Having just returned from a whirlwind visit to the Ohel of the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l landing and departing out of JFK Airport, what caught my attention after four years of non travel was the mass of humanity going through the security on their way to various destinations. However, what was more poignant to me was my reflection on the day on which four airplanes did not safely reach their destination due to terrorist strikes which occurred on the infamous date of September 11. And the main subject which dominated my reflection was the story surrounding the crash of United 93.
A Quick Reference to United 93
As I wrote in a prior blog entitled Tzom Gedaliah and United 93- Triumphs over Hatred ,the story of United 93 is detailed by the Flight 93 Friends in an article named The Story of 9/11 and United 93. The Story was also the subject of various movies and documentaries.
What the various media accounts demonstrate is that the hijackers who were four al-Qaeda terrorists on board had the same determination of diverting a commercial airline to reach a national landmark and cause the greatest victory for terrorism. In the case of United 93, the destination was the Nation’s Capital.
Last Exchanges of Love from United 93
My real fascination as I referenced in this week’s blog “9/11 and 25th of Elul – Building Love and Peace” were the last exchanges of conversation which those passengers on the ill-fated airplane had with their spouses or loved ones. What was surprising was the fact that the passengers were actually able to make telephone calls from the high jacked planes to the loved ones without interference by the terrorists. And what was the main refrain from the conversations were the repeated exchanges of “I love you.”
For example, the wife of one the Jewish passengers who perished in the crash , Jeremy Glick, Lyz Glick was at her parents’ home in New York as she and Jeremy, 30, wailed, repeatedly telling each other “I love you”. Several of the movies about the crash of United 93 captured those tender heartbreaking moments.
In the case of another passenger who perished, Todd Beamer, he requested from the telephone supervisor with whom he had connected from the plane the following message:
“In case I don’t make it through this, would you please do me a favor and call my wife and my family and let them know how much I love them.”
Passenger Lauren Grandcolas, another victim, was traveling from her grandmother’s funeral, but she had reason to be happy: after years of trying, she was pregnant with her first child.
Grandcolas message to her spouse was: “I’m totally fine, I just love you more than anything, just know that. And you know, I’m, you know, I’m comfortable and I’m okay… for now. Just a little problem. So I just love you, please tell my family I love them too. Bye, honey.”
And these conversations are just samples of ones identical in content from passengers not only on United 93, but also from loved ones of those lives who were severed from the events of September 11.
What Would Your Last Words Be?
In these last days of the month of Elul leading up to Rosh Hashanah, we are urged to reflect on our behavior over the past year and especially to reflect on our relationship with our loved ones. That is why of all months where marital relationships would be front and center and given such heartbreaking prominence by the passengers of United 93 – it is not surprising to be Elul.
So in keeping with the spirit of Elul, it would behoove those of us in a marital or bonded relationship to contemplate that in a G-d forbid disaster what would be our last words?
And if there is any doubt as to whether or not they would comprise in its core, the sentiments of “I love you”, then the time is now to start investing in your relationship as a priority goal for the coming year. And even if they would at the moment constitute the expression of choice, having as a goal the rededication to your loved ones as the “bucket list” for the year is a successful way to depart from Elul into Rosh Hashanah.
Some Suggestions for the Coming Year
In truth the ways to invest in one’s relationships could be plentiful – with a myriad of courses and books available – all under the banner of Marriage Education.
Marriage education was defined in detail in this week’s blog: “ 9/11 and 25th of Elul – Building Love and Peace.”
No Guarantees So Make Today Count
We have no guarantees as to what this year will bring in health and in our security, but we owe it to ourselves to make our loved ones our focus for building and maintaining our homes as the bastion of stability and harmony and to make this farewell to Elul be a commitment to our future and uncompromised expressions of LOVE.
Wishing you a Shana tova and abundant opportunities for Giving and receiving LOVE