Monday, September 12, 2011

10 years after 9/11

Yesterday was hard.
Yesterday was surreal.
Yesterday was sacred.
Yesterday was a beautiful clear day so we took our girls to feed ducks before church and for a moonlit walk before bed.
And my head couldn't make sense of such beautiful, peaceful moments on the Sabbath day next to the desperate pictures of suffering on the television.
And after 10 years I still can't believe my own eyes when I watch the towers fall.
I still can't stop crying.
The Artist and I watched the footage in silence after we put the girls in bed.
We held on tight to each other, just like we did that horrible day.

I was in college that day. My last semester. My hardest classes. I had a Spanish test at 10 o'clock. I almost hit my teacher when she said we still had to take it. I threw down my answers angrily and stormed from class, as if getting back to the television would somehow make things better. I went to my history class and put my head on my arms and wept. Not cried. Not dripped. Wept. I never looked up. I remember a hand on my shoulder from a class mate and how he slipped a tissue into my hand and patted my back. My teacher spoke a few words, but ancient Chinese history just didn't seem important anymore. We all left.
Down in the lobby we watched the televisions as the pentagon smoked and people ran from the capital building. One boy threw down his back pack and punched the marble column.
I walked home, not even sure I was breathing. Not caring if I kept breathing. And I walked into the Artist's arms and cried all day. Yelled and paced and screamed at the television.
We never slept that night. I was too scared I would miss a rescue. I needed to see someone else alive. They never came out alive. I tried to swap. I told God I would lay down dead if he would bring just one more person out alive.
It wasn't my swap to make. That wasn't my privilege.
And now, all these years later, I count that day as one of the most important and formative days of my life. Somewhere in that chaos, smoke and rubble I learned how to love a stranger. Not abstractly, but in a very personal way. And as ashamed as I am that it took a tragedy of that magnitude to learn that lesson, I will forever be grateful for the examples of brotherly love that changed my heart forever.
I lost no one.
I've never been to New York.
I didn't even know anything about the World Trade Centers on September 10th.
But I still count it one of the largest trial of my life because even though it didn't happen to me,
it really did.
I didn't breath the dust, but I was choking.
It didn't cut my flesh, but my heart was bleeding.
It didn't take my family, but it made them seem so fragile.
I didn't hold up a missing person flyer, but I was searching for something lost.
I didn't pick up the rubble and clean the mess, but I had to sort through the debris of anger and fear.
We all fell on 9/11.
We all had to learn to stand again.

No comments:

Post a Comment