A Lesson Learned on 9/11 - Momento Mori

purpose Sep 11, 2020

I first want to share with you a Facebook post I read last night. I think it puts life in perspective.

The night before.......

On this day, 19 years ago 246 people went to sleep in preparation for their morning flights.

2,606 people went to sleep in preparation for work in the morning.

343 firefighters went to sleep in preparation for their morning shift.

60 police officers went to sleep in preparation for morning patrol.

8 paramedics went to sleep in preparation for the morning shift.

None of them saw past 10:00am Sept 11, 2001.

In one single moment life may never be the same.

As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted.

-author unknown

The tragic events of 9/11 are a reminder that each day may be our last.

"Momento mori" is an expression that I've come across in recent years. It's Latin for, "remember that you die," a reminder that everyone ends up in the same place.

Everyday brings us closer to that unknown moment. It may be today, it may be decades from now. Certainly, nobody on 9/11/01 woke up knowing the horror they would experience that day.

What you do with the knowledge that life ends, many times unexpectedly, is incredibly important. What we do with our time before can be joyful, purposeful, and meaningful or... tragic.

Will you live in fear?

Will you waste your time with inconsequential distractions?

Or, will you make the most of each day, mindful that each precious moment of success, failure, connection, and struggle is a gift.

I truly believe that the people the most afraid of death are ones that have squandered their time.

Am I afraid of death? Hell yes. I've wasted too much time. Years of living smaller than God intended, pretending to be someone I'm not, failing to fight for what I believed was right, wasting hours on end distracting myself with nonsense... Feeling sorry for my entitled self... Living without purpose.

I'm still afraid now because I know I can do more. I have more to teach my boys, I have to better prepare us financially, and I want to make a positive mark on the world in some way.

In the meantime, I'm learning to enjoy the moments I have left. I focus more on the details of my boys faces, the feeling of sun on my skin, the taste of food, and moments with my wife. Because I wasted so much of my early years, I'm more determined to make the most of each day now. So, when my day comes, I can say, "I did my best."


Heroes Come in Unexpected Forms

To this day, I'm still fascinated by the contrast in the lives of myself and my wife Lynn as we lived through 9/11.

I was currently attending my final year of college. I was a four-year US Air Force veteran and fairly comfortable in my identity as a person who chose to serve our country and about to graduate with a degree from a good school. I woke up that day to see the second plane hit the tower. Feeling the emotions that we all did, I watched the events unfold on the news and when it was time, I went to class. (Classes were canceled a few hours later.)

Lynn, on the other hand, went to work at Trinity Church right next to the towers in downtown New York City. She was a twenty-something pre-school teacher happily going about life. She had no plans on becoming a hero that day but she stepped up. It's a reminder that our character is tested at times we least expect and it can be life changing.

Her story was told on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on one of our local news stations. You can see it here.

We met just more than a year later. I didn't fully understand what she went through until this interview occurred. She still never talks about it.


Life changes fast. We never know what tomorrow will bring. Enjoy the small moments today.