Can it really be eight years? Eight years since we all stood glued to the television shocked and awed by the events unfolding before our eyes; events we could have never imagined would ever happen on American soil.
September 11, 2001....
I remember listening to the radio and hearing that a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the world trade center. A friend of mine was the DJ on a local station that morning and my first thought was it's a joke, then I thought, "Who's the idiot who flew the Cessna into the World Trade Center?" Then....I turned on the TV.
I stood there watching for a few minutes trying to understand exactly what was happening. As I stood there I witnessed the second plane fly directly into the second tower. I was stunned, complete disbelief. Was this honestly happening or was I an observer in a very bad dream? The door bell rang....in walked a group of realtors ready to assess the value of my house. The house I had just put on the market after losing my multi million dollar business the week before. My thought was, did it really matter?
Eight years ago every thing changed.....for most of us..
The next eight years saw my sister deployed to Iraq and my brother in law deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the "War Against Terror". They are both facing deployments to Afghanistan in the next year. The events of that day continue for them and thousands of others in our military.
I lost my business and moved to Las Vegas....always feeling like I wasn't where I was supposed to be...doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Every year on the anniversary I watched the coverage of that day. Every year I was reminded how finite life was. I did not personally lose anyone......I feel for the people who did. I kept thinking I don't want to die without doing what I need to do....live.
Time sped by, moved to Las Vegas, started and lost another business and still questioned what I was doing with my life. I turned 40. Now I would change. Then I was 42 and nothing had changed. And then, last September as yet another 9/11 anniversary reminded me how quickly life can change, how quickly it can all be over I read the article about Project Rwanda in Outside Magazine.
Tonight as I watched the footage from eight year ago, I still cried. I cried for the people lost and the people who had lost loved ones. But this year, I cried knowing I now have no regrets. I cried, thankful I grew up in this country and appreciating all the amazing opportunities I have to do the things I do including living in another country.
The transition back into life in America has not been easy. There are so many things that have changed. Things that seemed so important no longer have that same draw. I like my simple life in Rwanda. I like knowing that every day for me "counts". I no longer waste time just getting by. I live every day with no holding back. It makes for some great highs and some spectacular lows. I find myself anxious to go back, missing Rwanda, the people and my life there.
However, I also like knowing that I'm an American, living in Rwanda. For that, I am thankful.