9/11 – twenty years later

I’m not adding a picture to this post. If I wanted to, I could dig out an old photo album and scan a picture I took in 1992.

The year I spent spring break in New York City on a tour led by the head of the theatre department where I was going to college at.

The year I ate brunch at Windows on the World at the top of the North Tower.

The year I stood with my nose and toes pressed against the glass as we waited to be seated, staring out across the skyline.

I came back from the trip. Graduated college, moved back to Washington state. Got some odd jobs that barely paid my bills, met my husband.

We got married, had our daughter, and bought our second condo by 2001. I transitioned to stay at home mom. We found out I was pregnant with our son.

Life had moved on. The trip, the memories, had fallen to other parts of my brain where I didn’t think on them for years.

Twenty years ago, I was in bed while our daughter ran around it. I’d throw a nerf ball at her. She’d giggle, grab it from the floor, and throw it back at me. This was a game we played almost every morning.

The phone rang. It was my mother, telling me to turn on the television.

As I watched the horror unfold, barely able to grasp what I was seeing, the memories of my trip came flooding back. Especially standing at the huge windows.

I was remembering faces of the wait staff….the pattern on the silverware….the color of the plates and table linens. And realized, with absolutely certainty, that any of those people who were at work that morning were now dead.

A number of things in my life have changed in the last twenty years. I’m a novelist now. My children are grown. The daughter who squealed with delight at me ‘missing’ her with the ball is now an electrical engineer who starts her working career on Monday. The son I was pregnant with (and who was born 6 months later) is in college, following his passion for art, and becoming the man I’m proud to call my son.

We’ve lost cats, gained new ones. Moved from that condo to a house. Cars have been bought, sold, and wrecked. Surgeries have happened, and parents buried.

Yet I still hesitate at looking at that photo album. Not because of fear. But rather a sense of reverence.

As long as I only remember the good things about the trip, those I never knew the name of are still alive in some way. To look at those photographs, see the Twin Towers in them, I wonder if I’ve done enough in the last twenty years to honor them.

We can’t honor the dead through hatred or lies. We honor them with love, acceptance, and caring for each other. We honor them not by living in fear, but daring to be our best selves. Holding to the truth that is our lives instead lessening ourselves to meet the demands of others.

They died in an act of hatred and intolerance. I cannot honor them if I follow the same Path.

BB/Chan Eil Eagal Orm

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