As September 11, 2003 approaches, I’m inclined to painfully reflect more deeply on the past two years. The heartfelt loss of my beautiful daughter, Alicia, on that fateful day has been unbearable as the pain consumes me daily. Yet somehow we trudge onward one day at a time toward an unknown future. Caring people often say to me, “I don’t know how you go on”. And there are times when I question whether or not I can go on. I yearn for release from the pain.
Grief is an active, painstaking process. It requires every ounce of energy one can muster and courage beyond compare. It needs love to sustain its course toward healing and it demands truth to lend direction. There is no escape from its all-encompassing hold, for the only true path to healing is through the very heart of grief. I could not do it alone!
Over the years I have developed a strong belief in a wise and loving God. And, that faith gives me hope, strength and courage in times of despair. But it does not lessen the searing pain, the deep sadness, the forlornness or the heartache that I feel each moment of each day since Alicia’s death. During the last two years, I have shed a river of tears and in some ways it gives me relief. But the pain is always with me.
Somehow, through it all, I have been given many gifts, including the gift of heartfelt compassion and the blessing of forgiveness. I realized immediately after Alicia’s death that I must learn to forgive those responsible or the anger would consume me like a cancer. Forgiveness is a gift that one gives himself and in no way implies sanction of the others action. Forgiveness is a letting go of those feelings that long to consume you with a twisted grief filled with hate and revenge. I could not allow that to happen! That is not who I am and it would not bring my Alicia back. It would only destroy me in the end.
Throughout my journey of grief, true compassion has come into my heart with a longing for expression. Through compassion I have a renewed sense of purpose toward peace; a peace that recognizes the oneness of life and is beyond the false sense of peace attained by the mere absence of war. Working for peace and justice in a world that seems so inept in both has given new meaning to my life. For this is what my dear sweet Alicia was all about. And, this is what the Divine would have for us.
Alicia came to us on June 11, 1973. Conceived on September 11, 1972, she was always actively working for peace and justice. Her compassion for others and her reverence for all of life were astounding. But her true gift to others was the radiant joy that she brought with her to share with everyone she came in contact. She gave her essence to all who could perceive, like a beautiful rose on a warm sunny day. Her presence would light up a room and her smile has been described as “a smile by which to measure all other smiles”. She was effervescent, fully alive, genuinely loving and wizened beyond her 28 years. Many felt that Alicia was an “old soul” because of her deep wisdom and constant search for truth to direct the course of her love.
Alicia lived her life with a sense of knowing that it would be cut short, fully alive in each moment and making the most of what life had to offer. She was nonjudgmental in her dealings with others and always forgiving of those who wronged her. If she was alive today she would be appalled at the senseless killing of innocent people brought on by war and she would be actively seeking peaceful ways to resolve world conflicts. Why? Because it is the essence of divine love guided by truth. It is the only way if we are to survive and flourish as a human race. The needless killing of my daughter and the other 3000 victims of September 11th, along with the subsequent killing of the innocent children of Afghanistan and Iraq must cease! The vicious cycle of war, the devastation of countries and the killing of innocent people must stop before we destroy all that is of God that is good and true.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so poignantly summarized this as follows:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate only multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
But, what can we do? How can we change the course of history? How can we stop the barbaric push toward war that is etched in power and greed? There’s a book on the market by William Rivers Pitt entitled, “The Greatest Sedition is Silence”. I’ve ordered the book because the author has a way of smacking truth in the face of the lies and deceit that are used to justify an unjust war and the subsequent killing of thousands of innocent people. It is seditious and undemocratic to blindly accept the partial truths, the blatant lies and the overt deception without question that the Bush administration has inundated us with to justify taking away our basic civil rights as Americans, to justify the rush to war with Iraq for deceptive reasons and to cover up the truth about September 11 and the killing of my daughter… I want to know the truth! The families of the victim’s of September 11th deserve the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God!
What can we do? We can actively seek the truth; demand honesty and integrity from our leaders; hold our elected officials accountable by expressing our thoughts and learned opinions with them; speak out to those we come in contact with; send letters to the editors; attend a peace rally; participate in internet discussions and actions; do something, for God’s sake!
If you choose to do nothing to help change things for the better, to find nonviolent means to end conflict, to break down the walls that alienate and divide, to feed and clothe all the children of the world, to provide health care for the poor and suffering, to make a difference in an unjust world…it could be your child who suffers or dies at the hands of someone whom we have oppressed, threatened, or harmed in some way. I pray that no one has to be made to feel the pain my family and I have suffered since the senseless murder of our sweet Alicia. I pray for “Peaceful Tomorrows” for us all.
Yours in Peace,
Father of Alicia