Dr. Marry and Me,  Parenting,  Personal Writing

A day of loss, LEGO and (the start of) love

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was one of those late summer days that help you endure the brutal, long winters we have in North Dakota. The sky was Robin’s egg blue, the glorious clouds were like cotton balls glued on to construction paper and the sun was shining, reaching every nook and cranny of our apartment.

I had survived taking my son to his first day of Kindergarten. And now we were three or so weeks into the ritual of school mornings.

Eighteen years ago, Quinn and I were getting ready to walk to school. We were switching back and forth between Dragon Tails and Good Morning America. I had it on GMA when I heard Don Dahler saying, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” I ran in to the living room in time to see the second plane crash in to the tower. 

Everything changed in that moment. My brother lives in NYC, and while I was certain he was safe, it was unsettling to not be able to reach him. It was horrifying to watch people emerging from the ash like zombies. I couldn’t stop watching but I couldn’t stand to see it either.

We walked to Quinn’s school almost in a daze, and I went to teach my class at Concordia. I gave up trying to run a regular class, and we went to find a television to watch the horrors together. Time moved so slowly that morning.

But that was the morning.

In the evening, I suppose because everything seemed so surreal, I decided to meet Dr Andrew Mazz Marry for the first time in person. I had spoken to him on the phone a few weeks earlier when our mutual friend Peter called me from Duffy’s bar to tell me to “come and meet someone.” In lieu of leaving my five year old in bed alone (never a consideration!), we talked on the phone. He swore like, well, like an Irishman, but he ended the call by saying, “Alright Lass. I’ll speak to you soon.” I was done for.

He met us at our house for ice cream. I opened the door, and without missing a beat, Dr Marry stepped over a giant pile of LEGO–a constant in our living room at the time. Quinn made him a yellow paper crown that he wore happily until I put Quinn to bed. I just remember feeling like anyone who was going to be a serious contender in my life needed to understand that this was what he was signing up for. Dr Marry was doing very well so far.

We stayed up long in to the night talking and throwing a Nerf football back and forth (I know—weird, huh?!?) I found him more than interesting; beyond well traveled; incredibly smart; pretty darn good looking; and that accent…enough said. Time moved so quickly that evening.

Eighteen years later, that morning and evening are still fresh in my mind. Every detail is fixed; every emotion is, in many ways, still just under the surface. I am so grateful that the end of that day led to what we have today. The LEGO, the yellow crown and a Nerf football began what has been a fabulous journey.

My sweet little evening in no size, shape or form negates the horrors of that morning, but it does remind me that we live in a constant state of good and bad, happy and sad, love and loss. One might not outweigh the other, but together, they make up our lives.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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