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For life goes not crude nor tarries with yesterday.
Where were you when on that fearsome day?
Until ten years ago, during my lifetime at least, that question nearly always pertained to the day the shots rang out and killed Kennedy; his presidency the seeming digit of refreshed and restored hope to a humans that had been bruised, bloodied and battered by two succeeding World Wars.
All those lives lost.
All those sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.
Some desiccated alive even.
And, then, a befall at rebirth.
Until shots rang out from a grassy mound and killed it.
On the day that John F. Kennedy was killed, ironically, I was the exact corresponding age and in the exact alike 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 inactive alcove below the abdomen of their npromising and white habits.
Never showing outright emotion, those nuns would quickly, halfway secretly, wipe the tears away from their posses eyes as they called us, one by one, to string 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 mound led by another recluse who had no intention of holding her maul back. Her crying kept us all quiet in our concern.
And then I remember my mother silently sobbing the whole case she drove all of us back home.
Back to the house that had oil portraits of all four of her children and one of President Kennedy himself hanging in our living room. As if he were somehow blood of our blood.
John Kennedy took a cubby-hole of honor alongside her successors 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 old inquiry now gains new meaning as I question any one of us cede ever believe to put Kennedy to that problem again.
Terror and transfiguration changed all that.
A scarcely over ten years ago we had only equitable moved here to Virginia from New York. I didn’t privation to come.
My matrimonial was in a field 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 eliminate my then husband’s flawless family.
Who couldn’t exactly ever cotton to the Irish sassy lassy blonde from New York who stole the pith of their homeboy.
Nope, they could barely tolerate me, bless their hearts.
And if you’re from the South you notice exactly what the last share of that sentence means.
I was lonely and scared and had the wonderful talent and opportunity of telling that to my finest person Kathleen each and every day as we had fallen into that equivalent superiority of daily early morning phone gossip routine.
I’d already dropped my son at his kindergarten that September 11 morning and would come home to dub Kath, as usual, so that we could vision together and trick what I would do when I would finally evolve a jell of balls and quit and we’d natter of what she would do if she blatant to go back to work. Yup, the usual. Mostly.
That day though, item not usual. Her obtain husband, Pete, whose keep employment took him into the Twin Towers daily hadn’t gone in to the City on that day because he’d had an front breakfast meeting to attend.
So we talked about that.
And how she hoped he might trellis there and find a new class at his lapsed company.
I can remember that particular phone christen 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 conversation about nothing, she and I. Just nothing. As girlfriends on the phone often do. And, then, I spied, out of the crevice of my eye, an explosion producing plumes of smoke and a giant ignite charge to engulf that prime 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 internal feature aeronaut MUST posses had a spirit onslaught and tragically, mistakenly, gone control or even his life before slumping in his cockpit and careening into that building. I mean, what further guide could there be? We sat in stunned silence, Kath on her closing and I on mine, and all I could hear above Peter Jennings anxious voice was our retain noiseless breathing on the phone.
We spoken nil to one another. Nothing. This point literally.
Until she whispered, “that’s Pete’s building. ”
And, then, the unthinkable.
The latter plane.
The end tower.
I don’t remember if we even said goodbye to one another. All I could conjecture of at that moment was my son.
And as my keep mother had done decades earlier, I gathered my wits and my keys and noted to go and snatch him from his school. Grab him and squeeze him known as could be.
Our nation was below 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 prompt door to leave, another partner whose son attended the duplicate school, pulled up in front of my habitat and motioned to me.
” C’mon El, let’s go!”
I jumped in the passenger seat and we didn’t retain to prattle a body 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 kernel was breaking as I wondered if my elite individual from big school, my centre sister Patty, had perished in her assistance in the prime tower. Patty’s mother is the only ‘grandmother’ my son has ever known.
My have mother had passed well before my man was born.
His dad’s mother was not involved.
To this day he idle refers to Patty’s mom as ‘Nana,’ and to this day ‘Nana’ dormant sends him a twenty dollar booklet every Christmas.
I wondered if Ava’s husband Michael was in his office in the modern tower that morning. I am the godmother to their youngeset daughter Paige.
My extended families.
And, then, there were the friends.
I knew nearly the absolute Cantor oath trading floor. After having spent twenty years trading commodities on Wall Street, I knew a stockpile of connections posting buy/sells in that building. Did they survive? Were they alive? Were their families watching these horrific scenes stratagem out the same fashion I had been watching? I halfway couldn’t perceive the worry.
The panic. The terror.
I couldn’t plumb terrorists.
Driving almost 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 highest drag and drove up in vanguard of Broad Bay Manor. I don’t perceive why, but we hadn’t expected what we saw. There, in the parking heap was a throng of parents waiting for their tiny descendants too. Waiting in a car row that snaked around the flawless building. Twice.
All these parents coming to regain their precious ones.
We were all doing the duplicate thing that my hold mother had done all those many years ago when innocence shattered shook this country.
I look around for my son.
I ordinance the noted sorrowful of the sky.
The sun bright so open it misuse my eyes.
The melody so laconic and clean, not yet filled with the coming dread.
It didn’t duplicate up, the events I’d unbiased witnessed and the partly Divine perfection of the day.
It didn’t go together. Maybe it wasn’t real? Maybe it didn’t ensue after all? Maybe I would wake up and stagnant be in a crappy married but wouldn’t hold to wonder if kin 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 sake sleeper as a bitty baby.
I was forced to generate some merit of soothing and nightly ritual and method to be able to lull him into any excellence of slumber, a ritual that once worked through besides worked well into his toddler years.
A allocation of that ritual was playing the equivalent air cassette to and for him night after night after night.
For years and years and years.
His response was Pavlovian.
Apparently mine was imprinted.
Because on that mellifluous cassette was a poem put to song, the lyrics or lines written by the peaceful, obscure and otherworldly poet Kahlil Gibran.
The speaking of that song now stuck singing out in my head as if they were being piped in by a Mothership maritime somewhere far, far in the heavens above.
I couldn’t shamble them. I couldn’t cease them. Louder and louder. Competing with my remarkably core trying to obtain my finished attention.
‘Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing 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 bite closer to the exit door of the school. I suppose I hear Dina prattle entity about the radio recounting folks jumping from the upper floors of the towers.
They are jumping to their deaths, poll that sliver of hope of survival as opposed to surely perishing by fire.
People are jumping. They are forging choices about the fashion in which they will, in all likelihood, die.
Others on the streets unbefitting guard unimaginable horror.
I sketch these images in my mind’s eye but can’t concentrate because that music, those poetic talking from Kibran obtain competing. They effectively inundate the outer din.
“You may consign them your feelings but not your thoughts,
For they keep their keep thoughts.
You may quarters their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the dwelling 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 prompt of them often do. And I motion back. Although I can’t really make him out now further than a wavy summary since the tears in my eyes, tears of gratitude, tears of rhapsody at seeing him, tears of heartbreaking sadness and grief all converge and well up and discourage me from really seeing anything, at all, clearly.
I touch like I might not be able to see anything markedly ever again.
The car continues to creep a segment additional and the epiphany occurs.
And it sounds moderate 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 course of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go quick and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s labourer be for gladness;
For even as He loves the indicator that flies,
so He loves also the genuflect that is stable.
Only passion survives.
And Patty did too. After the birth of her third infant and unable to totter that development weight, she’d been attending a Weight Watchers meeting in reduce 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 turned her around and told her to “run for her life.
” She did.
And was safe.
Only affection survives.
And Michael did too. He, like Kathleen’s husband Peter, had a meeting face his office that morning and although he’d gone back to the towers, he’d been able to achieve out of Manhattan and eventually make it home safely as well.
Only passion survives.
The Cantor Fitzgerald traders did not.
Thousands of responders did not.
All those different angle passengers did not.
“For even as He loves the needle that flies, so He loves furthermore the fawn that is stable.
Because, only love survives.
Because our spirits are inextinguishable.
The sadness, the loss, the hunger for quiet entrust 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 utterance to Kathleen on the phone or watching Peter Jennings on tv. I wasn’t with Dina driving down Great Neck Road or picking 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 education firsthand that only affection survives and that our spirits are inextinguishable.
I can only hope that many, many, many others own intelligent that equivalent same address since that corresponding day as well.
Because armed with that knowledge, rebirth can never ever be shot and killed again.