Several months ago, a good friend mentioned that she had been asked to serve as a bridesmaid for her niece’s upcoming wedding. The date? Sept. 11, 2021.
I’d be lying if I said that the date didn’t give me pause, just as I’m sure it would almost anyone old enough to remember the horrific attacks on our country nearly 20 years ago. And while I would certainly never say this to a bride planning one of most special events of her life, I wondered why anyone would want to be married on a day that will be forever linked with such unimaginable tragedy.
As it turns out, I later learned, most people don’t in fact want to be married on that day. But with the pandemic having forced the postponement of so many weddings — and Sept. 11 falling on a Saturday this year — many young couples have decided that they would rather have that wedding date than no wedding date at all. According to a recent article in the New York Times, many brides have chosen to acknowledge that the situation is not ideal but to move forward anyway.
Reading over a few more articles and blog posts devoted to this very topic, I slowly began to feel as though the choices facing these young brides and grooms, many of whom were young children in 2001, are not that different from the ones most of us grapple with when it comes to our relationship to any tragedy.
At what point do we move from mourning to living again? When is it OK to laugh again, to celebrate again, to get mad over silly things that don’t matter? When is it OK for a date to be just a date and not a monument to the unthinkable?
The truth, I suppose, is that it is all so personal. It is the calculus of mourning, and often time is the only way to reach an answer.
Surviving and moving forward, after all, is what humans do. It’s what all living things are hardwired to do. We heal, we repair, we pick ourselves up and move forward, sometimes binding our wounds as we go. We get married, we have babies, we get promotions and mortgages and mark birthdays and mourn the ones we go before us. We never forget but we forge ahead. It’s what we do.
This Saturday, as millions of Americans solemnly mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, I think I’ll also be taking a moment to think of those babies who will inevitably be born and couples who will choose to commit to each other. If the aim of those who attacked us was to bring us to our knees, then what better answer could there be than getting up, moving forward and embracing life again.
None of us should ever forget the sacrifices made on that day so many years ago. Perhaps choosing to live our own lives to the fullest is the best way we can honor them.