Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11

The phone rang, 11 years ago, and not unusually, Glenn answered. What he said next and what we witnessed next was unreal, horrifying, heart wrenching and unifying.

Turn on the TV.

And how I wish we hadn't. I wish I hadn't watched that first tower burning, how I wish we hadn't seen the second plane hit and watched, through tears and the news channels, in an incredible use of poor taste, played those images over and over. It was as if the news channels were almost gleeful that something had happened that could now devote hours upon hours to explaining and analyzing, criticizing and inflaming a response. It was NOT all major networks finest hours. I wish I did not have those images of people, wives, daughters, sons, fathers, jumping from those burning buildings, oh I wish those images were not seared so deeply into my sub conscious. I wish I had not heard myself saying NO, NO, NO so much that I heard it in my dreams for weeks.

One unimaginable thing after another that day. And yet, someone had imagined it, had practiced it and had relegated those people, who were doing the most basic of things, working, to being victims. And their families, to being Widows, and Widowers and never giving them the chance to say 'I love you' one last time.

As the first hour passed, Glenn called one of his employees to find out if his brother had gone to work that morning. There was no word. He had not been heard from. It took another 3 hours to hear that he was OK. Three long hours.

We had visitors with us that day and we had planned on going to Disneyland. We could not help the Special Needs young man understand what had happened. When we told him that Disneyland was closed, he couldn't understand why and was very upset by it. THAT was difficult. One wanted to scream that people had died and we had to be careful, but he didn't understand that. It was then, I learned patience. THAT moment. I mean, the patience that comes with having a Special Needs child. I had patience in spades before that but I learned what it is to have to distance yourself from YOUR moment for a time, even if it is a moment shared by millions of other people, it was not shared by that one young man. He could not grasp it. And maybe he was better off. I had to repress my reaction and replace it with compassion, understanding and patience, while we tried to get him to understand that we could go some other time. Tomorrow? Probably not but we will see.

Honestly, I don't remember when we went. I know we did, but I don't remember it. I have the pictures but they do not illicit any memory of the event. I was too shocked still, too saddened. The only glimpse I have of the Disneyland day after the attack was of me holding onto to Glenn crying.

As the stories of the heroes of that day emerged, so did the flags. On every porch, on every car. The ribbons were everywhere too. I, naively thought, this changes everything and we will be more unified. It did, and we were, for a while. I am sure that in each part of the country the timeframe was different but in California, it lasted about 5 months. But even after 5 months, we were still bombarded by the joy in the streets elsewhere at the death of other human beings. To this day, that STILL shocks. A lot of things shock me about that event, but that is the strongest: Joy at death.

Over the years, many things have changed, and all things are still the same. But me. I will forever hold that memory with me. Because I will NOT let it go. I refuse to let it be a story in a history book. I remember it. I was changed by it. I was overwhelmed and consoled by it. I will not apologize for my tears this day. I will hold my children longer and be grateful for the experience life has yet to teach me. I reflect on the past, and I relate it to the future, so that I might learn and I might teach my children. How different might the future be because I honor the past?

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