sadness that history has punctuated this day with.  The thought of thousands of innocent people who went to work that morning with no thought of death whatsoever suddenly perishing in a brutal, unprovoked attack could dampen any day.  And we could be forgiven if it did.  The misery and suffering of that day was enormous and has impacted us all even though most of us did not personally know of anyone who died in the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, or that lonely field in the countryside of Pennsylvania.  We are, after all, all connected by our very humanity and the thought of the carnage of that day is certainly a sad and melancholy thought.

Yet, that day with all of its sadness and tragic memories is not the whole story of 9/11.  Who would have guessed ten years ago that our family would be blessed on this very day nine years into the future with God's symbol of hope and joy.  That is what this day is all about.  We are not callous when we think of celebrating the life of this precious child born on one of the most historic day in our nation's history.  We are human!  Noe has brought a new dimension of life into our midst and it a dimension that demands celebration.  She is the embodiment of hope.  She is the future.  She will have no memory of that awful day that stunned us all.  She will have only the history books and stories from those of us who were alive when we were attacked.  Every day, little Noe is a reminder that God renews the face of the earth with new life.  Every day, every new child is a reminder that life goes on and it is ours to celebrate because despite the difficulties we encounter, each day is a gift.

And so, on this most somber of days, we do take time out to celebrate with all our hearts, the little girl with the big smile and enough energy to keep us all going for years to come.  Happy Birthday, Noe, from a grandpa that is grateful to God for the bundle of joy that you truly are!