My life story is the story of everyone I’ve ever met

“My life story is the story of everyone I’ve ever met.”
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

God is the only omnipresent being—the only one who can at once be with me here in an apartment in Dallas and hundreds of feet below sea level with a scuba diver in the Pacific. But in a way, we’re all everywhere. Pieces of our lives overlap and entwine and get broken off and passed on to another midway. Our life stories are made up of tinier stories and tinier stories, some so microscopic that their origin can’t be traced. Some so tiny that their outline doesn’t even look story-like at all.

•  •  •

When my sister and I were little girls, we’d play in the backyard until we heard the trash truck roll through the alley. We’d run inside and grab pieces of chocolate and deliver them to the garbage men. They learned to expect our treats and dumped our trash extra slowly to give us time to race outside. Grimy men smiling big and kind at little suburban girls in dresses. Their smiles amidst the filth was their life story—and now theirs is part of mine.

My great aunt believed she’d been abducted by aliens. She stuck by it as long as I knew her, until a cancer overtook her body and didn’t give it back. I spent one of her last summers with her, watching Fourth of July fireworks echo off mountains and chatting at country clubs and eating Red Hots from her living room. It doesn’t matter if the aliens were real—they were real to her, and she was real to me. And her life story is part of mine.

•  •  •

“My life story is the story of everyone I’ve ever met.”

And today, on this day of mourning and sorrow and remembering. On this somber day of anger and fear. On this day that marks 15 years (15 years) of mothers and fathers and sons and sisters buried—they are not forgotten. They will never be forgotten, because they will never fully leave.

Because there was a man who drummed on his steering wheel on hot summer days. And now there’s his son, grown, who’s teaching his children to feel the rhythm and to dance to it and to make drums out of anything that lends itself.

Because there was a woman who didn’t like the way she looked. She painted on too much makeup and wore heels that made her stumble. And now there’s her teenage daughter, who brushes mascara on her friends’ bright eyes before parties and buys dresses that sparkle.

Because there was a father who fed men on the corner whatever granola bar or box of leftovers he had in his car. And now there’s his wife, who prays for the homeless with her children and sometimes alone on nights when she can’t fall asleep.

Because there was a woman who’d been taught to smile at strangers, no matter who or where or why. And she taught her son who’s now teaching his daughter, and she lights up the world wherever she goes.

•  •  •

Our lives extend much farther than we know. Into different states and foreign countries. Our stories unfold not like a line but a ripple—unfurling behind and around us though we’re unaware. And they don’t disappear but break off into smaller pieces and maybe diluted pieces that are scattered to the masses, and our stories influence nations and laws and faith and families.

And today on 9/11, I remember that I was a little girl sitting on the edge of her parents’ bed staring at the TV as the second plane flew into the second tower that day, while my flight attendant mother answered phone calls and relieved voices saying, “I just had to make sure you weren’t working today.” But I also remember that my life story is the story of the terrified passengers and the oblivious businessmen and the brainwashed terrorists. My life story is the story of their children who’ve written songs and books and Facebook statuses and their friends who can’t bring themselves to visit the museum in New York. My life story is the story of Jonathan Safran Foer, whose words about 9/11 influenced the title of this blog, the quotes that come to my head, the way my eyes see the world.

My life story is the story of everyone I’ve ever met. And it’s the story of everyone who’s ever met anyone I’ve ever met. And my life story carries on the life stories of those who died 15 years ago and those who started living 15 years ago too. And they’re in these very words and in pictures and home videos and names etched in marble.

They’re a part of all our stories, and that is a beautiful thing. It’s a thing to hold onto and to sit in awe about and to remember when we look at space and blue skies and broad oceans. That we’re all here. And that Jesus died for us and connected us and gave us stories to learn and feel and share on purpose. I hope you live your story well, and I hope I do too. Because they are unique, multi-faceted things with iridescent, irreplaceable parts. Parts made of small and smaller stories that glow in the darkness and sing in the light.

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One thought on “My life story is the story of everyone I’ve ever met

  1. I am simply unable to tell you adequately how your beautiful writing stuns me and leaves me wordless. Your journals HAVE to be put into a book, somehow. Yours is a rare, incredible talent — and a rare, incredible faith.

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