My 9-11 tears came last night. Today, I won’t watch TV or look at footage or read about it much. I think of everyone who lost someone on 9/11/2001,
especially my friend who lost her cousin, Michael at age 27 years old.
His name is engraved on the 9/11 memorial at Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, NJ.
I went there a few weeks ago on a beautiful evening at the end of summer, my 13th wedding anniversary.
The view includes the new tower that is almost complete. It doesn’t seem real. I thought of my friend and that day, and everything. Everything. I touched his name. It changes nothing. But it connects me to her in my heart. It connects me to remembering what is impossible to forget. It hurts. It makes me feel insignificant, small, the way I feel when I stand under giant trees, aware of how fleeting life is, how I am dependent on others. Holding my son’s hand or kissing his cheek is perfect but when he reaches for my hand, or kisses me, it expands my heart.
My husband’s hand holding mine is what keeps me standing up as we look for the names we know, just breathing and looking at the lights, remembering. We’ve been together 18 years. My life was altered for the good because of him. That’s a fact of my life that can never be taken by anything or anyone, and it’s with and because of that love that I have everything.
What a miracle, how love grows from sparks and laughs and chance encounters. How sadness over loss can’t be quantified or measured or wrapped up or closed. How it hurts and I stand there and I allow it to hurt. And then I must turn my head away and walk towards the trees. I shake my head over the names and the ages and the randomness of it all, the deliberate act, the spectacle, and I try to shake off the hurt. I breathe in gratitude for what I have. I have everything. Everything.
I think of falling down as I look over and away and down, and my heart skips a beat because I’m afraid of heights. I’ve been there at the top and it was so incredibly high. I imagine what it was like to choose to jump and fly down instead of burning or gasping for air. What thoughts went through the minds of people who leapt? Did they know peace in those moments? Would that even be possible? Because I want to believe that peace comes and fear is erased and love wins. Or is it in this moment today that I must find that?
I think of witnesses who watched people fly down and those who had to pick up the pieces, and my heart breaks over it all, for people I didn’t know, for people suffering in fear, and I ask myself what have I done to make the world a better place? I ask— who am I? What can I do? Have I loved my family today? Can I be more patient? Will I choose to be kind? Will it matter if I do or don’t do anything? Over what do I have control? When do I let go? I am afraid. Is it OK to say that out loud? I am afraid and I know I have everything and I don’t want to ever lose what I have which is everything.
And so I align my day to that LOVE. What do I need to do for my family today? What do I do for a friend? For a cause? What do I do for me that is about love so my tiny smallness, the crazy world, the terrible sadness, the never-ending violence, has a place to go, while life goes on in my corner. Trying to find the words and put them in context and be clear and feel it and go on. Letting go of the fear as it washes over me. How to make it not about me but not lose myself?
I think of those that survived. I think of bravery and courage and love.
I search for ways
to go through this day that overwhelms and brings tears
and is simply, still, impossible to fully grasp.
It is an unusually hot day. It’s not like the crisp, cool day of 12 years ago, and repeated annually, with planes flying and life circling around and trying to accept what happened and always in the end, just being entirely overwhelmed by sadness and allowing it in but also needing to not let it swallow me up.
It’s back to school week in my town and my son has gone three days in a row and I have pride for him, because it isn’t easy to start something new. He’s conquering fears. I’m grateful. I can’t wait until I can go wait for his bus and come home together. I’ll offer him ice cream and I know his face will light up. It will light up and my heart will be calm because he’ll be with me and we’ll enjoy ice cream together and that will be the happiest moment of this day. This evening, my husband will come home from work, and as he walks through the door, another happiest moment will happen. And when we all finally go to sleep, and Ringo snuggles on the bed, too, I’ll be happy because I have everything, and I’ll be grateful for that always.
I hold on to the people and things that matter to me and wish for comfort
for others who have lost their everything.
I hope for peace in our world.
I fall to my knees.
Love and peace,