In the first days after 9/11, when the skies were silent and the country was grieving, it felt as if time had stopped. The days passed, but each one somberly echoed the one before, the same and alike.
Then, the word came that the skies would reopen, and the planes could fly. My colleagues and I went outside to watch and cheer as one of the first rolled down the runway and made its way into the clouds.
That one communal event didn’t change what had happened, didn’t fix what had come before. It didn’t negate the horrified sadness that seemed to be everywhere. Grief is not something that can be managed on a calendar or put on a timetable for healing. Those emotions, especially on a scale that existed after 9/11, must be allowed to occur as necessary, to come in waves, small and large, in bits and pieces, minutes and memories; a collective experience that is manifested in millions of individual, personal moments.
That shared occasion did do something important, however. It recognized a first. It honored a symbolic start. It celebrated the beginning of an ending.
I thought about those days this morning as I read about the trucks rolling out on their way to deliver the first doses of vaccine.
What’s onboard those trucks cannot make what’s come before disappear. Their contents won’t solve all of the challenges or take away all of the pain. There is no quick fix.
Those trucks do, however, carry a beginning.
Here’s to the start of hope. And, here’s to all those who are doing what’s needed to help the world move forward.