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For life goes not illiterate nor tarries with yesterday.
Where were you when on that formidable day?
Until ten years ago, during my lifetime at least, that debate halfway always pertained to the day the shots rang out and killed Kennedy; his presidency the seeming figure of refreshed and restored hope to a nation that had been bruised, bloodied and battered by two following World Wars.
All those lives lost.
All those sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.
Some scorched alive even.
And, then, a transpire at rebirth.
Until shots rang out from a grassy hill and killed it.
On the day that John F. Kennedy was killed, ironically, I was the exact alike age and in the exact equivalent level as my son was on the day that the Twin Towers fell ten years ago. But all those many years earlier I was sitting and playing with Play Doh on a tiny worn and wooden desk. How do I remember that? I don’t know. I do, however, remember the Dominican sisters of Saint Aloysius cushioning us all up, one by one, as some took our hands while others reached for their framework handkerchiefs pulling them out from some puzzle latent vocation under the intestines of their threatening and white habits.
Never showing outright emotion, those nuns would quickly, midpoint secretly, wipe the tears away from their posses eyes as they called us, one by one, to chain up in the surpass of the classroom. I met my sister as the classes piled out into the hallway and we headed out to the parking collection led by another loner who had no intention of holding her harm back. Her crying kept us all tranquillity in our concern.
And then I remember my mother silently sobbing the full instance she drove all of us back home.
Back to the quarters that had oil portraits of all four of her progeny and one of President Kennedy himself unresolved in our living room. As if he were somehow blood of our blood.
John Kennedy took a cubby-hole of honor alongside her children on the living room walls while the portrait of the Pope hung in a less prestigious calling in the dining one.
And so was the pecking behest in my Irish Catholic household.
Where were you when that redoubtable day happened?
That terminated inquiry now gains new meaning as I question any one of us entrust ever think to put Kennedy to that question again.
Terror and transfiguration changed all that.
A hardly over ten years ago we had only unbiased moved here to Virginia from New York. I didn’t privation to come.
My matrimonial was in a state of devolving disrepair and shambles and I knew it was over. After twenty device years.
Over. I knew practically no one in this town either except my then husband’s absolute family.
Who couldn’t exactly ever cotton to the Irish sassy lassy blonde from New York who stole the centre of their homeboy.
Nope, they could barely tolerate me, bless their hearts.
And if you’re from the South you understand exactly what the last allowance of that sentence means.
I was lonely and scared and had the wonderful talent and opportunity of telling that to my top comrade Kathleen each and every day as we had fallen into that equivalent quality of daily early morning phone talk routine.
I’d already dropped my son at his kindergarten that September 11 morning and would come home to entitle Kath, as usual, so that we could dram together and expedient what I would do when I would finally grow a congeal of balls and discontinue and we’d gossip of what she would do if she blatant to go back to work. Yup, the usual. Mostly.
That day though, object not usual. Her hold husband, Pete, whose hold profession took him into the Twin Towers daily hadn’t bygone in to the City on that day because he’d had an frontage breakfast meeting to attend.
So we talked about that.
And how she hoped he might openwork there and find a new level at his former company.
I can remember that particular phone call and the ensuing events if it were yesterday.
I was sitting on my son’s bed and had ‘Good Morning America’ on the television in the background.
We were speech about nothing, she and I. Just nothing. As girlfriends on the phone often do. And, then, I spied, out of the corner of my eye, an explosion producing plumes of smoke and a gigantic burn beginning to engulf that finest tower. I sat transfixed to the television.
I stammered and stumbled off the boy’s bed and shakily told Kath to turn on her tv. I was pacing and I was POSITIVE that some homely plane co-pilot MUST have had a pith assault and tragically, mistakenly, mislaid discipline or even his life before slumping in his cockpit and careening into that building. I mean, what additional answer could there be? We sat in stunned silence, Kath on her modern and I on mine, and all I could hear above Peter Jennings strained voice was our keep hushed breathing on the phone.
We spoken zero to one another. Nothing. This instance literally.
Until she whispered, “that’s Pete’s building. ”
And, then, the unthinkable.
The end plane.
The closing tower.
I don’t remember if we even spoken goodbye to one another. All I could suppose of at that moment was my son.
And as my posses mother had done decades earlier, I gathered my wits and my keys and blatant to go and take him from his school. Grab him and squeeze him familiar as could be.
Our tribe was under attack. The Pentagon had not yet been hit and Todd Beamer and those heros hadn’t yet “rolled” and yet, intuitively, instinctively, I knew I had to be with my boy.
At the moment that I opened my govern door to leave, another man whose son attended the same school, pulled up in surpass of my quarters and motioned to me.
” C’mon El, let’s go!”
I jumped in the passenger seat and we didn’t posses to gibber a article to one another. The pain was palpable.
I was shaking. She was smoking. And then I started to cry.
And, then, so did she.
My spirit was breaking as I wondered if my finest man from colossal school, my pith sister Patty, had perished in her support in the boon tower. Patty’s mother is the only ‘grandmother’ my son has ever known.
My obtain mother had passed well before my schoolboy was born.
His dad’s mother was not involved.
To this day he dormant refers to Patty’s mom as ‘Nana,’ and to this day ‘Nana’ inert sends him a twenty dollar bill every Christmas.
I wondered if Ava’s husband Michael was in his office in the second tower that morning. I am the godmother to their youngeset daughter Paige.
My extended families.
And, then, there were the friends.
I knew almost the whole Cantor pledge trading floor. After having spent twenty years trading commodities on Wall Street, I knew a mound of connections posting buy/sells in that building. Did they survive? Were they alive? Were their families watching these horrific scenes ruse out the equivalent procedure I had been watching? I midpoint couldn’t perceive the worry.
The panic. The terror.
I couldn’t perceive terrorists.
Driving midpoint too slowly to the school, we sat, Dina and I stunned, sniffling, reveling, remembering (she’s from New York as well) until we took a left off the leading drag and drove up in escort of Broad Bay Manor. I don’t comprehend why, but we hadn’t expected what we saw. There, in the parking heap was a throng of parents waiting for their tiny progeny too. Waiting in a car queue that snaked around the whole building. Twice.
All these parents coming to indemnify their precious ones.
We were all doing the same item that my obtain mother had done all those many years ago when innocence shattered shook this country.
I look around for my son.
I notice the pronounced sorrowful of the sky.
The sun bright so willing it injure my eyes.
The rhythm so laconic and clean, not yet filled with the coming dread.
It didn’t equal up, the events I’d just witnessed and the almost Divine perfection of the day.
It didn’t go together. Maybe it wasn’t real? Maybe it didn’t befall after all? Maybe I would wake up and idle be in a crappy conjugal but wouldn’t have to wonder if connections I knew and loved had died without warning.
And it was then, waiting in what seemed to be an interminable car line, that all of a sudden a song from Grayson’s infancy began to play, over and over and over again in my head.
See, my son was not a behalf sleeper as a bitty baby.
I was forced to grow some quality of soothing and nightly ritual and means to be able to lull him into any merit of slumber, a ritual that once worked through furthermore worked well into his toddler years.
A quota of that ritual was playing the equivalent music cassette to and for him night after night after night.
For years and years and years.
His passion was Pavlovian.
Apparently mine was imprinted.
Because on that musical cassette was a poem put to song, the lyrics or lines written by the peaceful, esoteric and otherworldly poet Kahlil Gibran.
The language of that song now stuck singing out in my commander as if they were being piped in by a Mothership seagoing somewhere far, far in the heavens above.
I couldn’t shake them. I couldn’t delay them. Louder and louder. Competing with my thumping marrow trying to get my whole attention.
‘Your spawn are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s hankering for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. ”
We inch up a grain closer to the exit door of the school. I reckon I hear Dina prattle article about the radio recounting relatives jumping from the upper floors of the towers.
They are jumping to their deaths, choosing that sliver of hope of survival as opposed to surely perishing by fire.
People are jumping. They are forming choices about the way in which they will, in all likelihood, die.
Others on the streets under guard unimaginable horror.
I sketch these images in my mind’s eye but can’t concentrate because that music, those poetic words from Kibran keep competing. They effectively soak the outer din.
“You may grant them your emotions but not your thoughts,
For they obtain their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the quarters of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not benighted nor tarries with yesterday.
I see him. I finally see him. My boy.
His meagre blonde head pops up every once in awhile bobbing between the two taller boys that are sandwiching him. He looks so happy.
He looks so little.
He looks around.
And he sees me.
And he waves.
Like little boys who see their mother’s in front of them often do. And I wave back. Although I can’t really make him out now more than a wavy summary since the tears in my eyes, tears of gratitude, tears of elation at seeing him, tears of heartbreaking sadness and grief all converge and well up and deter me from really seeing anything, at all, clearly.
I observe like I might not be able to see anything markedly ever again.
The car continues to creep a bit more and the epiphany occurs.
And it sounds fair like the last lines of that Kibran poem:
“You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the orbit of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go rapid and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s drudge be for gladness;
For even as He loves the indicator that flies,
so He loves besides the kneel that is stable.
Only feelings survives.
And Patty did too. After the birth of her third child and unable to shake that pregnancy weight, she’d been attending a Weight Watchers meeting in diminish Manhattan when the tragedies took place.
She remembers leaving the weigh in to run back to her office because she’d left her purse there.
A few feet out that Weight Watcher’s door some stranger overripe her around and told her to “run for her life.
” She did.
And was safe.
Only emotions survives.
And Michael did too. He, like Kathleen’s husband Peter, had a meeting facade his office that morning and although he’d ended back to the towers, he’d been able to get out of Manhattan and eventually make it home safely as well.
Only affection survives.
The Cantor Fitzgerald traders did not.
Thousands of responders did not.
All those different feature passengers did not.
“For even as He loves the bodkin that flies, so He loves besides the grovel that is stable.
Because, only heart survives.
Because our spirits are inextinguishable.
The sadness, the loss, the longing for stillness will fade and die.
Love and our spirits survive.
That is not a prayer. It is a promise.
Where were you on that dreadful day?
Where was I?
No, I wasn’t language to Kathleen on the phone or watching Peter Jennings on tv. I wasn’t with Dina driving down Great Neck Road or selection up my oblivious son from school. I wasn’t worrying and wondering about Patty, Peter, Michael or all the many others I knew working inside those two towers.
I was erudition firsthand that only passion survives and that our spirits are inextinguishable.
I can only hope that many, many, many others have learned that corresponding same sermon since that duplicate day as well.
Because armed with that knowledge, rebirth can never ever be shot and killed again.