Nine Years, One Week Later….

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.                        
 ~Ambrose Redmoon
Since 9/11 I’ve been sitting here wishing I had the words to eloquently express my sadness, sense of loss and horror and condolences to the families of everyone who perished that day. I wanted to be poignant and somber and I wanted to be able to reach out via my keyboard and make people think. I wanted people to feel exactly what they felt on that Tuesday nine years ago. I wanted to say something that would, as that day had done, pull us all together as Americans. For one day there wasn’t a “you” or a “me.”  That day, and the days shortly afterwards, we were all “we.”
I wanted to be able to make people remember, think, realize and hurt for just one moment — one moment in which to think about the families of those who died.  One moment to remember the children growing up fatherless or motherless, the wives  adjusting to life without husbands, the husbands without wives, the parents without children. One moment to try to put yourself in the place of someone who ended up giving up their life (and altering the lives of their loved ones) to save thousands of people they had never met.
I wanted to wonder aloud in my public forum about those rescuers, and the people who worked in the Twin Towers who stayed behind to help other people out. What kind of people are we underneath our daily faces? When the hustle to get to work, to get the kids off to school, to get your presentation finished, to stop at Starbucks, to…whatever. When the hustle and bustle of the insignificant things we fill our days worrying about becomes dramatically inconsequential…who are we?
Could I have stayed behind, fearing death, to help evacuate my offices? Could I have stood in the shadow of that towering blazing building with people screaming and running around, smelling the fuel, seeing people jumping from windows high above me and gathered enough courage to pick up my gear and run inside? Could I, as a passenger on Flight 93, have said to myself, “Okay, we’re obviously going to die anyway. Let’s make sure we take these guys out before they can do what they intend to do”? (And then have the presence of mind to formulate some sort of plan and make sure we were away from populated areas?)
 I remember the man inside the South tower who called home to tell his family that he was fine, not to worry.  Later, on their answering machine they heard him say it was the other tower that was on fire. He didn’t know what was happening, but he was fine. I can picture this man at his desk, maybe walking around a bit while he was talking. Then he must have turned his head to look out the window and saw a plane headed straight for him because just then on the answering machine tape he screams…. Then there is nothing. Imagine that being the last thing you have of your husband or your father. Imagine having that to replay over and over to add to your grief.
I wasn’t able to write anything before that day. On that day I couldn’t even bear to sit at the computer and make the attempt. One week and nine years later, all I can say with any clarity is,
“My heart is still broken.”

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7 thoughts on “Nine Years, One Week Later….

  1. Interesting that you should post this today. I was talking about 9/11 with my shrink this afternoon & I'm not sure why, exactly. He asked if I had any post traumatic stress and I said no! it didn't have any lasting affect. Except that helicopters frighten me, as do unannounced fireworks. Oh yeah, and the smell of candle wax. But no, I wouldn't say it haunts me.Oh, I remember why it came up. There was a policeman standing guard at a synagogue I walked by on my way to throwuppy. It's Yom Kippur. & I thought about all the National Guard men with M-16s who now wander through Grand Central Station.And it's been nine years and something is going to happen again soon.

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  2. I think there are moments in life when the brain shuts down the analytical front part and shifts to the 'fight, flight or flee" part in the back. The rescuers just focused on what they were trained to do. The passengers on Flight 93 did what they felt they needed to do.I wonder every day what Tom was thinking when his plane crashed in the ocean. I am sure there was fear. I know there was love. But I also know there was hope. Hope that he might make it through.There was hope in the fireman that ran up the stairs. There was hope in the man calling home. And there was hope in the man who decided to jump out of a window, hope that somehow he would survive.Hope. It's the one thing we have over all else.

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  3. Thanks all for the comments. You sure know how to perk a girl up. There are things in this world I hate, and I'm not a hater. I hate that people have to die in fear. I prefer to go in my sleep, unaware and painless. I hate the thought that I or people I care about will have to see it coming. I guess that makes me a coward. Or protective.Most times we do what we have to do. This week the Weather Channel replayed the crash of Flight 90 that crashed in the Potomac in 198-…2? I remember that. There was a man (later recognized for his bravery) who was on the bank watching the rescue attempt. One of the women was too cold, in shock, and couldn't hold onto the life preserver thrown to her by the helicopter. This man removed his shoes and coat and jumped into the icy water (there were literally ice floes), swam to her, grabbed her just as she was going under, and took her to shore. He still has a confused look on his face about the whole thing. "I didn't do anything heroic. I did what had to be done."Here's hope, Lanita :), that we all have that strength inside us.

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