9/11 Memories:From the Vault: Beauty Beyond the Ashes: Overcoming Circumstances

From the Vault: Beauty Beyond the Ashes: Overcoming Circumstances

Cheryl’s Story

When I was 16 I met a young man and fell in love.  As I have said on many occasions, Tom was my high school sweetheart. Our relationship blossomed through high school and college.

Tom McGuinnessTom and I married soon after I graduated from college, just knowing that we would live happily ever after. Tom progressed in the Navy as a Top Gun fighter pilot flying F14’s and I advanced in my own career. We were blessed with two wonderful children and it just got better and better.

Tom and I were Bible study leaders. Our family had much joy, peace and contentment and it flowed into all parts of our lives. Everything was fine. I was a normal woman living a very happy life. I never pictured that our dream would suddenly become a nightmare. I never imagined that our peaceful life would be completely shattered.

On September 11th, Tom gave me a kiss goodbye and left for work.  Little did I know that I would never see him again. He was to pilot American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles that day.

As the horror of that day unfolded, I quickly realized that I needed God more than ever before. I was devastated – searching for answers that didn’t exist – terrified at the prospect that Tom would not be coming home.

As I have spoken with people around the country I have come to realize that while my tragedy was in many ways unique to me, many of the feelings – the hurt, the loss, the anger, concern for my family – are shared by so many others. In fact, I dare say that all of us will, unfortunately, at some time in our lives experience what I call time in the pit – that time when you feel absolutely lost, alone, afraid and devastated. It may result from the loss of a loved one, divorce, issues with children, career problems or any of the hundreds of other life issues that we all deal with.

Cheryl and Tom McGuinnessWhat do we do with the pain that results from tragedies in our lives? How do we move beyond them? I have learned how to hope again. Drawing daily from the foundation of faith that Tom and I held together, I have found my footing; He has rebuilt my life.

We have all been impacted by September 11th. Security, peace, safety – things we all took for granted – become casualties of that infamous day. Every life endures saddness and loss. But my story is that no matter what you have experienced or what pain you have suffered, God can bring you through the ashes of destruction to the beauty of life.

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