Late August and early September is always a tough time for me. Living in New Orleans, many of us still want to crawl under a pillow and pretend that August 29 doesn’t exist. Followed shortly by September 11. Ditto on the pillow. Two terrible days in just two weeks. It’s this time of year that reminds me that I have also been incredibly lucky. So, today I’ll share a little bit about my memories.
You see, when the two airplanes hit the Twin Towers on September 11, I was in Los Angeles. The scariest part? I was in the World Trade Center in Los Angeles. I was 2,000 miles from home – at the time, it was Chicago. It was total chaos. At first we weren’t allowed to leave the building, but eventually, when it became apparent that it wasn’t safe, we were told to leave. Where was I supposed to go? I had no idea. But I did have a rental car, a luxury so many people did not. And so I hit the road.
As I drove home from Los Angeles over 3 days, my emotions reeled. Was there more to come? Would I see my family again? If I didn’t, what would be left of my memories? Fast forward to Hurricane Katrina, and the water that washed away so much.
HURRICANE KATRINA – AUGUST 29
I moved to New Orleans in 2007, less than a year after Hurricane Katrina. My husband and I had come to volunteer, and we had been gutting houses and helping families in the city. We had already planned to move here prior to the hurricane, so we took a chance and decided to stay. It’s been home ever since. Although we were fortunate enough not to have lost everything, we also saw firsthand the loss and devastation people throughout this beautiful city felt. And it was heartbreaking.
Its times like these when I pull the photo albums down from the shelf. I cuddle up on the couch, letting the pages slip through my fingers. I feel the history of everything in that book and I smile at all the memories I have created in my life. I stop at a photograph of me and my grandmother, long gone but still dearly missed. And I wonder, who are we without our memories? Without those photographs to remind us who we love and what is important? The images of our babies growing up, little versions of us with our grandparents and parents, children off to college and getting married. And everything in between. One day, this may be your everything.
We are always waiting for something – there is always a reason why we aren’t taking photographs. Maybe its money, maybe its time, maybe you are waiting for your toddler to be better behaved. The thing is, we don’t know when our lives will change. We can’t predict it. You will turn around and that toddler will be 10, and you will be wondering where all the time went. So hold tight to your loved ones, and make time for the important things.
September is a month of remembrance for me. It’s also the month of Grandparents day, the first day of fall, and the calm before the storm of holiday craziness. Take a moment this month. Think about those memories you want to create and remember, that album of priceless images that you will take down for the shelf for so many years. The same one your children will cherish. The perfect time to make new memories.