Diwali: Celebrating the Spirit of Light and Love

Diwali: Celebrating the Spirit of Light and Love

My paternal grandfather passed away on the day of Diwali. I had never known him. He passed away long before my parents got married. Every time I think of him, I feel a soft gentle wave of love from his heart and a hidden smile on his lips. I have heard from a few relatives that he was a short-tempered person, but nevertheless a gentle one if you know what I mean. My paternal grandmother’s sister (who passed away just a few years ago, and she is another beautiful soul about whom I shall write another day) used to talk a lot about him, and all the wonderful stories I have heard about him are through her, and a few of course from my own father too. 

However, I could never mourn my grandfather. Because I never knew him.

I only knew of him in a celebratory sort of way or as a legend, the way my paternal grandmother’s sister spoke about him. As a child, I did not understand why my (joint and extended) family never celebrated Diwali when all my friends did. My brother was more vocal about it. He asked questions and finally, our father saw through our confusion, and also our need to feel belonged to the community we lived in. My father also is a very soft, gentle, and compassionate person who puts the other person’s needs in front of his. He probably did not want to disappoint the family he was born into by disturbing their day of mourning. But now with two extroverted and high-spirited children, he did not want to disappoint them either.

So finally we started celebrating Diwali.

We burst crackers, hung out with friends, shopped till we dropped dead tired, decorated the house. Having done everything people did on days leading to, and on Diwali day, we felt better about the whole thing initially. We are not a religious family. In India, Diwali is all about a spirit. It is not about religion – well though of course it is a festival of lights, and signifies good over evil, the day the Lord won over the demons, and so on.

But Diwali is more about the spirit of community, celebration, unity, love, and light.

It is like Christmas in India – that is, you just celebrate it because it feels good, it feels happy and it is in the air. 

A lot of times, on Diwali we used to travel to Chennai, and spend time with our extended Heartfulness community in the Heartfulness center because that was also so much fun for us as children. As we grew up, we did that more often, and that was more joyous, as we had a nice reunion with a lot of family and friends in Chennai in the Heartfulness center, where we used to spend a couple of days during and after Diwali. 

After I got married, the idea of Diwali changed.

My husband’s family believed in celebrating Diwali more traditionally, and I felt I should honor that, to the best of my capacity. I did what I could in my wisdom and knowledge at that time. Earlier, our father went out of the way to make us feel happy, cherished, and give us a sense of belonging. I remembered our father making sure everyone felt the spirit of love, light, and kindness. And well, I felt inspired to emulate that, in my current small capacity, at that time. 

This year and the past one have been tough for all of us including me. Today, our son, his friends, and our community refuse to burst crackers, and I appreciate that so much. He says he has taken the ‘green pledge’ in his school and refuses to pollute the atmosphere with the fumes from the crackers. I think I honor this more than anything else. Diwali is yet another day in his life. My son’s friends just hang out and play Minecraft or football. Or they just spend those extra hours of the holiday in their Lit-club or Debate-club. Or sometimes, just switch on the AC, close the door of the room, and make some music album covers. And what do we do as a couple? It is a day of rest and respite, a day for catching up with each other.

The spirit of Diwali stays on, in spite of things that have changed so much in our respective lives.

The spirit of Diwali, is about leading us from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light, from death to immortality. The Sanskrit verse which signifies this truth is from the Upanishads, one of the ancient texts of India. Once, I had this most inspiring moment of feeling belonged to this extraordinary heritage and rich culture. That was when I heard the lyrics of the background score from the movie Matrix. Those lyrics which signify the spirit of Diwali made me feel part of this ancient wisdom and evolutionary path too.

So, whatever you do on this Diwali day, enjoy the light in your heart, the love in the air, and peace in the universe.

And of course, listen to the background score from the movie Matrix! 

असतो मा सद्गमय ।

तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।

मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

***

asato mā sadgamaya,

tamaso mā jyotirgamaya,

mṛtyormā’mṛtaṃ gamaya.

Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

***

From ignorance, lead me to knowledge,

And, from darkness, lead me to light,

From death, lead me to immortality.

Peace, Peace, Peace. 

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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Parents Demand Action at Upcoming Global Climate Talks in Glasgow

Parents Demand Action at Upcoming Global Climate Talks in Glasgow

The irony is not lost on me as I write this post going on almost 48hrs without power. 90,000 other Rhode Islanders lost power as well in the most recent Nor’easter to blow through. Storms and power outages are becoming more frequent and more severe. The climate crisis is here and only going to get worse if we do not take drastic action.

In August Harriet Shugarman of ClimateMama wrote a guest post on World Moms Network about the UN Climate Report that called the climate crisis a “Code Red for Humanity”. This week she shared plans to present the organizational letter to demand real action at the upcoming COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow from October 31st through November 12th.

I signed on to the letter for presentation at COP26 crafted by parentsforfuture.org to demand no new fossil fuels. Now is the time to speak up and lend your voice as the world comes together to tackle this pressing global issue.

We demand you take the critical step to end financing and licensing for all new fossil fuel exploration today.

Parents’ Demand

The deadline to add your name to the letter is October 31st

The letter begins:

“We are millions of parents from all around the world, writing on behalf of the children we love. We demand that you end financing for all new fossil fuels now.

Our children are being poisoned by toxic pollution from burning fossil fuels with every breath they take. That burning is also the key driver of the climate crisis, which is ruining our children’s futures and destroying our only home.”- Read more

In the best interest of our children, we at World Moms Network are joining in to make our voices heard. Please join in.

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

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Child Marriage And HIV: How COVID-19 Is Hindering Progress

Child Marriage And HIV: How COVID-19 Is Hindering Progress

Last month, my county had its 32nd Annual AIDS Walk to pay tribute to those who we have lost, and to support those who are living with HIV/AIDS. Whenever I receive an invitation to this event, I remember a news story I did a decade ago about how child marriage and HIV have common drivers, and what UNICEF was doing to combat child marriage and HIV/AIDS.

Some of the factors that put girls at risk of child marriage also place them at higher risk of HIV infection. These include poverty, low education attainment, and gender inequalities, especially those that limit girls’ ability to make decisions about their own health.

And this year, there is one more factor—COVID-19.

With 25 million child marriages averted in the last decade, UNICEF issued a warning earlier this year that these gains are now under serious threat: 10 million additional girls at risk of child marriage due to COVID-19.

According to the UNICEF analysis, school closures, economic stress, service disruptions, pregnancy, and parental deaths due to the pandemic are putting the most vulnerable girls at increased risk of child marriage.

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, 100 million girls were at risk of child marriage in the next decade, despite significant reductions in several countries in recent years. In the last ten years, the proportion of young women globally who were married as children had decreased by 15 per cent, from nearly 1 in 4 to 1 in 5. This is the equivalent of some 25 million marriages averted, a gain that is now under threat.

“COVID-19 has made an already difficult situation for millions of girls even worse. Shuttered schools, isolation from friends and support networks, and rising poverty have added fuel to a fire the world was already struggling to put out. But we can and we must extinguish child marriage,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement.

And the AIDS Walk just reminded me of what these girls have to lose if we do not act urgently – their education, their health, and their futures.  

Here is the situation on our hands. When a girl turns 12 and lives in poverty, her future is out of her control. In the eyes of many, she’s a woman now. She faces the reality of being married by the age of 14 and pregnant by the time she’s 15. If she survives childbirth, she might have to sell her body to support her family, which puts her at risk of contracting and spreading HIV. Definitely not the life we would imagine for a 12-year-old.

There is a solution. Imagine rewinding her to age 12. Have her visit a doctor regularly, and help her stay in school where she’s safe. Then she can use her education to earn a living, avoid HIV, marry and have children when she’s ready, and raise happy and healthy children like herself. Now imagine this solution continuing for generation after generation.

COVID-19 is profoundly affecting the solution and the lives of girls in poverty. Pandemic-related travel restrictions and physical distancing make it difficult for girls to access the health care, social services and community supports that protect them from child marriage, unwanted pregnancy and gender-based violence. As schools remain closed, girls are more likely to drop out of education and not return. Job losses and increased economic insecurity may also force families to marry their daughters off to ease financial burdens.

Worldwide, an estimated 650 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood, with about half of those marriages occurring in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Nigeria. To off-set the impacts of COVID-19 and end the practice by 2030—the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals—progress must be significantly accelerated.

“One year into the pandemic, immediate action is needed to mitigate the toll on girls and their families,” added Fore in the same statement. “By reopening schools, implementing effective laws and polices, ensuring access to health and social services—including sexual and reproductive health services—and providing comprehensive social protection measures for families, we can significantly reduce a girl’s risk of having her childhood stolen through child marriage.”

Is child marriage a common problem in your part of the world? What can those of us who live elsewhere do to help?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by To-wen Tseng. Photo credit: Raphael Pouget/UNICEF.

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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5 Reasons Moms Make Great Advocates

5 Reasons Moms Make Great Advocates

As the world struggles with the pandemic and increasing political division, it is more apparent than ever that government policies – local and global – greatly affect the fates of our families. Many moms have awakened to this reality and are trying to be strong advocates. Yet many don’t know what to do beyond protesting in the streets to get the attention of decision makers. They get frustrated to the point of throwing up their hands and saying, “Why even bother?”

I encourage every mother to engage in the next steps of reaching out personally to elected officials, because we have the motivation and skills to change hearts and minds! For over a decade, I’ve coached everyday folks to meet with members of U.S. Congress. I continually see the characteristics that mothers have that make us powerful advocates.

Here are five reasons that you should tell your government what’s on your mind: 

#1 Moms are powerful

Have you ever been reduced to a weeping heap after watching a news story or a movie about children in distress? In those moments, many of us think, “I wish I weren’t so fragile.” Yet those maternal moments of vulnerability are precisely what give you special strength to speak out for those who needlessly suffer. As mothers, we often find ourselves momentarily consumed by crushing empathy when we encounter stories of parents who can’t give their children what they need. But this emotional response isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, this ability to internalize another person’s story gives you great power because caring and empathy are contagious.

Your passion can incite a riot of emotion and resolve in your hearers even if—especially if—your voice cracks when you retell it. If your audience is a senator, a congressional aide, or anyone in the path of power, you are in a position to create change. Your emotional retelling is more likely to inspire action than a dry recitation of facts and figures.

Your vulnerability can be your strength. And the ability to turn your emotion into positive, constructive action can be your superpower. When you learn to combine your emotions with information and clear requests, you become dangerous to the status quo. You threaten systems that keep families stuck in cycles of suffering. And that is a very, very good thing.

#2 Moms explain things

If you can sit on the floor and explain a concept to second graders, then you’re speaking plainly enough to be understood by a member of Congress. That may sound like a joke, but I’m quite serious. Explaining concepts to kids means boiling your message down to its most basic parts and delivering it in an engaging way. Even though U.S. representatives might sit in high-level briefings all day, that doesn’t mean they relish listening to someone reel off a bunch of statistics out of context. Children love to hear clear explanations accompanied by stories, and so do adults! Never forget that they’re as human as anyone else. 

#3 Moms are persistent advocates

It would be nice if governments were so efficient that a single conversation could convince a policymaker to support your request. In reality, it usually takes time, patience, and more reminders than you give your children to get their laundry off the floor.

Unfortunately, no matter how urgent you feel your issue is, there will always be hundreds of other matters clamoring for a congressperson’s attention. Plus, if the office staffers are not already aware of your issue, they’re going to have to research and consider your request even if they don’t oppose it. A mother’s touch to provide helpful information and consistent reminders is an incredible advantage. 

#4 Moms are responsible

Once you’ve been the sole person standing between a happy family and total family chaos, you start to view your place in the world a little differently. Some moms are fortunate to have responsible spouses to shoulder a lot of familial tasks. But women in every part of the world bear the heavier responsibility for household chores and child-rearing. Moms are generally the ones making lunches, outfitting diaper bags, scheduling play dates, and making sure you don’t run out of toilet paper or cheese sticks. Moms are chess players looking two, three, and four moves into the future.

So, how does a responsible nature translate to successful advocacy? It allows you to stay organized and prepared to react to the needs of your volunteer groups. It gets you to meetings on time with all the materials you need. It helps you respond to emails from congressional aides in a timely manner. Moms are welcomed at advocacy conferences because we are low-maintenance, responsible, capable people who get things done.

#5 Moms are experts in the most important skills

I won’t tell you that everything I needed to know about advocacy I learned in kindergarten. But I insist that the most critical lessons were learned around age five, especially since the most successful advocates believe in strong teamwork. Advocates should always be prepared to:

  • Treat others with respect;
  • Share;
  • Give everyone in the group a turn to play;
  • Avoid calling anyone a hurtful name;
  • Apologize when you hurt someone; and
  • Say “please” and “thank you” (this is the number one lesson and the step that is most often forgotten when talking with members of Congress as well as other volunteers).

Moms keep all of these skills top of mind because we coach our kids to use them. We should be able to follow them even when our children aren’t in the same room. We can model these important skills for young college activists and aging senators alike.

Our mom voices need to be heard more than ever before in our political climate of nastiness that permeates cable news and social media. Mom advocates can be at the forefront of carrying a positive tone of reason, kindness, and respect into politics. Whatever the cause is that drives you to protect your children, put yourself forward. You are more powerful than you think.

Have you, or would you, approach your government with issues in your community? Has being a parent helped you in this quest?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Cynthia Levin. Photo credit to the author.

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.

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World Moms for Sustainable Development Goals

World Moms for Sustainable Development Goals

What Are SustainableDevelopment Goals?

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda includes 17 goal, known as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), which are an urgent call to action by all people from all nations for the betterment of humanity and the planet.

The United Nations General Assembly (#UNGA) meeting is happening in New York City this week (September 21-27, 2021). In recognition of UNGA, some of our World Moms chimed in about which SDG resonates most with them and why.

What SDG Means the Most to You and Why?

Tes in The US says: I believe that all the SDGs are important but for me, SDG#5-Gender Equality, is what I am passionate about. Being Filipino but raised here in the United States, I have witnessed a country with its share of inequality. While inequality does exist for girls and women in jobs and education, I am grateful and lucky to be able to fight against it and advocate for girls and women through the opportunities presented to me on a daily basis.

Nitsana in Israel says: I remember how impressed and excited I was about seeing the list of SDGs. You can’t fix something if you don’t have a goal. A goal is the first step for having a plan, and with a plan, everything is possible. I love them all but I think the ones that touch me most deeply are ending poverty and hunger. There are several reasons I see these as the most basic and important. First, it should be our primary goal to make sure every human is cared for in the most basic sense, that he/she can live a life of dignity. I want to live in a world where everyone is cared for. Also, once the population of the world is out of “survival mode,” anything is possible. It says something about us as humans that we make sure to care for others; that we set up systems where everyone can thrive. I have a lot to say about each of the goals but these, to me, are the first step.

Piya in India says: While all the SDGs are very important, my heart beats for SDG#5, Gender equality! As Director of VESLARC, I am privileged to be working in the domain of gender sensitization. We put an emphasis on mutual respect for several thousand students of the various schools and colleges of Vivekanand Education Society, in Mumbai, India. It’s a sad yet undeniable truth that there are major disparities, when it comes to opportunities for education, job openings, career progression, and pay scales, between men and women. SDG 5 is not only for empowering our girls and women. The “hidden” fact is that a culture that is strongly patriarchal is also “bad news” for its men. Peer pressure and the need to conform to stereotypes can diminish the sense of identity of our boys. We need to join hands to empower every young child—irrespective of gender or gender orientation—about their tremendous potential and help them shake free of limiting labels!

Kyla in Portugal says: For me, the two most important SDGs are Gender Equality and Quality Education, which, to me, go hand-in-hand. The saying goes: “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach the man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” I think the saying should say: “Give a woman a fish, you’ll feed her family for a day. Teach a woman to fish, you’ll feed a whole community.” I have long been an advocate for Girl Power and Women Empowerment. The path to achieving these is through education.

Simona in Spain says: The most important goal for me is Good Health and Wellbeing. My grandfather was a doctor. He used to say, “health is the 1 that gives value to all the 0s of life.” By that he meant that if (for example) you are rich but don’t have your health, you have 0, but if you are healthy and wealthy, you have 10. Nothing is worth anything if you are not healthy enough to use it or enjoy it. It also upsets me terribly that very often life-saving procedures or medicines are simply unaffordable to the vast majority of people. As someone who lives with medical issues which require me to take chronic medicines, I am painfully aware of this cost. I am one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to choose between necessary medicine and food but for many, that is the monthly struggle. People shouldn’t have to remortgage their homes in order to be able to pay for the necessary procedures and / or medicines and / or mobility aids they need.

Jen in The US says: It is difficult to pick just one, so I’m picking two of my favorite SDGs! #4 the right to a universal education and #5 women and girl empowerment. My ancestors who were immigrants wanted an education, but they couldn’t afford it. As for me, I wanted to study abroad, but couldn’t afford it during college. I think education shouldn’t just be for those who can afford it. Otherwise, the world misses out on so many incredible minds and ideas to move us forward! Also, education serves as a step out of poverty for so many around the globe, which makes it so important. And until women and girls are treated equally, I’ll be fighting!!

Purnima in India says: I think all of the SDGs are important. I cannot say that I love SDG #5 more because I am passionate about Gender Equality and want to see the well-being of my sisters across the world, rather than SDG #1 which is ‘No Poverty’. How can we achieve SDG #3, which is Good Health and Well Being, if we do not also achieve #1 and #2? So I think ALL of these SDGs are very important and feel for all of them equally. If we do not have peace in our hearts, and if we do not come together and make friendships and relationships and partnerships (SDG #16 and SDG #17), how can we solve SDG#1 through #5, or for that matter, any of the SDGs?! My personal SDG journey began at World Moms Network. When I started out, my contribution to WMN was just a hobby. Over the years, this sisterhood has given me serious life-goals. This is why I cannot pick just one.

Tell us what United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is most important to YOU. World Moms want to know.

This is a collaborative post for World Moms Network from our global network of contributors. The images used in this post come directly from the #UNSDG website and are used digitally based on their guidelines.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Twenty Years On: Reflecting On 9/11

Twenty Years On: Reflecting On 9/11

On September 11, 2001 – the day known to the world as 9/11 – I was a year into my new life in Canada. My office in the west end of Toronto had a perfect view of the Toronto skyline, including the distinctive CN Tower, then the tallest free-standing structure in the world.

About an hour after I got to work that day, I got myself a cup of coffee and was walking back to my desk. A colleague stopped me and handed me a printout from the CNN website.  It showed a picture of the World Trade Center’s North Tower with smoke billowing from the top half.  My immediate reaction was that this must be a Photoshop hoax. When I realized that it was a legitimate photograph, I thought the same thing as everyone else: that a freakish and tragic accident had occurred.

As I scrutinized the picture, I heard a shout coming from the direction of the conference room. Someone had been able to get the temperamental TV to work, and we all spilled into the room just in time to see live footage of the plane hitting the South Tower.  An hour later, we were still sitting in the conference room.  We were incapable of speech; someone muted the sound on the TV because the frantic commentary of chaos was violating the silence that we all needed. 

I don’t think anyone moved for about ten minutes.  Eventually, someone at the back of the room whispered, “Oh my God.”  That utterance was a catalyst for everyone to rush to their phones to call family members, pausing on the way past the window to see if the CN Tower was still there.

There was no question of any work getting done that day.  We all spent the day on the phone, contacting loved ones south of the border to find out who was alive and who wasn’t.  My parents called from South Africa, unashamedly relieved to hear my voice.  Toronto is not that far from New York, especially to people watching the chaos unfold from the other side of the world. 

After talking to my parents, I frantically tried to get in touch with my friends in New York City.  By late afternoon, there were two people I had not been able to reach – Luisa and Jason.  I went to bed that night not knowing whether they were alive or dead.  I didn’t sleep.  I suspect that most people didn’t that night.

Luisa’s husband emailed me early the following morning.  As soon as the South Tower had been hit, she and her coworkers had been evacuated from their office a block away to some hall somewhere.  Phone signals were jammed: for several hours, Luisa’s husband did not know whether she had been buried in the rubble of collapsing towers. It was almost midnight by the time she got home, traumatized but alive.

But what had become of Jason? At lunchtime on September 12th, I spoke to a mutual friend, Mark, who had commuted to work with him the previous morning. Jason had dropped his dog off at the vet on his way to work, so he was late.  The two friends had gotten off the subway at the same stop, and then they had gone into a Starbucks for their morning coffee.  With coffee in hand, Jason had gone into the North Tower, waving goodbye to Mark, who had to go a few blocks further.  The time was about 8:35 a.m. 

Eleven minutes later, the North Tower was hit.  I tried to convince Mark that Jason could have left the building in those ten minutes. Mark said it was unlikely. Jason had said something about a 9:00 meeting for which he had not prepared.  He would have been sipping his coffee and working on reports at his desk, which was right in the flight path of a hijacked plane. 

I said to Mark, “I hope Jason got to finish his coffee.” People say the oddest things in times of stress.

9/11 memorial museum
The 9/11 memorial

Now, twenty years later, I reflect on that day along with the rest of the world.  I think of Jason and hope he died instantly, with no pain or stress.  I look at my two children, neither of whom was alive on 9/11, one of whom is on the cusp of becoming an adult, and I wonder what kind of world their children will live in.  I look at the world around me – at the discrimination and violence that almost seem to have become normalized – and I wonder if we have really learned anything.

Poignantly, I wonder what became of Jason’s dog, the one he dropped off at the vet on that terrible morning. The dog is certainly not alive anymore, but I hope it found a new home, and perhaps helped some family get through the unspeakable collective grief from 9/11.

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Kirsten Doyle.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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