It has been a year since I saw the unthinkable, saw it unfold, live and in color. I saw things I never thought I would see. I saw American
planes used as missiles
. I saw ash covered people running for their lives. I saw people jump from 100 story windows. In the days that followed I was grief-striken, confused, and enraged.
I can only speak for myself in saying I wanted to know why, and I wanted to know who. I wanted our nation to lash out with such terrible force that they would never dare...I wanted someone to pay.
Slowly my rage died down and I just felt sick, all those lost lives. I listened to the intervies and sound bytes. Phone calls of people saying "I love you", people saying "Goodbye" I cried for them over and over, I cried til my head ached and my throat hurt. I remained glued to the TV for days. I listened to Tom Brokaw
"How many widows? How many widowers? How many orphans?"
and David Letterman
"We're told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor...and if you live to be 1,000 years old will that make any sense to you? Will that make any goddamn sense?"
and Mayor Rudolph Guiliani
"The number of casualties will be more than most of us can bear."
I watched the media cover the rescue effort, then the recovery effort, I saw people care for each other and work together as I had never seen. Patriotism surged, I saw flags everywhere. I sighed when the recovery effort came to a close. I watched with most of America when flag draped stretcher was used to symbolize those never found. These images repeat in my head over and over.
Now a year later, I watch the media replay the images endlessly. No matter what I have tried to do so far today I have been bombarded with images from last September. I watched the towers fall again and again today. It is important to remember, and I do, but do I need to hear a tape of a mother calling her son's daycare tell him goodbye? I am not sure this media barrage is helpful. Do you remember it all vividly enough? Do I? Is it ok to quit looking at the images now? Is it ok to stop crying? Is it ok to forget about it, not forver, but for a few hours? Can we talk about something other than terrorism? Well, I for one have turned my TV off, I have seen all I care to see for awhile. Enough is enough.
I remember asking my Mom years ago, "Where were you when you found out Kennedy had been shot?".
"I was home playing with my toys, and giving your Grandmother a hard time."
Someday my daughter is going to ask me, "Where were you when you found out about the attacks on September 11, 2001?"
"At your Grandmother's house. I was sleeping until the phone rang. Your Aunt called from Belgium to tell me the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. After that I was alternately glued to the TV, and on phone trying to call your other aunt who resided in NYC."
She may ask, "Where was Daddy?"
"McDonalds, He saw it on a TV there. He didn't even realize at first that it was real. He thought it was some kind of movie until he got home, and saw it on TV there."
As to what else I will tell her, I don't know yet. What will I remember most vividly? Will it be the horror, the surge of patriotism, the heroes of flight 93? I just don't know yet.
What will you tell your children?
Since September 11, I have only been in the New York area once. I was there for a funeral, which took place outside the city itself. I had no desire to go into New York for several reasons. New York has always been a favorite place of mine. Shortly after Christmas my friend Michael came for a visit. He brought with him a book for me, Matthew Pericoli's Manhattan Unfurled. It is a lovely book it is a drawing of Manhattan, the book itself folds out accordian-style into a very long drawing of the city, one side being the east side and the other the west. The twin towers are there on both sides, beginning and ending the drawing. I thanked him and cherish the book still, although it makes me a bit sad and nostalgic to look at it.
Since then the opportunity to visit New York presented itself once more. My fiance was here on vacation and we talked of going to the city for a day or two. I ended up getting sick, then our daughter got an ear infection. The trip to New York went quickly to the back burner. I was relieved. I know I will go back to New York, but when I do it won't be the with the same sense of security and excitement as before. Something has been lost. F Scott Fitzgerald expressed the emotion well in saying:
"It no longer whispers of fantastic success and eternal youth...For the moment, I can only cry out that I have lost my splendid mirage."