September 11th – Violence and Terrorism

Sharing a ‘Piece of My Mind’ on 9/11.

It is twenty years today since Al Qaeda, under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, attacked the Pentagon and destroyed the twin towers of the New York World Trade Centre. They were supposedly acting out of retaliation for the USA support of Israel and their involvement in in the Persian war. 

…… It was one of those days, just one of those normal days. I was getting ready for work. Dan was not home, but for some inexplicable reason I had the television on when the first news reports come on. A plane had hit one of the twin towers of The World Trade Centre. Like most everyone else, I assumed it was a horrible, freak accident – until the second plane hit the other tower. On live television, the plane flew straight into the side of the tower and was swallowed whole. This was no accident. By the time I got to work, there was a small television on the service counter. We saw rescue workers swarming the area, we saw people fleeing for their lives, we saw people falling to their deaths, we watched the towers fall – taking countless victims down in clouds of smoke and dust and rubble. We watched the reports on the Pentagon attack and the plane that went down in a field, short of its mark. Even in Saskatchewan, Canada – standing around a small television, thousands of miles from the devastation, we watched in horror and grief. Thousands died that day. There was carnage and mass destruction. Air traffic and any sense of normalcy was brought to a halt for days.

Several al Qaeda members died in this suicide mission. Over a number of years, many of those involved were captured, killed or imprisoned. After evading capture for almost ten years, their leader Osama bin Laden was tracked down and killed.

This horrific act of violence and terrorism shook the United States, Canada, and virtually every country around the globe. Lives and families were destroyed. Chaos reigned. There was billions of dollars in property damages and business losses.

But, what did these terrorists gain. There was no appreciation gained for their cause, no justice, no closure. The only result was the retaliatory measures inevitably taken by the USA and its allies. The escalation of the war against terrorism. More violence, more bloodshed, more loss.

You would think people would learn. After a lesson like 9/11. You would really think people would learn. But have they?

Who are these people that attacked the United States Capitol on January 6th, who carry out attacks on Muslim temples, who attack LGBTQ nightclubs, who burst into malls and schools and theatres with guns blazing, who scream obscenities and throw gravel and dog feces at politicians? What do they want and how do they possibly think they are going to get it with hate and violence?

If bin Laden and Al Qaeda, did not accomplish anything with their 9/11 attacks, how can anyone still possibly believe that hate and violence is the path to victory?

That is all I have for today. My heart goes out to all who are to this day suffering the consequences of of 9/11.

Until tomorrow, take care & stay safe. 💞

September 8th – Grief

The ‘Piece of My Mind’ that I am sharing today is rather a deep one. ‘Grief’ – we all experience it and we all process it in our own way. This post is about my way. (Sorry, this post will be a lengthy one.)

I have experienced a few devastating losses over the years, the first being the loss of my brother-in-law. Paul died suddenly in a horrific accident. His death was a terrible loss for everyone who knew him and definitely for everyone in our family. He had been married to my sister Jeanne as long as I could remember so he was more of a big brother than an in-law. I was shocked and beyond saddened.

Years later – I was driving across the city with my daughter on a Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, I ‘sensed’ Paul lean forward from the back seat and sharply warn me to “protect her”. I glanced over at Jen, who was about nine at the time. She was sprawled across her seat with the seatbelt pulled up to her neck. I barked at her to sit up. She responded immediately by jolting straight up. I looked back at the road just in time to see the black van in front of us slam to a sudden stop. I responded, but not fast enough. I slammed my little sedan into the back of the van. The police came and, as the one behind is always at fault in such situations, I expected to be charged. The police officer spoke to the driver of the van and to me and gave me a minimal ticket. (I don’t remember why the driver of the van had slammed on his brakes). Everyone involved was unharmed and our insurance company covered all of the repairs. The thing with Paul was wierd but I just thought that the mind does strange things. I let it go at that.

The next major loss in my life, was the death of my father. I was devastated. We were so close. He had been suffering from cancer for a few years. My rocky marriage had turned violent and dangerous at the same time. My heart, my soul and my life were just shattered. I stumbled through the next few months until I was forced to pull myself together and get myself and my three teenagers out of the dysfunctional situation with my ex. The next few years brought the best, the worst and the weirdest experiences of my life. Through it all, I often felt my father’s presence. We all did things that we simply could not have done, if he had not been a part of it – supporting us, encouraging us, laughing at our mishaps. My Dad was gone but he had left a part of himself with each and every one of us.

Finally, Mom passed away a few years ago. Losing a parent is always difficult but Mom was ninety-five, the quality of her life had deteriorated in her final years, and she was finally ‘home’ with Dad. We all accepted our loss and we were all prepared to move on with our lives. After the funeral, we all headed back to our own homes and families. A few days later I started to hear hymns in my mind. Like when you get a little tune stuck in your head. But they were not hymns from Mom’s funeral. They were not hymns that I was familiar with. They were hymns that I knew were from my mother’s youth. I knew she had left a piece of her soul in my heart. By that point, I just knew.

Back to my Dad. Losing my Dad had a devastating impact on me at the time of his death and my grief had been overwhelming. With everything else that was terrible about that time, the timing of his death was the hardest. Dad passed away on December 17th – days before Christmas. Everything about that time was made worse by the Christmas decorations, the carols, the holiday reminders that would come back hard and fast – every year, for decades! Every December hit me hard. Finally one year, I woke up on a December morning to a holiday carol. I could feel the familiar pain crushing my heart. And I ‘heard’ my Dad. I heard him tell me to let it go, that every year he felt my pain, and that it was haunting him.

I had the biggest epiphany of my life when I realized that if I could sense his presence in my life, that he could feel mine. I vowed there and then to ‘let it go’. Not just for Dad specifically, but for all that I lost and all that I would lose.

Grief is natural, but going forward I will never allow grief to consume me again. What’s more, I know that no matter what happens in my life, I will do anything I can to keep my heart and my soul light and filled with peace and love, contentment and happiness. It is not just about me or for me. It is about the people that I love. The ones here with me and the ones who go ahead of me. It is for all that I carry in my heart.

So that is my take on life and love, loss and grief. As always, feel free to comment in the comment section below. All comments are welcome and will be respected.

Have a great day! Take care and see you tomorrow. 💞

Mortality

From as long back as I can remember, my Mother would dwell on her own mortality. Every Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving would be her last. Every health episode was fodder for stories that would be told time and time again, with every supporting actor placed at her bedside, anxiously waiting for her to gasp her last breath. Occasionally, she would even adopt health episodes that had actually been mine or my siblings, just to shake things up a bit. I am not sure why she was so obsessed with dying but she lived to be ninety-five and was relatively active and healthy virtually to the end.

The thing is, I was never terribly comfortable listening to my mother go on about her near death experiences or her impending doom. I should probably have been more sensitive to her desire to discuss death but death in general just wasn’t my favourite topic.

Mother and I

Over the years, I have done a fairly passable job of avoiding thinking about my own mortality. I have had a few serious, life threatening episodes – although to be honest I didn’t really understand the severity of such situations at the time. Morphine does that for me. By the time the morphine wears off, I am generally on the road to recovery so there isn’t that much to dwell on. Until lately…

A few weeks ago I had an outbreak of shingles. I knew one woman who had shingles. She was my Mother’s next door neighbour and she was about ninety-seven at the time. My first thought was holy hell – I am old! I have since heard from a number of people who had shingles outbreaks before they turned ninety-seven and and even long before they reached my sixty-four years. But my initial reaction to the diagnosis was shock.

My doctor prescribed an antiviral drug that controlled the shingles rash and made my entire body feel strangely numb. The outbreak passed and other than my eye still being quite itchy, I am almost fine. But not really. I lost my appetite, a good fifteen pounds and a lot of strength. I am so tired. I still struggle. I am definitely reminded that my own death is coming, not today, but sometime in the forseeable future.

I am not excited at the prospect of dying – but the idea does not terrify me. I have been re-invented so many times in this life that the idea of radical change does not bother me. I believe a part of me will stay here with the people I love. I believe a part of me will become a part of the afterlife where others who have passed before me exist. I am pretty sure I will know I am back in their presence. I think it will be beautiful and peaceful, warm and pleasant. I am not anxious to get there, but I am pretty sure it will be ok.

The End