Person: Your birthday is on 9/11? I'm so sorry.
Ryan: (with a forced laugh) Well hey, no one forgets it!
Person: Well it's fine, thankfully you were born many years before that day.
This is typically how the dialogue goes when people find out about my birthday. Its true, I was born nine years before the World Trade Center collapsed, but I assure you, I don't remember much before I was nine years old.
Growing up on Long Island, It's a miracle to say that I did not have any personal losses that day seeing as I don't have to look far to find someone who did. But if there's anything I learned, it was to appreciate the people and moments you do have.
That morning for me, a third-grader, was strange because while riding the bus to school the driver had the radio on full blast, which she never did and it wasn't music as usual.
My mom dropped off Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins so we could celebrate my birthday after recess. The teachers were quiet at school. They were instructed not to say anything. Kids were losing loved ones that day. My best friend Kyle, the know-it-all he was teased me about how no one was going to celebrate my birthday. One-by-one parents were pulling children out of school. Kyle would count down the number of students left. By the half point of students remaining, I remember thinking "God I hope Kyle goes next."
After school, I ended up having an italian dinner at Cafe Amici's with my grandparents and the entire restaurant singing happy birthday to me. All the while, replays of the plane strike ran on a television set behind the bar.
In the months before 9/11, my mother tried to get some family members to do a dinner cruise together. She thought it would be cool to do a trip around the manhattan skyline as a night out in the city. Life got in the way and people decided they were too busy. That dinner cruise was scheduled for September 10th, 2001. They missed out on the last sunset around the world trade center before it came down.
If there's anything I have learned from the anniversary of this tragedy its that you can't take anything for granted. Enjoy the moments you have with your loved ones, be there for those in pain, and continue to celebrate life every day. Birthdays are celebrated to remind us how far we've come and to keep moving. I enjoy the opportunity I have to be with loved ones, not only because they may not be there tomorrow but because I am lucky to have them in my life in the first place.