Monday, September 11, 2006

Memories

Lots of sorrow, lots of vivid memories today. Jean's post is very moving, and I will treasure this comment:
For a moment in time it didn't matter what sex you were, what color you were, what your political standing was, what your religion was.... for one perfect moment in time we were all just Americans who cared about each other and our Nation.

I came late to the knowledge of that day. I was in a very bad period of my life, nearly non-functional, and I never listened to the news. I spoke to no one and had no idea what had happened, until DH came home for dinner and told me. He knew that I wouldn't know about it, and that I wouldn't have been able to deal with it alone. Like millions of others, I wept, and obsessively followed the news through the evening and into the oh-dark-hundred hours. I found myself turning to the Bible, something I hadn't done for years. Eccelesiates : "To everything there is a season". Psalm 21: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of death". On and on, searching for some comfort, more than DH could give me, though he tried. Of course the TV was on during all my waking hours for days.

I heard about the national day of prayer. We live one long block from a lovely Catholic church. I called to be sure it was OK for a non-Catholic to attend. I dusted off and put one one of my long-neglected black business suits and walked to the service. So many came there were standees. It was lovely and incredibly comforting.

DH and I had planned for months to take a vacation, something we hadn't done in several years, a tour of New Mexico. I'd been looking forward to it, involved - for a change - in the planning. Santa Fe, the pueblos, Taos, plus a road trip circling up to Mesa Verde in SW Colorado then back through the reservations. Our flight was booked for September 15. We debated for hours, to go or not to go. Was it safe? Would anyone bomb flights to Albuquerque? Friends urged us to stay, part of the fear everyone had of new tragedies. We decided to go, even if we had to drive, and checked and double-checked at the airline's website. At midnight on the 14th it was confirmed that the first flights would be going. The trip tooks hours and hours, waiting at LAX, waiting at Phoenix's airport, since planes were being double-and triple-inspected and replacement planes were not in their usual spots. In New Mexico, people were trying to be normal; visitors are a huge part of the economy, and everyone was kind and especially friendly. The trip was a success in spite of the fear. So we have some positive memories of that time when the nation was pulling together, re-establishing what their post-tragedy lives would become.

Later I learned that my best-loved cousin and his wife were stranded in Florida, having visited his father. Their return to Illinois took 36 hours, on busses and rented cars, in fear, sometimes due to strangers run slightly amok with anger.

I mourn for all those who were lost, for the terrible memories the survivors have, for the permanent changes that still affect New Yorkers and the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania, for the sorrow of bereft families. Along with so many others I will be forever grateful to the Canadians, especially those in Newfoundland, who sheltered Americans and others who were stranded in their country for so many days. And I am sad that the concern and esteem that the rest of the world had for us in those awful days has been squandered by subsequent actions and events.

When my mother had a stroke in 2003, I happened upon a booklet that gave me comfort for my worries about my mother, as well as for the sadness of my memories of September 11th. The free booklet is available here.

Along with so many others today, my heart literally hurts and the tears keep welling up. May we all be blessed that nothing so awful happens again.

2 comments:

benne said...

Barbara, I tried to comment last night but the whole day was so painful, the words wouldn't come.

Lucky Canuck said...

CatBook, that is a great essay and very moving.

Can you believe I didn't happen upon your blog until now? Where has my head been?

On a lighter note, I am in deep admiration of the spectacular home library on your earlier post. :)

Lucky