Originally written 9/13/01
Many of you know that in times of tragedy I tend to feel the need to write in order to find some clarity in my emotions & peace in my mind. When Princess Diana, Walter Payton, John F. Kennedy, Jr. died, when Columbine happened, I wrote you to share my thoughts & express my grief. And each time I thought: “I can’t imagine feeling any worse in my life than I do at this moment.” And yet here we are again.
I woke up the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, with a sense of dread. I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. I don’t know why. I stumbled into my living room, turned on the TV, the volume low & went into the kitchen to grab some juice. As I glanced over my shoulder at the TV I thought, “Well, there’s a trailer for a movie I WON’T be seeing: “Armageddon-Independence Day-Rambo Does NY”. What else could I possibly think I was seeing, as I watched a commercial airplane explode into the World Trade Center on a clear & sunny September morning? I went into the bathroom, turned on the radio & stepped into the shower. Then I heard these words: “This day will go down in history as the most tragic in our lifetime”. I turned the water off, ran into the living room, turned up the volume on the TV, & sat on my couch where I remained in shock for the next 48 hours, remote control in one hand, phone in the other, box of tissues by my side, my kitty on my lap.
In those first moments of stunned horror I tried to call loved ones in NY, but to no avail. I eventually just started going through my address book calling everyone I know just to hear their voices, but phone lines were busy between SF & Atlanta, NY & Seattle, LA & Chicago.
There really are no words to express what we are all feeling. I think what makes this horrific act of terror so potent is that it feels as if this attack was directed at each & every one of us. We were all the intended targets. No one is immune from its impact.
Four commercial flights, flying from & to major US cities (one of which is my hometown), deliberately crashed into the Most recognizable building in the Most famous city in the World is More than the human brain can comprehend. Every time I try, the only reaction my brain can muster is to prompt tears to roll down my cheeks. My heart is so heavy & so sad – so very, very sad.
In times of tragedy, as cliché as it may seem, the country suddenly feels a bit smaller & undoubtedly more united. And yet, as much as we are compelled to feel a sense of national pride, to wave our flags & sing the anthems that we know almost all the words to, we must not forget that we are not a perfect land. We allow unspeakable horrors (racism, sexism, child abuse, etc) to occur on our own soil everyday. While many nations stand united with us now in our time of need, these same allies have valid concerns about our polices as well. We cannot ignore this fact.
And it is vital for us to acknowledge that there are people in this world who have hatred towards our country so immense that they would be driven to orchestrate such an act as the one that occurred on Tuesday. We may never understand it, but it is REAL & as much as we feel the need to “retaliate”, we will NEVER end the evil pattern of terrorism until the issues that motivate these horrors are addressed. There are no easy answers.
So what are we to do NOW? Right now I don’t know what or how to feel. Numbness is all my psyche can seem to handle. Everywhere I go, every face I see, looks the same: blank expressions. There is no sparkle in anyone’s eyes. Not one person is smiling. Everyone looks as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, deep in thought & heavy of heart. I feel as if the muscles in my face that used to allow me to smile have been paralyzed permanently. It seems implausible to think we will ever be joyful again.
AND YET I KNOW WE WILL.
Our buildings may have crumbled.
Our children’s sense of innocence may have been shaken.
Our airports may have shut down.
Our icons of Americana may have been cleared out.
Our sense of security may have been tested.
We still have many thousands of bodies to remove from the rubble
& our grieving hasn’t even Begun to reach its apex.
All of this is indeed true.
I know that we WILL smile again.
I know we WILL have joy in our lives again,
because there are SOME things that NO act of terrorism,
no matter how horrific,
can take away from us:
OUR Love For One Another
These qualities create our foundation, our core,
as a nation & as a people.
They are indestructible – Period.
So if these terrorists thought they could demolish us,
they really should have just stayed home on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
Their mission was NOT accomplished.
Whenever tragedy strikes we each must struggle to find the blessing amidst the devastation. Yes, we are lucky that we are safe & alive. I am thankful that no one that I know of, thus far, was injured or killed. Those are the obvious blessings. But life will never be the same for any of us. It cannot be. Every time tragedy strikes we say, “I promise to live life to its fullest, as if today could be my last. To cherish all the wonderful gifts I’ve been given & hold a bit closer to my heart my loved ones”.
But DO we? WILL we? I wonder.
For me, the blessing amidst the devastation,
is that I was inspired to write this letter to you,
the family that I have chosen for myself,
whether I’ve known you for 30 years or for 30 days,
& to tell you that:
You mean the world to me.
If my life were to end tomorrow,
it was a better world I lived in
& a richer life I led
because you were a part of it.
You are always in my thoughts.
You are always in my heart.
You are forever in my prayers.
I love you all dearly.
In Love, Friendship & Peace,