September 11, 2011

Scattered thoughts

Part 3

Last night, right after I turned off my light to go to sleep, an unbidden prayer flew through my head.

Dear God, please keep everyone safe tomorrow, and please protect the families and loved ones who have lost so much. Help them through the anniversary. They'll need your help.

This is significant for a number of reasons.  For one, I don't pray. I'm about as secular a girl as they come.  And for two, it felt so natural to ask for help on such a big night. It's scary to think about negotiating it all on our own.

This morning, when I left to go running, I thought, 

Dear God, the sky's right.  It's so blue again.

Dear God took on another context there.

Then I noticed there were no airplanes in the sky, no contrails slicing and dicing the blue.  It was eerie, to see such an uninterrupted swath of bright blue sky.  Did they ground all airplanes this morning? Or did no one purchase seats on the Sunday morning flights? I know I wouldn't have wanted to fly this morning.


My day today is jam-packed full of unrelated activities: a long run; a play-date with a good friend and her son; a book signing by the husband of another good friend; football; dinner with my parents.

I'm not sure if I did this intentionally, but probably I did, at least on some level.


I was thinking all week of how much the world has changed since September 11th, 2001.

We've been at war ever since, in two countries, sometimes three.

When I was in high school, searching for the One Thing that would mean something to me, I used to lament living in such a calm era.  I wished to have lived during WWII, when it meant so much to contribute to the war effort. I wished to have lived during the Vietnam War, when it meant so much to defy and protest the war effort. Either way, I just wanted to feel something.

But now I lament the chaotic time in which I've reached adulthood, where a tiny percentage of our population has fought for and died for our country without the rest of us being even remotely effected. It's like there are ghost-wars going on, so far away, depleting our military and our government's budget. If I didn't want to think about the wars, I wouldn't have to, and that's crazy to me.  How is that possible?

I don't know the right answer. I only know it's not right.


I wonder sometimes if anything good came out of September 11th. For a long time, particularly under the Bush administration when our global reputation was so tainted and embarrassing, I would have said absolutely not.

But if nothing else, there is certainly a new global awareness that may not have existed without September 11th.  Books like Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Kite Runner became bestsellers, perhaps due to much of this country wanting to learn, in some innocuous fashion, about the other cultures out there.  Would those books have been so popular if those few other cultures hadn't been thrust into the limelight ten years ago?


I didn't celebrate when Osama Bin Laden was killed.

There, I said it.

I was glad he could no longer hurt others, and I was proud of President Obama for accomplishing what President Bush was never able to.

But I will never be comfortable celebrating a person's death, no matter who he was.  Because something made Osama Bin Laden a bad guy; something took him and morphed him into a cold-blooded killer. Whatever that something was, it still exists, and is creating more killers today.  

Plus there's something to be said for the devil you know, right?

Evil doesn't exist only in a vacuum, but in a vacuum, new evil always arises. 


I hurried home from my run so I could watch the memorial services at Ground Zero. Zoe played with Legos while Charles and I tried to focus on the television, but she kept asking questions.  

"Who are those men, Mommy?"
"Those are the bagpipers. They'll play pretty music in a minute."
"Bagpires? Are they bad, like vampires?"

The Brooklyn Youth Choir sang the national anthem.  Zoe listened, then grew excited towards the end.
"Mommy, that's the song we sing at baseball games!"
"Yep, that's called our national anthem."
"When will they get to the part about Cracker Jacks?"

Then finally, we tried to explain why we were watching the memorial, what it was honoring.  I explained about the towers falling, and Charles explained about the airplanes.  Then the camera panned across the new Freedom Towers, and she squealed.
"Mommy, I see the towers!"
"Yes, baby.  Those are the new towers."
"But when will the airplanes come?"

Ten years ago, there was no Charles in my life. There was no Zoe. Life has changed incredibly in ten years, and I'm so grateful for all the world has given me. Moving forward, I'll make sure that Zoe does understand what happened that day, but maybe not till she's a little older.  I'd like her to live in peace a while longer. 

I'd like us all to live in peace.

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