The geese pecked at the wet grass and droplets formed on the pink blossoms that decorated the trees, the product of the early afternoon drizzle.
The marker that memorialized Lisa Frost's life, and those who have lost children, was quiet as America marked the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.
On most notable days related to Frost, a 22-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita resident killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the memorial is a destination. Flowers and balloons , messages and candles on the anniversary of the tragedy.
A year ago, red balloons frolicked in the air, tied to the pentagon-shaped fence that surrounds the Trabuco Oak under which Frost's marker rests. On the balloons, "Lisa~We finally got him!" and "Happy May Day."
, when news of bin Laden's extermination became known, people gathered to lay flowers, light candles, prop up flags and remember. It was a sunny day, one created for celebration.
Tuesday's gloom was created for remembering too. Quietly, as a community moves forward.
Just like the day.
There is usually something at the marker. Something placed by her father, Tom, on one of his morning runs. Maybe a votive candle placed by a resident who was particularly touched. A message placed by a patriot that reads, "God Bless Our Troops."
On this day, one with an increased terror alert nationwide, a red vase leaned against the side of the marker. Inside, long-dried flowers wet from the drizzle amid red, white and blue decorations spilling out like a Fourth of July firework.
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The benches are damp. Last September, with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 headstrong into the public conscious, Lisa's parents, Tom and Melanie, sat on these benches and talked.
For Melanie, it's still painful. For her, it will always be painful. She misses Lisa, who was salutatorian at Trabuco Hills High and then valedictorian of hospitality administration at Boston University. Lisa was coming home before starting a job in the Bay Area.
"Now, I'm getting to where I'm adjusting to the fact that she's never coming back, that she was taken by terrorists, and it's one of those tough things you have to get through day by day," Melanie said. "I'm doing a lot better than I was. I'm getting through the day without crying anymore. But it's still difficult because I miss her so much. She was my daughter."
Lisa Anne was, by all accounts, a special young woman. Helping other students with their grades, get a meal, there's a reason a lounge at Boston U is named in her honor.
She was just one life among thousands, but she was ours. Before 9/11, she belonged to Tom and Melanie. After 9/11, she belonged to us as well.
"Bringing bin Laden to justice has helped a little bit," , who was one of the most visible mourners in the aftermath of the terror attacks, helping make Lisa one of the faces of the tragedy.
agreed. She has such gratitude for the Navy SEALS who exacted the death penalty on al-Qaida's leader, and for those who have fought the war on terror.
"It was such a godsend," Melanie said. "I'm so glad he's gone. I'm so happy about that."
A lot of people are.
Even in the quiet of a gloomy day.