Amid all the memories and memorials, these gentle words helped me today:
I awoke early today at the end of a long, hard week and suddenly realized what today's date is.
This year has been a very draining year for many, and probably most, of my patients, employees, colleagues and friends. Financially and personally, many people have struggled. Some feel very alone in despair, or feel they are carrying a huge burden and just slogging along, day to day. That certainly describes how I've recently felt!
Eight years since 9/11 became a date permanently etched in our collective memory, two things stand out to me. First, how absolutely horrific the massive loss of life was. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones at that time, and who are grieving from any other cause since then. Human beings are precious, each and every one. I hold all of you, those I know well and those I barely know, in my heart today. And I am particularly mindful of all the families who lost loved ones eight years ago and were plunged into a maelstrom of grief and rebuilding. I sincerely hope they have been able to move through their grief and heal to some extent, albeit forever with a scar.
Second, I am aware of the best of human nature and our capacity to help each other in tough times. No one has been more brave, or selfless, than the rescuers who went forth to help their fellow citizens in the Twin Towers, the passengers who interfered with the hijackers on flight 93, the soldiers who followed orders despite personal preferences or beliefs and tried to make life better for local citizens in the war that sprung from 9/11/01. The world has become even smaller since then...one country's economic woes affect other countries, one nation's disaster affects its neighbors, and we are surrounded in daily life and in cyberspace by people of many colors and cultures, united in the effort to survive and achieve something positive with our lives.
A Canadian friend at a conference gave me a pin months after the attack, with the Canadian and U.S. flags and "United We Stand." This gesture meant the world to me. I was surprised and grateful when I received messages of condolence and outrage from colleagues in other countries on 9/11. My first reaction on the day of the attack was that people hated America and that we would stand alone as we tried again to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. You know something? We really AREN'T alone. Helpers are all around us. I will wear that pin today in awareness of that fact.
I am in a helping profession. My staff and I kept working through routine appointments on 9/11 because there didn't seem to be anything else we could do. Eight years later, other people need my help and I'll be there to help them. I am fortunate to be able to support others, but I also have learned from 9/11, earlier and later events that it's ok, and indeed healthy, for me to accept help from other people. I don't have to cope and struggle alone. I hope burned-out colleagues and struggling friends will look for, and accept, kind and hopeful gestures from others, including
perhaps those you are helping today. No matter what we face professionally, personally, financially, we will do it better with a little help from our friends.
Feel free to pass this message along to anyone else you feel might need it. I wish all of you a hopeful and positive day, even as we reflect on the difficult events of eight years ago. I'm with you in solidarity.
Elizabeth Pector, MD
Taking Beth at her word to pass this along.