why i hate this day

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I hate today.

Twelve years ago today, I watched 9/11 news coverage in an ICU waiting room, waiting for my grandmother to die.  I was in my early 20's, and I was with my sister, who was in high school.  The weight of our own loss alongside the weight of the nation's loss was incomprehensible and surreal.  After several hours, my  sister finally found the remote and changed the channel.  We watched Gilligan's Island instead.

It was awful, and to be honest, I'd rather not relive it.  But every year on September 11, people post where they were  when the towers fell.  I ignore the blog posts and avoid Facebook, but I still think back to that waiting room, and the weight of death all around me.

On September 11, 2001, the towers fell, and thousands of people died.  And my grandmother, an active, vibrant woman who was the pulse of her tribe, was on life support with no meaningful brain activity left.  But that day is not just about evil  and loss.  We watched the guys who write tickets and show up at fender benders run into incomprehensible  destruction, and it changed our very definition of a hero.  It was the kind of day when the ground shifts, and there's no going back.  Yet there was also beauty and heroism that day. After watching something so overwhelming unfold in real time, we consume media differently.  We understand the psychology of evil better.  And in future horrors, such as the Newtown shootings, we look for the acts of sacrifice and love rather than focusing on the perpetrator.  Some of us even turn off the tv on purpose, because we understand now the impact of media and tragedies on our personal well-being.  

(photo taken from Facebook, credit unknown)
In the following weeks we witnessed the defining moments of a Presidency, and began a debate on the complexities of the Middle East and war that has never been resolved.  We learned, firsthand, what it is like to no longer assume we are untouchable.  We saw an economy soar, then tank.  All because of September 11.

The nation changed.  My life changed.  While NYC held memorials for bodies they would never find, I helped plan a funeral for one of the most influential people in my life. Twelve years later, the magnitude of this date still overwhelms me.  And just as our grandparents revered December 7, those who were alive in 2001 will always remember where they were on September 11.

Still, I hate this day.  



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