Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reflections on a Perfect, Fall Day

It's been an odd day.  Such perfect, beautiful, Fall weather, and all it seems to remind anyone of is that similarly beautiful Fall day 11 years ago.  Beautiful, that is, until horrible tragedy struck.

I was living with my parents in Rockville, MD, at the time, and sleeping in that morning since I didn't need to be at work until 5:00 pm.  My father actually woke me when he arrived home after being let out early, and I barely registered what he said when he poked his head in my bedroom and announced that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  I thought it to be a sad and terrible accident, and I paused for a moment to mourn the passing of those involved, but then laid my head back on the pillow.  It wasn't until my father poked his head in once again to announce that there were actually two planes involved, that I began to suspect something far more sinister.

I don't have particularly clear memories of that day.  Just flashes of live footage burned into my memory.  Victims diving to their deaths from the burning upper floors.  Chaos in the streets of New York.  The sudden collapse of the towers, one by one.  Audio clips from the cell transmissions of the brave passengers who ensured that their own tragic end did not reach beyond the fields of Pennsylvania.

And I never got a clear sense of how to feel.  It was all so far removed from me.  I knew no one involved personally, and I could hardly digest the reality of it all.  The rawest emotions that I have felt over the incident came years later, on the tenth anniversary, which I happened to spend up in New Jersey.  The Mass that Sunday was dedicated to the lives lost, and the families affected.  It was beautiful, and the rendering of Taps at the very end, followed by a dead silent recession, brought me to shivering tears.  And I further began to feel it all really sink in as I spent much of the evening watching the special programming that aired on the networks, and talking to some of Tom's family members, who were more directly affected.

So today was clouded over in sadness, despite the beauty and serenity to be found just outside of my window.  And I've spent nearly all of it in the stubborn companionship of The Headache that Won't Die.  Just in the last hour or so have I finally found relief.  Maybe because this haunting day is almost over.

The world went on as usual for my children, however, as it will continue to do.  I wonder what the events of 9/11 will come to mean to them, having happened so many years before their birth.  They will never know the before and after, only the after.  I just pray that the after is filled with hope, healing, and the continual maturation of mankind.

I was unsure whether I should even mention 9/11 in a post today, since the internet is flooded with so many beautifully-written accounts and relevant reflections.  I have no particular perspective to add, no interesting story to tell.  But it is my story, and one that I imagine I'll be telling my children someday.  That terrifying day when I must try to explain the reasons behind the very worst of human nature, all while attempting to show them the ways in which the resulting destruction can bring out the very best in human nature, as well.