Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering. September 11, 2001





Photo by Mark Lennihan/Associated Press
9/11/01 - I was in my second week at BigFirm. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere West Texas, my travel interests were always abroad. I'd been to Europe, but not to New York. As a result, I never saw the Twin Towers with my own eyes.

I was sitting in my office on the 7th floor gearing up for the day. My Partner used to listen to NPR in the mornings and after hearing news of an accident at the World Trade Center he turned on the office's only TV - a black and white rabbit-eared job. I watched the smoke and stood, open mouthed and silent, with him and our secretary. In disbelief, we saw the second plane hit. Silently, Cheryl and I joined hands. 

By 11:00 am, an announcement was made that all offices would close. What I remember most was the silence...people moving slowly, but moving toward home and loved ones. 

Melissa was still in Dallas. After we spoke and I touched base with Mom, I went home and turned on the television. I don't know why I didn't head over to a friend's, but once I turned on the coverage, I couldn't look away. Under the covers, I sat transfixed, in tears, aghast. Every now and then I'd make a call or take a call, but, mainly, I cried.

Shadows on the wall grew longer, larger, until soon they were displaced by darkness and flickering images from the screen.  I couldn't turn it off. I couldn't look away. I couldn't comprehend.

I'm haunted still by the voice of a woman, younger than I was then. She'd left a message for her mother. Words of goodbye. Words of love. Her fear palpable, the resignation clear. I don't know why the news played it...and, I can't forget it.

The next morning a new day began. Just as beautiful as the one before, but different in a way we've still not fully gathered.

My grief feels fraudulent. I'm not a New Yorker, have never personally seen the Twin Towers, didn't know a soul lost that day. I accept, though, that loss is not something owned by state or country. And sorrow is a shared part of the human condition.

9/11, like all man-made atrocities, is a wound the world shares.

I wish I could make sense of it, but I can't even make sense of my own life many days. 2001 was the year I started my new life as a lawyer, full of promise. Since that day, I've learned how to try a case, negotiate deals, draft contracts, and navigate most business issues.

I haven't yet learned how to navigate the intricacies of living life wide-open, though. I haven't mastered the art of forgiveness and I don't know how to love without fear, without boundaries. I strive for it and long for it. And I think we all do.

Our continued failure to do so is another wound we all share.

I yearn for peace. For meaning. For connection. I'm reminded today of our commonalities. And I remember the young woman, lost. I hear her voice. Her final words of love.

And I realize...in the end, that's all there ever is.

***
This is long and very difficult to watch.


Photo by John de Guzman

3 comments:

  1. Great post.

    I wasn't there either. Had never been. But the loss was still palpable.

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