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Words

I try to pinpoint words that when strung together, like beads in a necklace, express something with texture and richness; I hope for the occasional sparkle of a well placed gem. I frequently fail miserably. But on a good day, as with a candid photo, I unexpectedly capture a heartbeat, and it feels as if I've successfully seized fog with my hands.

Friday, September 9, 2011

This Sunday, And Every Other One, Too



I was awake at 5:30AM, lying in bed with the hubs, listening to the radio. Morning news, overnight events. Waking up with KGO San Francisco. Ed Baxter reported a commercial passenger plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.

On that crisp New York morning, balanced on the brink of autumn, New Yorkers scrambled to work and school in America’s favorite anthill briefly unaware that it was not a navigational error, a tragic aviation accident that had occurred overhead.

As the second tower was targeted, indelible evidence of a calculated attack emerged and twin fires blackened a bright blue New York sky.

This morning I watched a few minutes of video footage collected ten years ago. I was nearly as incredulous today as I was then. I remembered the facts vividly but memory of the terrified faces of New Yorkers had dulled. As had the despairing, haunted and fatigued ones worn by those sifting debris for human remains in the weeks to come.

I didn’t lose friends or family in the towers. Or at the Pentagon. Or in a field in Shanksville, PA. My son, then a student in Washington, D.C., finally found a working phone that afternoon and called to say he was safe. I exhaled in relief. I remember turning to the dirt for solace; I loosened soil for my fall garden.  

Not everyone I know was as fortunate. I watched their long wait to recover something of loved ones. Until tangible confirmation was received they teetered between dwindling hopefulness and hopeless resignation.

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In the days, weeks and months that followed I made many trips to New York, the smoky plume from “The Pile” rising to meet my plane. I tasted pulverized concrete, saw windows pasted with ash, and faces peering from paper flyers attached to fences and buildings as families searched for their missing. Flowers spilled from steps onto sidewalks in front of every police and fire station.

New York was temporarily silent, hallowed ground consecrated by those who died as citizens and friends of the United States.

I’ve been in a tussle with myself about the right way to acknowledge the events of 9/11. To honor, commemorate, give comfort, provide solace and remember the victims and heroes. I have given it considerable thought. This is my plan for Sunday.

After a nod to the heavens and a thank you for the good life I’ve been given by accident of birth in this place and time, I will do as I do every other Sunday.

I believe the best way for me to remember those who would have chosen to live an ordinary Sunday had it not been for despicable events ten years ago is to do so myself. To do so well and with purpose. This Sunday, and every other one, too.

To those left behind by loved ones lost, I wish you peace. You are in my heart.

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