Not unlike so many others the fifth anniversary of September 11 has been weighing upon me. I have been mulling over my thoughts and feelings and trying to decide what to say. I feel the weight of the moment and it makes me uneasy.
I have waded through hundreds of thousands of words that others have written, listened to audio clips of the day and spent far too much time watching video. My goal is to share my thoughts with you and to do so with as much eloquence and dignity as I can muster.
I am a decent writer, but others are far better than I am so I will leave the longer essays in their capable hands. As for the video, well I think that this time around I'll let others posts their tributes/comments/criticisms on their own sites.
If you are interested in that kind of thing you might want to click here.
It was a Tuesday morning. Here in LA it was like many other mornings but this time my routine was interrupted by a call from my employer. She let me know that there had been an attack and that the office was going to be closed.
When I turned on the television my jaw dropped. I sat there transfixed by the sight of the planes crashing into the towers and the eventual collapse. I was dumbstruck by it all. But what I remember most of all is rather simple.
As I sat on the couch trying to process it all my son played. He was ten months old and oblivious to the pictures of the carnage. He held colored blocks and studied them. He grabbed stuffed animals and hugged them. He took toy cars and banged them on the floor and all the while the television showed the bodies falling from the sky.
The bodies fell awkwardly through the air. Some were still and some moved every which way, as if they were desperately trying to learn how to fly.
The bodies fell and he continued to play. The bodies fell and I stared at him. He was oblivious to it all. I felt guilty and relieved. Guilty because I knew that the people I saw on television were important to someone. A wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a father, a son and or brother.
They were people, but from 3000 miles away they were like specks.
I remember picking up the big boy from the floor. He smiled at me and pulled on my hair. I smiled back and hugged him tightly. I held him in my arms and prayed that the war would end before he was old enough to be at risk.
And now five years later he is old enough to be quite aware of the world around him. We have worked hard to maintain his innocence so that he might be a child for as long as possible. In many ways we have succeeded, but I worry that come monday morning that might change.
I have other 911 stories about the people I knew in the city and the things that happened to them. I was pretty lucky. 911 cost me a lot of money, but that is nothing compared to others.
This summer I was forced to spend some time explaining war to him. This summer he lost a little bit more of his innocence. I am hopeful that Monday will not take more from him.
The picture below is a personal favorite of mine. To me it is a reminder of hope and a symbol that we may have had our nose bloodied but we were not broken. Right now there is a lot of acrimony and partisan bickering, but Osama and company better remember that there is no dispute here about finding them.
There is a long memory and G-d willing they will all be brought to justice. In the interim I offer my own hope and fervent desire that we see a speedy end to the various wars and conflicts and that the coming year is one of peace.
"When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'." — Groucho Marx
As The Bodies Fell- He Played
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Your written illustration of the dichotomy of your baby playing against the backdrop of the 9-11 disaster as it was happening is excellently written. I also realized I never added you to my blogroll - am doing that now (sorry about that..)
As usual, your writting is clear and lovely, for that matter. I agree, that it makes the event even more painful seeing it in the shadow of your own children's lives.
Jack, my heart sank reading your description of that morning. I remember it with clarity as well. My children were plenty old enough, and having to tell them what was happening, was horribly painful.
Very nicely written... as always. My daughter was 13 months old at the time, yet she'd only been with us for 4 months. I prayed hard that day that we had not saved her from own country to only be hurt here. It was SUCH an emotional day.
I read this yesterday and didn't comment because I felt I didn't have anything worthy to say. But the image of your son playing on the floor while you watch the people jumping from the buildings has been running through my mind all day. It's so very powerful.
Our children have a way of magnifying experiences for us, don't they.
It must have been very hard.
It was a very tough day.
It really is the overwhelming memory of the day, there are others, but this one lasts in a way that they do not.
Jack, even when I disagree with what you write I always find your writing insightful, thought-provoking, and well done. In this case you have written a very deep-felt remembrance. It moved me. Innocence, once lost, is never regained. That's all a part of 'growing up'.
But a certain amount of innocence can be kept. With Love.
I appreciate that. At this point you have become part of the blog family. I appreciate your comments and your participation here, it means something.
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