Friday, September 9, 2011

Ten Years After

Like a lot of people, I was affected by the attacks of 9/11. Not in the way folks in New York or Washington were, but it still made a huge impact on me. I didn't know anyone personally who was affected, but still it was The Day The World Changed.

We in America had been really sheltered up to that point. We saw bombings on the news, but they were so far away, in another country, so it didn't seem real. It was just television for most of us. Those things couldn't occur here. We were immune.

Until we weren't.

On September 11, 2001 I was at work, when someone rushed up to me and told me an airplane had hit a building in New York City. We all ran to find TV or internet coverage of the news, and when it went from horrible to unspeakable to unbelievable, I left and went home: I couldn't stand it. I wept for days. I'm weeping now.

So many lost. So many lives changed. 

Today as I drove in, I heard a story on NPR about the death of Father Mychal Judge that day. The homily given at his funeral was exceptional, and I wept again in my parking lot. The story is worth listening to. Go ahead, do it now - I'll wait.

I have an aunt whose birthday is Pearl Harbor Day,  December 7. My birthday is September 11. My aunt and I have shared having a birthday commemorating where Thing Changed. For her generation, there was resolution: ten years later, WWII was over and things were much brighter for all.

For we, the 9/11 generation, the misery goes on and on. Since that day, I had a phrase stuck in my head, "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold". (It's from a poem by one of my favorites, W B Yeats.) And it's true, it seems that things have fallen apart around us - my birthday was just the beginning. We are engulfed in 2 wars that seem to have no end, and it seems much of the world hates us. The economy has gone to hell world wide. People are losing their homes. There is mass unemployment. I have struggled with this myself - I had two long stretches of unemployment this decade, totaling 21 months. I developed a brain tumor. My son and my family have struggled with his mental illness. We make less actual money (even less, adjusted for inflation) than we did in 2001, and our expenses are so much greater. Times are so hard.

It's so easy for me to give in to despair. Despair, and fear of what might happen. What if terrorists somehow make a major strike again? What if this recession/depression lasts for another 10 years? What if my health fails or I lose my job? What if some political extremists take power? What if Curly takes his life? What if - ?

And yet - I can't give in to fear. Fear strangles the life out of living. There is a great quote from the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" which says, "Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free."

I don't want to be a prisoner.

And so, I hope.

I hope. I hope.

And I hope you do too.

So you'll have to forgive me if this year, I don't watch the documentaries and TV specials on 9/11. It's not that I don't care - I really DO care. I care a lot. It's just that I'm tired of crying about it, and I'm ready to move on. With hope for better things.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
         Emily Dickinson

Blessings to you all - in hope.


  1. Thank you for this honest, hopeful and moving blog post. Big Hugs!

  2. Sandra...
    I, like you will not watch the media or T.V. coverage on the 9/11 history. I care also and while my reason may be trivial to many but it isn't trivial to me. On my first marriage , our wedding day was September 11, 1982... That marriage was over the night before the 18th wedding anniversary. Then the following year, 9/11 happened. I am tired of crying too. So.. I am trying not to cry but I still will pray. Many HUGS to You Sandra and please have a wonderful birthday.. you are a wonderful person!

  3. A very moving blog post. There is so much sorrow all over the world and it is times like these that it overwhelms us. W.B. Yeats is one of my favourite poets. I wish you and your family all the best for the future and just keep hoping that things will get better.
    But more to the point have a very happy birthday.

  4. Like you and Karrieann, I will not be watching or listening to the re-runs of 911 calls or the news stories, I can be sad and sorrowful for those who lost their lives or loved ones, and I can celebrate the US's resilience with out those, as it tears my heart to hear them again.
    things might not be as they were, now or ever again, but as the poem by Emily Dickinson states, Hope perches in the soul and never stops.

  5. Five of my co-workers died at the twin towers that day. On Wednesday, I was speaking with another co-worker who survived that horrific day. She says that she was not alone that day, that none of them was alone that day.
    Know that no matter what is going on in your life, you are not alone. Your life has purpose; your life has meaning. Be strong and be steadfast. You are not alone.
    Have a happy birthday. See you in two weeks.
    Big hugs.

  6. Thank you for this post!! I find myself affixed to the documentaries which focus on that day. My brother is a battalion chief with the fire department in Florida. We cried together that day. Although it's a vicarious connection, I realized how deeply I was affected that day. We all were in some way.
    With Hegla, I look forward to seeing you soon!

  7. That NPR story made me weep Friday, too. "We can bury his heart, but not his love." Yep. I sobbed.