Today’s post has nothing to do with editing, or writing, other than that we write from our deepest experiences. And for all of us, 9/11 formed a cavernous, un-fillable loss, a memory of an experience we cannot release.
I was preparing to leave the house, eager to get to an early Contemporary Woman class at Brescia University. As usual, I had the television on, sound turned low, so I could check the weather before leaving for town. Mother was still asleep, and I tried not to disturb her.
My attention was caught by a change of scene on the screen, and I found myself watching a skyscraper billowing smoke. Moving into the living room, I increased the volume a bit. A newscaster was describing an accident – a plane had somehow flown off course and collided with a building at the World Trade Center. I was horrified and saddened for the passengers and crew of that plane, as well as the people on the floors it had impacted. As the coverage continued, I realized I had to get on the road, but I called to my mother that there had been a terrible accident in New York, and left the television on for her.
I was nearly to town, listening to the radio, when news came of the second plane colliding with the second building. My heart raced as my mind wrestled with the unthinkable. This could be no accident. As an Air Force veteran, I immediately understood that our world would never be the same.
In moments I arrived at the university and sat silent in my car, trying to understand the ramifications of what surely was an attack on America. I remember looking up into the blue sky… but was it? How could the day be so clear and beautiful when something so horrific had happened? I still don’t know for sure if the sky was the shade of cobalt I remember, or if my mind was trying to convince me that if everything around me was normal this terrible thing could not have happened.
When I entered the room where our group met – a sacred space created through the spiritual studies and meditations of years past – I realized the women already gathered there hadn’t heard what was happening.
I could barely breathe, knowing I was forever rending the spiritual peace we had created in that place, as I related what I knew so far.
As more women filtered in, some unaware, some in stunned disbelief, we changed our plans for the class. The only thing we could do was meditate and pray for the lost souls of those on the planes and in the buildings. For two hours we sat in that darkened room in a circle, silently weeping and praying, still unaware that two other planes were even then increasing the toll of death and destruction, that two soaring towers would collapse in dark clouds of destroyed lives and shattered dreams.
After I returned home, late that morning, I found myself glued to the television, watching the destruction of lives and businesses replay on an endless loop. My heart broke for the people who died or were injured, for the families who lost loved ones, for friends who would never again meet up after work, for every person around the world whose lives would be forever affected by the ripples of this attack.
I don’t know why the anniversary hits me so hard this year. It’s been twelve years, and yet it was yesterday. The world is still at war in every corner. We still live in fear of our neighbors, our neighboring nations, of everything we don’t understand or recognize. It burdens our souls, and shapes our childrens’ lives. Discord and intolerance weigh upon us every day. On this anniversary, the world watches new atrocities in Syria and trembles at the brink of decisions about new military action.
9/11 forever changed the fabric of our nation, and of the world. I wish it had forever changed the way we treat each other. Forever changed the words we use with and about each other. To something better. Something brighter.