When I want to pay homage to someone I struggle with the words. They never seem to do justice to the feeling I want to express. And today is no different. Today, multiply this by the thousands. And the years.
This is not a historical moment in my mind, or in my heart. It’s a very painful recollection of the attack on our people. Our land. Our naivety.
As we will all do, remembering today is possibly a collective way to honor those who are gone. Hopefully in the remembering of that day and how it impacted us it can bring some kind of honor and respect to them. Because we won’t forget them. We may not remember specific names. But we know who they were. We know them personally as mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, friends and cousins, co-workers and neighbors. We know who you are even if we did not know your name.
Some of us, and God bless you every one, know a single name, a single lost smile, a single soft touch, and miss it every day. There’s no way to know your suffering then, or now. Even imagining it is impossible.
I hope by living that day and the shared grief of an entire nation, and I would venture to say…a shared grief of likely most of the world, we can lift our memories to their lives in honor. So they know they are not forgotten.
I do remember where I was. I learned as I signed in to work that morning and Lisa our cook told me that a plane had crashed in to one of the towers in New York. I had not heard or seen anything from home to work, a ten minute drive. I must have had a cd playing in the car instead of the radio. Immediately I pictured a small 2 seater plane. Someone learning to fly, or flying off course. I could not have, nor would I have had any reason to, pictured the magnitude of what happened.
But then we turned on the TV in the living area of the corrections facility where I worked. And it stayed on all day. All of us, staff and troubled youth alike, stuck to the TV. I don’t know about anyone else but I felt a tremendous burden of guilt on my chest every time I had to walk away to do something “normal”. Answer a phone call, tend to work duties, tend to things not impacted by what we were witnessing. We watched as reports came in, planes flying in to the towers, towers crashing down, a plane full of people in a field, a plane in to the Pentagon. Not comprehending what we were seeing…though we knew…we knew what it meant. People. People. People were there.
There was something very empty, yet very heavy, about the air. The things we had to do seemed pointless yet we knew we had to do them.
I picked up a pizza on the way home. I told a friend today I don’t know how the pizza makers functioned. I know I picked up a pizza because I could not go home and cook. My youngest child was ten at the time. When I got home around 4:30 she lie down on the living room floor and slept until the next morning. She turned off from what was happening in the world. I couldn’t blame her. But I was shocked by it. I picked her up and put her to bed when I felt I could put her that far away from me.
I watched the news and devoured it. I was afraid to miss information. I was afraid to miss the possibility of any good news…survivors being found alive.
I remember the first time I heard of the firemen and policemen rushing in the attacked buildings as they encouraged everyone else to leave. And I thought of the families sitting around waiting, I saw videos of people passing out fliers of their loved ones. Have you seen him? Do you know where she is?
It was too difficult to watch. But I felt guilty about being able to walk away from it.
When so many could not.
I did not know any one person in that attack. But I know millions felt attacked. Millions cared. And millions suffered. Those of us who did not know one single person, will mourn with you all.
For this day I want to remember them, and all of you who love them.
For that day, and those memories, I give my respectful memories to the lives lost and the lives suffering those losses still.