9/11 is a strange day for me. It's a day that once was filled with laughter, love and joy each year, and now is forever marked by tragedy. I experience a myriad of emotions each year, and one that often resonates heavily is guilt.

I struggle with wanting to celebrate my birthday. I know it's a day of remembrance, and I do feel compelled to honor those lives that were lost. It never fails, on 9/11, friends and strangers will tell me where they were when I realized that terrifying and unexplained events were happening in our country.

Yesterday I saw a post floating around on social media that detailed how 17 years ago on Sept. 10, life was normal, and no one knew what would transpire the next morning. We still don't know what will take place later today or tomorrow, but this post urged friends to love each other. I don't know where it originate to give credit to the person who originally shared this post, but here's my personal reflection following that post:

On this day... 17 years ago 246 people went to sleep in preparation for their morning flights. 2,606 people went to sleep in preparation for work in the morning tomorrow. 343 firefighters went to sleep in preparation for their morning shift. 60 police officers went to sleep in preparation for morning patrol. 8 paramedics went to sleep in preparation for the morning shift of saving lives. None of them saw past 10:00am Sept 11, 2001. In one single moment life may never be the same. As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted.

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Never forget.

Love harder. ❤️

Personal: On this day 17 years ago, I went to sleep anticipating my 18th birthday.

A day of personal celebration, that will forever be marked by tragedy. I experienced a different kind of fear that day.

I feared for my life, and those of my peers. I remember there was so much we didn’t know or understand at the time, there was panic, confusion, pain, fear and tragic loss.

On a day that began for me with birthday gifts, and song, it ended in tears and confusion. I also found a focus and passion for photography that day. I went around documenting reactions on our high school campus with my camera for our journalism department.

Life is so strange. Dramatic change can happen at any moment.

Be kind. Be patient. Show grace and love💕