Most people remember where they were and what they were doing when they first got the news of the 9/11 tragedies. I remember. One hundred fifty miles north of the World Trade Center, I was driving down the highway to train my successor for the job I quit a month before. I had no replacement job; my new title was Stay-at-Home-Mom. My sons were ten and fifteen.
I was starting a new life of hope and promise when so many others’ lives were shattered. That day made me realize how grateful I was to have woken up to my priorities before it was too late.
I quit my job because Matthew—my fifteen-year-old— was having a painfully slow recovery from the damage caused by his brain tumor, diagnosed four years earlier. I needed to focus on him, focus on healing our family, and focus on healing myself—physically and emotionally—from the ordeal. My career came last. Or it should have, but it didn’t always.
My position had been Student Assistance Counselor in a K-5 elementary school. I taught lessons on feelings and problem solving and decision making, and ran support groups for sad or angry or floundering students. I loved the kids, loved the job, but the job didn’t always love me back. Too many needy kids needed me too much. After nine years, it sucked me dry. My sons and my husband got the dregs of my energy and attention, whatever was left after I gave at the office.
It’s too complicated to explain here how this imbalance happened; someday, you’ll read about it in my memoir. Too many Americans have much harder stories to tell today, and I don’t want to grandstand.
Today, I hope we can remember to focus on our priorities before a crisis or tragedy strikes. And if our world crashes down, literally or figuratively, I hope we find ways to grow as we heal.
It’s a good day to remember. I will.