This morning, I make this post in honour of Kenneth Charles Ledee, who was lost in the WTC on 9/11. Ken was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, an uncle, a cherished friend. He was a man of faith and integrity and he is deeply missed.
This also in honour Ken's family, especially his parents, my dear and precious friends Carlos & Anna. Our friendship is a true miracle and I am grateful every day for having them in my life.
I met the Ledees through an international quilt project to honour the victims of 9/11. It took alot of research online to find even the tiniest piece of information about their son, which was an article written by a minister at Princeton who was Ken's childhood friend. I wrote him an email, telling him who I was and that I wanted nothing more than to know a bit about who Ken was so I could create a quilt block to honour his memory. I never dreamed he would pass this email on to Ken's family nor that they would answer it.
About a week later, I came home late from the crisis line and was unable to sleep so I logged onto my computer and checked my emails. There was one there from Ken's family and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever read. It talked about Ken's life and it was clear to me how deeply he was loved. The next morning, I reread the email and it was only then I realized that it had come from Ken's father. (I had mistakenly assumed that C. Ledee was Ken's mother.) Suddenly that letter became all the more poignant. In my experience, it's rare for a man to be so raw and honest about his love for his children and here Ken's dad had shown me quite clearly how deep his love for Ken was. That letter was the very beginning of our friendship, one that would transcend all kinds of differences between us and lead me to travel to NYC in the summer of 2004 to finally meet Ken's family. Our time together was precious and life altering for me.
And so today, my thoughts turn to the survivors of 9/11, those left behind to try and pick up their lives and carry on. If I have learned anything from the hundreds of emails that have gone back and forth between the Ledees and I, it's about the resiliency of the human spirit and the power of love and faith. I know that for the survivors, the pain will never go away but by sheer virtue of remembering with them, each one of us helps to strengthen their spirits.
I wanted to share with you some of the quotes I chose to put on the back of the quilt I made in the days that followed 9/11 to help me to cope with how I felt about what was happening. This quilt hangs in my home as a tribute to all who were lost that day.
"How wonderful the way in which, with quite ordinary folk, power leaps to our aid in any time of emergency. We lead timid lives, shrinking from difficult tasks till perhaps we are forced in to them and immediately we seem to unlock the unseen forces. When we have to face danger, then courage comes, when trial puts a long-continued strain upon us we find ourselves possessed by the power to endure; if when disaster ultimately brings the fall which we so long dreaded, we feel underneath us the strength of everlasting arms. Common experience teaches that, when great demands are made upon us, if we fearlessly accept the challenge and confidently expend our strength, every danger or difficulty brings its own strength-"As thy days so shall thy strength be."
"Hold onto what is good, even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold onto what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold onto what you must do even if it is a long way from here.
Hold onto life even when it is easier letting go.
Hold onto my hand, even when I have gone away from you."
~Native American Prayer
"Sorrow comes in great waves but it rolls over us and though it may almost smother us, it leaves us. We know that if it is strong, we are stronger inasmuch as it passes and we remain."
"We pray for the power to be gentle;
The strength to be forgiving;
The patience to be understanding;
And the endurance to accept the consequences
Of holding what we believe to be right.
May we put our trust in
The power of good to overcome evil
And the power of love
To overcome hatred.
We pray for the vision to see
And the faith to believe in a world
Emancipated from violence,
A new world where fear
Shall no longer lead men to commit injustice,
Nor selfishness make them
Bring suffering to others.
Help us to devote our whole life
And thought and energy
To the task of making peace,
Praying always for the inspiration
And the power to fulfill the destiny
For which we were created."
"O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us, remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering-our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all of this. And when thjudgmento judgement let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness."
"Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear but around us in awareness." ~James Thurber
*Photo taken in Middle Village, NY, summer 2004.