NOTE: This is a re-print of an entry I wrote on 9/11/03. Since it continues to reflect my feelings about this grave date (although I no longer live overlooking the ocean), I decided to run it again in its entirety on this the
7th 10th anniversary of that awful day.
It is pouring outside today. The sky is flat, gray, heavy, its lifelessness mirrored on the dull ocean in front of my house. The horizon hides behind a veil of mist. It is as if the weather is directing me to remember, to honor this day by remaining focused on my home, my family, and the memories we share from having lived through this day together.
My big decision this morning has been whether to treat this as any other day: whether to blog as I usually do and run errands that need to be run, or whether I should spend it wrapped in sorrow, contemplation, a sad 24 hours that might somehow honor those whose lives were taken from them.
I do not need a day on the calendar to make me mourn. I do not need TV programs and sad-faced announcers garbed in black to recall those who fell on this date, or those who came before them – or since – in this fight for freedom. I need no magazine covers inciting my anger, no dusty poems dragged out from college textbooks to express this strange mingled sense of loss and rage. I live with those feelings every day: they are a part of my soul now, a part of our national soul. We are no longer innocent. We are no longer carefree. We are remarkable for making this sadness a part of us, and yet defiantly and exuberantly carrying on.
Note: I did not say “move on.” Quite the opposite, in fact. I want us to stay here, in this moment, filled with the rage which makes us recognize so very clearly the irrational foe who seeks our destruction. I want us to somberly reflect on the effects of our blind “tolerance,” our misguided sympathies for “root causes” and our decades of ignoring that this very same battle is waged constantly across the globe, this battle between freedom and fanatics, only we no longer have the smug comfort of believing it will never touch us. I want us to contain this knowledge within us every day, and to go on with our lives while holding it close in our hearts.
I do not want a calendar or a clock telling me when to remember and when to tuck my memories away until the next time the day rolls around, year after year, ad infinitum. This horror, this anger, this outrage is part of my life now. It is part of every day, and it will be as long as there is something over which I should be so inflamed.
My life was changed that day. Admitting that fact is not “letting the terrorists win” – it is telling them that I remember what they did and yet I can blog, I can run errands, I can swim in the sad-colored water and enjoy the feel of it on my skin, I can laugh with my husband and play on the floor with my son. I can live this day as if it were any other, even as they continue their threats, their promises of greater evil and more life-shattering deeds. But they will not change my life. I will keep living because I have seen what they are capable of, I have seen the worst they’ve been able to do, and the horror makes freedom taste that much sweeter.
If there is a “message to the world” to be read in the blazing skies on September 11, 2001, it is this: that pride will always overcome terror, that joy will always survive despair, and that freedom is not encased in walls of cement and steel but in the hearts of those who can smile even as their faces are covered in ashes.