Originally published for the Imperfect Parent September 11, 2008 -- republished here, as the reading of the names continue -- I will never forget...
This time last year, my dear friend, Dana Tuske (who also is a columnist here at the Imperfect Parent) asked me if I would consider being one of her guest bloggers at The Dana Files and I was very honored by the compliment.
Until, her next email and I scanned down until I found my name on the blogging schedule -- on September 11.
I can’t believe that it’s been 7 years, but I remember how terribly frightened I was -- living just across the bay from the World Trade Center in New York City -- with my two oldest already in elementary school and me home, alone, with a toddler and a two month old.
So, I sat down, stared at my laptop (pretty much like I’m doing now) then, closed my eyes and just listened.
Here’s what I heard:
There’s music playing -- its rhythm is slow and solemn, like the beat of a broken heart -- a moment of silence breaks into the sadness, as the hour turns dark and the names of strangers are carried on the wind.
I hear them all and try to focus on every syllable -- but, I cannot watch.
Voices are broken -- shattered to pieces and lost among the tears -- but, I listen and try to ignore the pain, fearing the smallest interruption in thought as nothing less than an injustice.
There are so many names -- male, female, officers, citizens -- a bell tolls, as they continue remembering and move on in the alphabet.
They are only on the letter B.
Someone is speaking now -- remembering her brother and his wonderful barbecued chicken -- the family never stops thinking of him. Every day. Every month. Every year. They miss him.
A man is speaking of community, now.
He quotes that “No man is an island,” -- how appropriate and terribly sad -- the names keep coming. On and on they are quietly read by friends, lovers, sisters, brothers and colleagues.
I think I see their faces.
A mother begins to cry and I feel as if I can’t hold on, any longer -- my head is starting to hurt -- but, I continue to listen, to imagine and to mourn.
They’re on the letter C, now.
The same surname has just been read four times and I can’t help and think -- I hope they weren’t related. But, then again, it doesn’t matter. They are joined together, now. In eternal peace and in memory.
Another fire fighter is remembered -- and another -- so many!
The names are beginning to run together -- another fire fighter and brother -- but, I listen and wait for, well, I don’t know what. The goosebumps to stop, perhaps?
Oh God, this man is assuring his friend -- a police or port authority officer, I think -- that he is missed and that his wife is doing a wonderful job of raising their baby, now much more grown and still loving him.
I think of my youngest child -- two months old, at the time -- and how scared I was for her, my three year-old son, and my two oldest daughters. I remember calling their school -- they were in kindergarten and first grade -- wondering if my babies were safe and needing to hold them.
Later, the children were released -- the teachers wearily handing
off each and every one -- we stayed behind to be sure that everyone had
someone to hug.
No one could speak.
The skies turned quiet and I can still remember the strong smell of death -- it is beyond disgusting -- as the nightmare unfolded not too far from our own backyards.
We drove to the waterfront -- as so many of our neighbors did, that day -- and the skyline looked positively alien. What was once bright and shiny, was now black. Nothing more than that. Not much has changed.
They are on the letter D, now.
I hear the music, again -- but, having grown accustomed its quiet lull -- it doesn’t hurt so much, now. No peace, though. Still. I want to forgive. But, will never forget.
September 11, 2001.
The names continue.