That Tuesday, my heart continued sore in the absence of his laughter, amid the morning muddle, the sustenance for the emerging day. Understanding the extravagance of this grief, I humbly gathered their voices, the scents of unbroken books, the press of lips to cheek.
Cerulean skies compelled contemplation of the day’s perfection: a clarity in the sky; a crispness in the air; compassion in the sun that burned more gently now than in the unbearable heat of summertime.
The concrete bunker, windowless, modern, contrived upon the stately, antique hall of justice, annulled all thoughts of nature. Business -as-usual numbed the heart,the mind.
Uncertain voices besiege; turmoil in all directions: “They are Bombing New York!”
“Who, Why, How, Where, When?” No answers mattered in the moment.
The image of the man–child signaling farewell.
“Is he unharmed? Is he unharmed? Is he unharmed ?” The beat my body pounding.
One Hundred Thirty Blocks or One Thousand Miles. None of us unscathed.
The relentless display of the instant of the abomination: we are wounded and broken; allow ourselves stare on and be shattered once again.
Like a dust storm on a prairie in the mid-land, a cloud of horror mutates day time into night. The despairing fling themselves into a hopeless future. Some of the valiant surrender life in a green Pennsylvania field. All goes dark as more die in flames in Virginia.
Church bells call. Sirens keen. Bands march. The Great Men evangelize. An old oak tree crackles with the tension. Neighbors cry to hear the mother wail. Lights burn all night to comfort uncomprehending children. Strangers, friends, near and far, gather towards the fires to offer aid.
Twelve Years, eight months and some days later, the grieving, the survivors gather at that place made sacred in New York. So many lost, no trace found, just fragments. The grieving steadfast in their love.
Names are carved atop the iron bars, smoke-covered shoes and paper fragments. Remnants of what was expected to be a hum-drum day. Photographs of men, once seen, remain enduring; incomprehensibly not observed in time to forestall events.
Speeches still exalt the bravery, the compassion, the kindness seen around the world that September: Life is celebrated in the ordinariness of the moment. Or in the valor of risking all to render aid.
The flag draped stages proclaim platitudes of unexamined patriotism. Proponents of power pronounce dominance unassailed.
We feel the shock again as we stand in line at the airport, witness radiation invade the body of our child.
What is private, since that day, has gained new meaning. What is lawful for the police to take is new as well. To be christian, to be muslim: it clearly matters. Whom you visit, who you know, what you read is viewed with patriotic zeal.
Under palm trees, men, facing no charges, sit in cages recalling sudden capture, cruel detention, perhaps torture. Too many dead in wars begun, amid cries of vengeance, fought, as rich and poor at home reached a new divide. Sons and daughters return with dreams exploding in blood and gore and desert. Children, playing in the sand, fall; slain by unmanned drones they grew up fearing. USA has a whole new meaning around the world.
We honor the brave one who ran into the building. We esteem the passengers who downed their plane. We celebrate the neighbor helping neighbor.
Can we be again who we were that sun filled Tuesday? Older, clearly, and so we surely must have more judgement. But can we reclaim the courage we surrendered in the trauma? The confidence: freedom is a birthright, or it is attainable by all? The understanding that too much fear has engulfed us since that September morning.
The highest honor, the finest memorial is to cast that fear aside.