It was early in the evening when the phone call came. Reaching over, I grabbed the phone and was greeted by my cousin who lives in New York City. There was a deep sadness in her voice as she told me that she personally wanted to call me and invite me to the 5-year memorial service she’d be having for her two children.
Although I have spoken with this cousin a number of times since that tragic day, September 11th, five years ago, it had been about 30 years since I last saw her. My work and other time constraints made it highly unlikely that I would be able to attend the event. And, so, I told her that I wasn’t sure that I could come, but I’d try.
After the phone call, I dismissed the matter with the thought that I’d send a card with beautiful words of comfort and hope. As days went on, my thoughts were absorbed with other things such as my writing, my websites, my business associates, my books, my friends, my children … .
My children? Yes, many of us who have children always think about them and trust that they do well. Mine were doing fine, but I still worried a bit. Someone once told me in jest that the first 40 years of raising children are the hardest.
Here I was, thinking of my children who were happy and successful whereas my cousin would never see her only two children on this Earth again. Her daughter and son were both in their twenties and were at work at the World Trade Center when the planes struck. What a dreadful affair that must have been for their mother.
And so, I decided to attend the memorial service. It was one of the best things I ever could have done. Just being there with friends and family members I hadn’t seen in years served as a reminder to me of what was important in life.
Though nothing could bring back my cousin’s children, my presence and that of others brought a small degree of comfort and hope and made it possible for her to “keep on keeping on.” I would have been selfish indeed, had I let my work and other commitments prevented me from making that trip.
We may not usually think that we have an effect on the lives of others, but we would be amazed at how wrong we could be. We do not need to make great contributions to the world — just small, consistent ones to those whose lives we touch. We could help so many people by just taking the time to listen to them, comfort them or just bring them hope.
I am glad that I visited my cousin. I gained so much by being there. I will never be able to understand exactly how she feels. Nobody could really understand exactly how someone else feels, but we could get a general idea. If we are understanding and compassionate, we will not only feel better about ourselves, but we may have a tremendous, beneficial effect on those whose lives we touch.