While slipping on shoes to go to work, a random thought: these will be the shoes I'll be wearing today if somebody rams my car and kills me, or if there's an accident and I have to walk home, or if I must flee a burning building. "What a strange thing to think" says the logical side of my brain.
"Well, it's the truth" mutters the emotional side, which seems to have wrestled the logical side to the ground this morning, immobilizing it with a choke hold. We are all so vulnerable, both young and old. How do we stand it?
Watching the aftermath of the explosion in Oklahoma years ago, trying to explain the unexplainable to 28 children as images go across the screen of bloody, burnt babies being tenderly carried by firemen. It was on day after day on "channel 1" a 14 minute news show that we were required to have our class watch each morning. It was the school's way of repaying Channel 1 for supplying us with a tv for every room. It was in the contract.
After a couple of days, I could no longer bear beginning every day by subjecting children to constant reminders that their world is not a safe place, that they could die at any minute at the hands of some crazy person who got the instructions for building a bomb off the internet. I did not turn on Channel 1 news.
Some kids fret "won't we get in trouble for not watching it? What if they come take the tv away? Others are visibly relieved at not having it all pushed in their faces at 7:30am. Whispers are heard in the hall "their class doesn't have to watch channel 1". No channel 1 troops storm the school, tvs are not confiscated. Time marches on and the lucky ones forget, but most of us sport souls that, if studied carefully, still exhibit scars from the horror of it all.
Then comes 9/11 and buildings crash down again, this time after planes crash into them on purpose. I was so glad not to be in a classroom that day. A 2-year old says "Please, granny, sit by my bed while I sleep so the planes won't crash into our house." TWO YEARS OLD and she's worrying about this??? It is just so wrong.
As the anniversary of the tragedy is coming near, I'm torn with conflicting emotions. One is excitement because I'll be surrounded by loved ones soon as we celebrate my birthday. The other is despair for the families who lost their loved ones the day after my birthday. Their lives were forever changed, as were the lives of most of us.
We lost our innocence, our assumption that living in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, would keep us safe. Sounds trite because it has been said so many times before, but it is true.
"Oh, let's all wear red on Fridays! Let's all fly the flag on the 11th! Drive with your headlights on during the day to show you remember 9/11" These are the forwards that are swooping into my mailbox like mosquitoes to the tender skin of a baby. Sure, we can do all that, and will do all that, but it won't bring those people back.
"Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain, I've seen sunny days when I could not find a friend... but I always thought I'd see you baby, one more time again..." The voice of James Taylor singing this song in N.Y. at the concert in the park to honor the victims of 9/11 will always echo in my mind.
It had only been a few days since it happened... people were afraid to gather in large groups because who knew if another madman would come attack, but these souls gathered anyway. All around the country we joined them in honoring the survivors and remembering those who perished. James (yes, I can call him that, he has been part of my life for decades) sang and I sobbed, fetal position in the recliner with a quilt pulled up to my nose. DH looked slightly puzzled.
I think some of us feel things more deeply than others. We are more aware that we never know when we could lose the ones we love, or could be lost ourselves. Does this mean we are anxious? depressed? overly emotional? "Just shake it off" we may be told. "It wasn't even anybody you knew."
Well, no, but it could've been. my son. my daughter. my granddaughters. my sister. the list goes on... those people in Oklahoma... in New York city... had no idea, when they left home, that they would not be coming back.
Sometimes it's almost too much to bear.