On an ordinary morning a decade ago, I woke up, took the PATH train from NJ into Manhattan.Â I stopped at the usual coffee cart to pick up a muffin, and gripe with the guy at the counter about the Giants’ game.Â I admired what a gorgeous day it was, and grumbled about having to be in the office.Â I went inside, turned on my computer, checked my in-box, and went down the hall toÂ make my first cup of tea….
and the world changed.Â You all know how.
And I changed.Â Not at first, not all at once.Â But slowly, the shards of Had-Been cracking and falling away.
Life became more precious, more fragile, and at the same time, it also became lighter to hold.Â Some things became more important.Â Some things became less.Â And a wound that had cut deeply across my life did not so much heal as become part of me, a tender place I still have to protect from being unexpectedly bumped or jostled.Â But it’s part of me.Â I’m part of it.
This week, the news is filled with memorials, testimonials, leading to Sunday’s official remembrance.Â I don’t need to take a day to remember.Â I never forget. Never forget how quickly Fear-of-Other can obliterate a beautiful blue sky, how it can destroy the lives of innocents – turn then into victims… or killers.Â Never forget how easy, how simple it is for any person, any group, to react, to embrace the excuse of Them-ism.Â To lose the real battle.
Ten years, and every year I make the same vow.Â I will not lose.Â I will not allow the tender place to fester.
This does not make me weak.Â It does not make me a target.Â To forgive, and remember, is the hardest thing, the strongest thing.Â The only blessing I can offer to the dead.
When I close my eyes, even now, I see the plume of smoke.Â I taste ash.Â I ache with loss like something cut out of myself.Â And then I open my eyes again. Â I stand witness to the dead.Â I will not let fear win.
From the Archives: That day, as it happened.
5 thoughts on “I need no day of memorial; it lives behind my eyelids yet and forever.”
I am a full speed ahead type of girl but this week I have had to stand still with my eyes scrunched tight to keep from being knocked on my ass all over again. I remember and always will.
I can barely read about it. I cannot visit where it was. I do not need or want to watch other people’s tributes.
It changed everything, including me. I always remember.
I currently live in the midwest but got phone calls that morning from both my sister and brother-in-law. They were standing in their respective office windows looking at what was happening to lower Manhattan. My sister knew that night-owl me would not be awake and knew I needed to be. later she went home and picked up slews of children (her own included) to sit and wait to hear from parents, some of whom worked in the WTC. All of the parents eventually made it back to NJ, thankfully. I remember the event and those phone calls as well as thoughts of the children waiting.
Well said, Laura.
Very well said indeed.
I’ve often wondered what it was really like for my friends who lived in New York City at the time, but unless they bring it up, I’m always afraid to ask. You write about it powerfully.