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.