Jessica Ashley facebook twitter babble voices pinterest is a single mama in the city, super-savvy editor, writer, video host and shameless shoe whore.
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Mama Likey

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Just as I was five years ago, I am engrossed.

I am having a hard time turning off the TV, turning away from the stories, the updates and the analysis. I am having a hard time moving on with my day and looking past the people left behind on September 11th -- the widows and children, the partners and fiancees, the friends and bosses and many, many loved ones who lost loved ones. I am having a hard time going about the business of daily life.

And yet, daily living is the thing that I imagine all of those grieving people miss most. It goes without saying that there is much to miss and mourn during the big and shining moments, the walking down the aisle and the emergence of a new life, the toasts at Thanksgiving and retirements, the shredding of too many gifts at the holidays and quiet stillness at significant anniversaries. But I imagine that there continues to be many dull aches in the details of a Monday morning cup of coffee, a walk home from school on a rainy fall day, the quick kiss goodnight, the back-and-forth of where to order carry-out in the neighborhood.

In the five years since September 11th crashed into our lives, I became a wife and had a child. Now that I am a parent, I get it all much more. Just like I did during Hurricane Katrina, during the tsunami, during the aftermath of the last presidential election, I am so much more invested.

My God, I think, what if that was me? My child? The love of my life? My God.

One summer in my college years, I was working as an intern at a television station. On a day off, I was in a bad car accident, rolling my car three times in a grassy median and amazingly, walking away with only a cut on my forehead. Still running on adrenaline, I went into work the next day. The producers I worked with were kind and sent me home to rest. My hard-edged mentor stopped me on my way out.

"When I heard about your accident," she said, touching my arm, having never made any kind of friendly contact with me before, "my heart bled for you."

I was so struck by this at the time. And today, this scene came to mind. My heart bled for you. This image felt so full of pain and sympathy at the time. Yet, every single day, the blood goes in and out of hearts over and over and over again, a physiological detail so quiet, so engrained that we rarely give it any thought.

I thought of all those people at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, building up necessary scar tissue, remembering and healing, longing and going about living, with hearts bleeding for the boring, relentless gifts of everyday life.

Today, after the moments of silence and the photo retrospectives, I sent my prayers out to the world and to the many souls and survivors of September 11th. I said my prayers for peace in the world, not just for the Arab American mother adding roses and tears to the reflecting pool, but for the Arab mothers on the other side of the globe who has lost her own children to the war.

With one last prayer of thanks for my husband, our beautiful boy, and the blessings of our daily lives, I wrapped my toddler in a jacket and hat, rolled up his pants and went outside to stomp in puddles and play in the rain.

As my boy giggled and sang, splashed in slight puddles and took notice of the leaves papering the sidewalk, I felt it all swell up inside of me.

My God, I thought, this is living.

And this living, I think, is the best memorial there is.

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