It has been almost fifteen years since we were all stunned and shocked by the events that happened on September 11, 2001. We will always remember where we were and what we were doing. When the topic of 9/11 finds its way into our conversations we are compelled to share our own stories. We patiently listen to each other as we relate what we were doing that day. It's a sad moment of remembrance and then we move on to our next topic of conversation. 

Fifteen years ago, after 9/11, I went to Falls Church, Virginia (on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.) and spent three weeks at an American Red Cross call center. I spoke with loved ones of family members who died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the airliners that crashed being used as weapons of mass destruction. I listened to the stories of what happened to their spouses, siblings, parents, and children. And, then I brought them a tiny measure of hope by providing much needed financial assistance, which had been generously donated by people from throughout the United States.

The stories of these family members remain with me; and continue to affect me each year.

It begins in August. I start getting crabby easily. In the early years after 9/11 I wouldn't understand why this crabbiness happened. Now, I'm used to it. And I have to work hard to hide it. Though, I'm not always successful; and Craig will point it out to me. I get irritable because petty annoyances seem so insignificant to what happened to almost three thousand families in one morning. It's a poor excuse. When I remind Craig it's because 9/11 is coming again. He kindly mentions that it might be helpful for me to talk to someone. Maybe I should seek out a counselor. But I know I'll be fine once September 12th arrives.

It's not just the crabbiness. I also begin to have nightmares. Not really bad ones, just unsettling, haunting memories of unhappy dreams that wake me in the night which I quickly forget as soon as I get up in the morning. But I know they were there.

Then the tears begin. I will spontaneously begin to tear-up for no apparent reason. Mostly my eyes just water, and I quickly divert my unhappy thoughts to something different and uplifting. Less often its full out crying and sobbing as I think about the many families suffering loss and sadness. I have many good things happening in my life right now; so maybe the distractions of my busy life will help to keep these emotions at bay this year.

We just ended two wonderful weeks with my Florida daughters and grandkids visiting. There were lots of fun family events, much laughter, go carting, water parks, shared meals, and many games of scrabble. I have also recently finished my book. Now it will be edited and I will be improving it. I'm busy preparing our home in Allenton for sale. And, we are almost finished with building a new home in Mauston. With all of these great things happening, I hope I will be distracted enough to avoid thinking about the events of 9/11/2001 and the families I was able to assist. I imagine my minor reactions as September 11th approaches are as nothing compared to what each of the families who lost loved ones face.

Remembrance - The last chapter of my book will be written after I return from New York in mid-September. While in New York City, helping after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I had the opportunity on my day off to visit St. Paul's Chapel. This quaint historic church sits at the base of where the World Trade Center buildings collapsed. It miraculously survived unharmed. For over a year it was a place of respite for the many volunteers helping search for people buried in the rubble.

When I visited this church in 2012 I came across a poem that I included in my daily journals that I kept while deployed after Hurricane Sandy. In order to put the poem in my book I needed to get permission from the author. Once I found him, he not only gave me permission to use his poem, he graciously invited me to New York for the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 at St. Paul's Chapel, just across the street from the 9/11 memorial. I'm honored to be attending this memorial service. When I return from my trip I will write the final chapter of my book titled Remembrance. Hopefully this final act will be cathartic and allow me to move on and avoid my emotional mood fluctuations every August.

Every September 11th since 2001, my daughters and other family call me to see how I'm doing. I deeply appreciate their concern.

My Blog writings provide a peek into my book "Bringing Hope: A Disaster Relief Journey." I will try to keep you updated with the next steps. I know the editing process is just around the corner. Then I will try to find an agent who will help me find a publisher. If things don't work and I don't end up with a publisher, I know that I have a strong story for my grandchildren and will have copies printed for them and other family and friends.

Thank you for being a part of my journey as my book progresses through its process.