September 11th

Posted on September 11, 2015

Open Letter to September 11

by Joy

Dear September 11th,

I remember the first day I met you. I can still smell the coffee on the counter. I can still hear my roommates chattering and yelling at me to turn the television on. That day we first met lingers on my mind, like a scented perfume that will never, ever, wear off.

There were stages of our relationship. Disbelief, horror, shock, despair. Vengeance, anger, confusion, concentrated attention. Sadness. Mourning. Loss. Grief. Children left parent-less. Parents left child-less. Families torn apart. Civilians torn apart. Bystanders torn apart. Service men and women torn apart. Life. Death. Humanity. Eternity. All questions collided with the planes that day, yet more questions burned in the flames unanswered.

Hello again, September 11. I knew you were coming. I decided this year I would be ready for you. I have been doing some soul searching. I have been reading. I decided I would stop reacting and start living with love, right now, where I am, in your honor.

Today, I looked at your memory and I shared love. Today, I listened to hundreds of heartbeats that made their beautiful last rhythm that day, and I played a new note for their honor. Today, I took your inflicted pain, looked it in the eyes, and decided that I would respond with love. 

In the physical body, when a cut or injury happens, the initial response of the body is to attempt to heal itself through first, vasoconstriction, and then by flooding the area with a massive amount of cells that will stick together. The area becomes hot, painful, and swollen in this initial time. This reduces blood loss and protects the body from outside influences. But the body cannot do this in the long run and still heal.

The next step is that swelling and pain is decreased, vasodilation has to happen, and the wound begins to heal, from the inside out. The amazing thing about this process, is that the body does not regenerate lost tissue, but it actually must replace it with something new and similar. There is a new growth of cellular development that would not be happening without the initial cause of the injury.

In the mental, and spiritual body, do we respond to injury the same way? This concept had me thinking this week as I began to prepare for the arrival of your visit, September 11. You are not just in the past. You are not just in the future. You have become a part of me. A new growth has occurred in my heart, mind, and spirit because of the injuries that occurred on that day.

Before you arrive, I just wanted to send this letter to you, so you can know a few things about me. First of all, I have changed. I have come to peace with the fact that I will never get over you, but I will always live better because of you. I have made my choice. Everything that you intended to harm me with, God has made for good. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “Only through the darkness can we see the stars.” While this does not mean we like the darkness, it means that I see the light which is brighter. I choose Love. Dr King’s words were as true then, as they are today:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate 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.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Strength To Love, 1963

September 11 2001, I have been healing from the inside out since we first met. Since the first time our eyes locked glances, and I fell into a trance that was so hard to escape. I did not know how healing would work, or what would come of it. But I made up my mind that no matter how painful the healing process took, that I would choose Love.

Today, I walk with my 3 children down the street. We wear handmade T-Shirts with paint drips from little, innocent hands painted and freshly imprinted. The front of the shirts say, “September 11th We Remember.” The back of the shirts say, “We LOVE.”

Minds that do not yet know of hate, or vengeance, or politics, or war, carry handmade cards with hearts squiggled on their covers. Small footsteps, that tenderly walk this gift of earth, follow my footsteps with full trust, full surrender, fully modeling my actions. We walk together, and in the rhythmic pitter-patter of my children’s feet, I hear a familiar heartbeat. In fact, I begin to hear hundreds of heartbeats. Heartbeats not lost. Heartbeats not torn apart. Heartbeats not fallen, nor surrendered, nor broken. Heartbeats of those who have already met you, September 11th, yet, choose to LOVE. 

We carry those heartbeats with us. Up the front steps of the Police Station, the Fire Station, and the Military Center on our block. We ring the bell. With jam and toast still stuck on their purely innocent faces, smiles turn to laughter, laughter turns to joy, and joy turns to LOVE as we greet our local servicemen and women.

These servicemen and women, who are another person’s parents and children, open the cards, and read these words: “September 11 We Remember” on the outside and “We Choose LOVE” on the inside. Gift cards fall out of them, as freshly baked dinners are brought into the station. “What is this for?!” the service men and women exclaim. They open their gifts, and a new process begins to happen, that never would have existed, without the pain of the initial injury.

Just like to accomplish full healing in the body, a new process is started, with new tissues, that never would have been present before, so did we decide to make a choice, for Love to begin the same transformation in our lives. A new process started. A new healing. From the inside out. Looking around that room, hearing the heartbeats thundering in a new unity of love, I realized something. September 11, I had to write you this letter to let you know.

I am better because of you. Love has made me a new creation. There is a new goodness and capacity for love in me that goes deeper, reaches farther, and can climb higher than ever before. Because of the depth of the wounds that are being healed in me, I am not afraid to love. In fact, I run towards it with the last breath in my soul. This year, I am not afraid to greet you. I am not afraid to wrap my arms around the unforgettable scent of you, because the truth is, you do not define me. I am defined in every breath I take, by one choice I make, that you can never take away from me. One choice I make, that can never be silenced, nor weakened, nor threatened, nor manipulated, nor covered, nor stopped. 

So before you arrive again this year September 11, please make sure you read my letter and understand. I know we haven’t seen each other in a year, but you need to know, I have made my choice. 

I choose LOVE.
















Me and My House

~ This letter is written in honor of every human life that was lost on September 11, 2001. Your heartbeats that were silenced were a true, historic, tragedy, that we as a people will never forget. Yet, we are not broken. As we heal our heartbeats are beautiful, united, and strong. We Remember. We LOVE. 


The King Center: Strength to Love by Dr Martin Luther King Jr @

Lovearthnetwork: Strength to Love by Dr Martin Luther King Jr @

DM Medical: How Wounds Heal @

sept 11 2

September 11

Author Joy Brownlee. Written and Photography copyrights
to Joy Brownlee @ for the photos bearing Joy's watermark.

4 thoughts on “September 11th

  1. Too many tears to say much right now, except thank you. I have just been putting out the red, white and blue of love …..and thinking, thinking, and you put all my thinking into deep words.

  2. How beautiful. I love your analogy and I love that you spread love on September 11th in honor of the thousands lost and even those still suffering in the wake. It’s hard to know how to explain something like this to innocent children. So awesome that you made t-shirts and cards and took them to see/meet the service men and women! Amazing. I remember that morning, too – my mom calling me and telling me we are under attack and to turn on the news. Watching the second plane crash in a state of disbelief. Realizing what was happening and not knowing what to do, so I filled my car with gas on the way to class. It was my junior year of college. We all sat in class not knowing what to do or say, including the professor. Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day and I went to work since hospitals never close, as you know! Listened to the radio with my transcriptionist coworkers and then went home glued to the TV with my roommates, still in disbelief. Watching families search for their loved ones and trying to make sense of something nonsensical. Thanks for writing this beautiful letter! I cry every year.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I realized I wanted to and could do something to help with the healing process after we went to New York and visited some family of ours living in the area. The wounds are still so fresh and so real, and it is ok to accept the process of healing. I just realized a way as a family, we could help make the world better for our healing, and for others sorrow. Spark a light and even in the darkness it shines. Thanks for posting. ~ Joy

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