I want to share my heart, along with a story, with you today. Usually I like sharing “information” posts like where to find good resources and “show and tell” posts like our field trips and lapbooks.
I’m going to do a bit of that today, but this little field trip came about in quite an unusual way.
You see, our day started off rather bleak and stressful. I just wanted to get over it. It was September 11th, the anniversary of the attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon. A day of remembrance. A day that I don’t look forward to – and I’ll tell you why.
Why I avoid social media on 9/11
Why would a military family hate 9/11? – you ask
Well – the same reason why a person who had been in any kind of trauma would not want to sit and mull over bad memories every year.
Don’t you think it is important to remember?
Yes. Of course.
But for us who have spent the last 13 years fighting the war(s) that sprang from that fateful event, there is not a week that goes by that we don’t remember.
September 11th is especially stressful for us. It was not a day that I like to remember. I was barely 19, my husband was snatched from us and we were told that he was going to war (and would not be able to come home and say goodbye). We lived on a particularly high security base and so in order to get my daughter I had to go through a full vehicle inspection by armed Marines with loaded M-16’s who were twitchy and scared. I had to show 3 forms of identification in order to get my daughter out of daycare. I spend the day and most of the night terrified. I saw my husband for all of 5 minutes that day as he grabbed his gear for war and left to wait with his unit.
Everything in the military before that day is a dream. Everything about military service changed after that day.
I know many other spouses who are “pre-9/11” spouses like me. Not all of them feel the same way when the day rolls around each year. But many of them understand the uneasy feeling, the stress, the PTSD triggers that affect soldiers and spouses alike.
Being around people, in person and on social media, seems to heighten my stress.
And now that we live on an Army post (this is the first time we’ve lived “on post” in 7+ years), we get to hear the artillery and planes flying over our heads every day. They had already started before I got up. So I just knew it was going to be a long, dreary day.
We were all on edge.
So I made a promise to the kids, I made a conscious decision. I was going to avoid the social media, the remembrances, the conspiracy theories that come out of the woodwork on this day, the personal “I was doing this on that day” stories that try to one-up each other. We were going outside, since it was a nice day, and we were going to spend time together.
Turning the day around
And so that brings us to our adventure. Determined to make something out of the doldrums, we packed a simple lunch and went to the park. We had the world to ourselves since everyone was at work or school. As we talked and played, our moods lifted and we decided to take a walk down to the creek.
The artillery and planes seemed to fade into the distance. We explored, we walked, we talked together.
We were in another world. One of wonder and peace. The sound of the creek, the buzzing of the dragonflies, the soaring of the hawks above us healed our souls.
And as we wandered around the bend, we discovered a most magical place. A place abandoned by time and civilization.
It appeared to be an old picnic area with pavilions, stone barbecues, and little cabins. Now the only sign of life was the maintenance men that used a cabin for their office.
As we reached the end of our ability to stroll, we came across a most curious set of stairs.
Where could it go? What adventure awaited us?
We have no idea why there were old stone picnic tables (long abandoned – at least by everyone other than curious teenagers) but the view was gorgeous and it was quiet and serene at the top.
So we stayed, and our hearts soared. We identified plants that had overgrown the area.
Just when we thought the day could not get any more adventurous or weird, we followed the road up around the cabins and discovered a wildlife education center!
There were rescued deer, bobcats, coyotes, quail, opossum, and more. It seems the area doesn’t get much traffic anymore, so we felt very special to have “discovered” it again.
The afternoon was waning, and our feet were tired from journeying.
We said goodbye to our special land and headed back into our regular lives – refreshed and reconnected with each other.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
-William Butler Yeats
I hope you understand that my purpose of writing this was twofold. To share my experience with dealing with a traumatic day that happens every year (and it was not avoidance – it was choosing to not dwell on negative emotions and thinking), and to show how any day can turn into a learning adventure.