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From the editor: Second Chances

This month marks the third anniversary of the terrible fall day that each of us remembers so vividly. Like other shattering events, we can recall exactly what we were doing, who we were with, and how we felt on September 11.

This month marks the third anniversary of the terrible fall day that each of us remembers so vividly. Like other shattering events, we can recall exactly what we were doing, who we were with, and how we felt on September 11. Nothing since the assassination of President Kennedy has affected me so deeply. Even after being in Dallas at least eight times, most recently at the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) meeting this past June, I have never been able to bring myself to visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. However, last June after the ADHA meeting in New York, I was able to visit Ground Zero to pay my respects. I was overwhelmed with the enormity of the senseless loss of lives and property.

I had been in New York with my husband and two sons just 3 weeks before 9/11. We went to the Stock Exchange and then to the World Trade Center. We planned to go to the top and have dinner at Windows on the World. The boys were tired and wanted to rest before we went to a Broadway show that night. They said, “We already went to the top of the Empire State Building today. We don’t need to see the view again.” I had never been to Windows on the World so I said with disappointment, “Oh well, we’ll come back another time. It will always be here.”

Last month, my husband and I went to New Zealand and Australia because I was the speaker for the New Zealand Dental Hygienists’ Association Annual Meeting and also for the Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia. When I was the speaker for these same two organizations 8 years ago, I did not bring my family with me because I did not want to take the boys out of school and I thought, “I can always bring them with me again another time.” As it turned out, our older son could not go with us this time because he has a new job. Our younger son is playing Junior Varsity football and could not miss the August practices. I wish I had taken them on that trip years ago when I had the chance.

We can never predict what will happen or what opportunities we might miss in life. So with each passing day, I realize how important it is to live in the moment and make every effort to not put things off, especially if it involves spending time with my family.

September 11 has forever changed our country and our outlook on ourselves and the world. Whatever naivete or innocent trust we had is unfortunately gone. However, the most significant positive effect it has had, I believe, is to strengthen our values in terms of family and the importance of cherishing our time with loved ones.

Like all that was lost in such a short time on that fateful day, we each lose a little bit when we pass up any chance to be with our spouses, our children, our parents, our relatives, or our friends. Let us all turn this terrible tragedy into a hopeful pledge to dedicate ourselves to making the most of our time with our family and friends. Let us tell them in our words and in our deeds how much we love them and how much they mean to us every chance that we get.

–Anna M. Pattison, RDH, MS, editor in chief

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