I’m one of the lucky ones who doesn’t know anyone affected by the 9/11 tragedy. It’s hard to believe that it was 12 years ago.

I’m one of the lucky ones who doesn’t know anyone affected by the Marathon bombings. It’s hard to believe that it was almost five months ago.

People whose lives have been affected by these tragedies—by any tragedy—must draw upon their resilience to grieve and then move on. Whether they lost a loved one or were seriously injured, their life is forever altered. They grieve and move on to honor what their life once was. They are a reminder that you never know what life is going to throw at you. A reminder that all we really have is today. This moment.

Today I read about the survivor tree near Ground Zero in NYC. I don’t remember hearing about it in the aftermath of 9/11. But this tree, which was severely damaged, was found during the cleanup. It was relocated to the Bronx in order to be given a chance to recover, to grow again. The tree grew about 20 feet and has been returned to Ground Zero.

And today, seedlings from this tree were presented to three communities that have recently had their resilience tested: Boston; Prescott, Arizona; and Far Rockaways in NYC. I think it’s a beautiful symbol.


Last Sunday, I witnessed thousands of people celebrating and displaying a fierce resilience. Last Sunday, I walked to raise funds for cancer research. Many walkers wore personalized T-shirts with photos of people they’ve lost or people who are currently fighting the disease. Many walkers were survivors who wore buttons reading “I’m Living Proof.” And I was not prepared for this: many walkers were walking for their children who have cancer.

I guess I haven’t thought much about pediatric cancer, because it hasn’t affected me. Many of my friends and acquaintances are dealing with cancer in some way…but they are all adults. When I saw a child who was maybe a year old with her parents, who held flags with her photo on it, I thought, how could this be? A young man of 12 or 13 spoke during the event program. He spoke of getting cancer at 9 years of age and going through two years of chemo. It’s hard enough for adults to be resilient when faced with cancer. How do children, and their parents, cope?

It was an educational and empowering experience. Our thoughts were also with the Marathon bombing victims and their families as we walked the last few miles of the Boston Marathon route.

The day wasn’t all about fierce resilience and reflection…it was fun too! I walked with two friends who have been personally affected by cancer in numerous ways. I’m glad to have shared this experience with them.


jfw 6
Team Higgins 2013



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