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For life goes not illiterate nor tarries with yesterday.
Where were you when on that terrible day?
Until ten years ago, during my lifetime at least, that interrogation partly always pertained to the day the shots rang out and killed Kennedy; his presidency the seeming figure of refreshed and restored hope to a tribe that had been bruised, bloodied and battered by two sequential World Wars.
All those lives lost.
All those sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.
Some baked alive even.
And, then, a chance at rebirth.
Until shots rang out from a grassy knoll and killed it.
On the day that John F. Kennedy was killed, ironically, I was the exact alike age and in the exact equivalent standard 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 lining us all up, one by one, as some took our hands while others reached for their cloth handkerchiefs pulling them out from some secret quiescent place unbefitting the stomach of their black and white habits.
Never showing outright emotion, those nuns would quickly, nearly secretly, wipe the tears away from their keep eyes as they called us, one by one, to column up in the bob of the classroom. I met my sister as the classes piled out into the hallway and we headed out to the parking mountain led by another recluse who had no intention of holding her molest back. Her crying kept us all quiet in our concern.
And then I remember my mother silently sobbing the whole circumstance she drove all of us back home.
Back to the domicile that had oil portraits of all four of her heirs and one of President Kennedy himself unresolved in our living room. As if he were somehow blood of our blood.
John Kennedy took a calling of honor alongside her children on the living room walls while the portrait of the Pope hung in a less prestigious cubby-hole in the dining one.
And so was the pecking order in my Irish Catholic household.
Where were you when that fearsome day happened?
That expired inquiry now gains new meaning as I mistrust any one of us consign ever reckon to put Kennedy to that problem again.
Terror and transfiguration changed all that.
A seldom over ten years ago we had only unbiased moved here to Virginia from New York. I didn’t deprivation to come.
My marriage was in a field of devolving disrepair and shambles and I knew it was over. After twenty article years.
Over. I knew practically no one in this town either except my then husband’s flawless family.
Who couldn’t exactly ever cotton to the Irish sassy lassy blonde from New York who stole the gist 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 slice of that sentence means.
I was lonely and scared and had the wonderful capacity and opportunity of telling that to my top partner Kathleen each and every day as we had fallen into that equivalent sort of daily early morning phone speak routine.
I’d already dropped my son at his kindergarten that September 11 morning and would come home to label Kath, as usual, so that we could dram together and ploy what I would do when I would finally establish a congeal of balls and abandon and we’d speak of what she would do if she marked to go back to work. Yup, the usual. Mostly.
That day though, entity not usual. Her keep husband, Pete, whose hold career took him into the Twin Towers daily hadn’t former in to the City on that day because he’d had an facade breakfast meeting to attend.
So we talked about that.
And how she hoped he might framework there and find a new level at his lapsed 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 speaking 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 fire onslaught to engulf that elite 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 facet commander MUST retain had a heart inception and tragically, mistakenly, lost master or even his life before slumping in his cockpit and careening into that building. I mean, what further explanation could there be? We sat in stunned silence, Kath on her latter and I on mine, and all I could hear above Peter Jennings uneasy voice was our posses soundless breathing on the phone.
We said nothing to one another. Nothing. This point literally.
Until she whispered, “that’s Pete’s building. ”
And, then, the unthinkable.
The later plane.
The modern 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 decided to go and catch him from his school. Grab him and hold him known as could be.
Our people 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 lead door to leave, another individual whose son attended the corresponding school, pulled up in prompt 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 prate a item 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 best friend from big school, my pith sister Patty, had perished in her backing in the elite tower. Patty’s mother is the only ‘grandmother’ my son has ever known.
My posses 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’ still sends him a twenty dollar bill every Christmas.
I wondered if Ava’s husband Michael was in his office in the latter 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 absolute Cantor vow trading floor. After having spent twenty years trading commodities on Wall Street, I knew a heap of kinsfolk posting buy/sells in that building. Did they survive? Were they alive? Were their families watching these horrific scenes machination out the identical method I had been watching? I nearly couldn’t sound the worry.
The panic. The terror.
I couldn’t perceive 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 prime drag and drove up in prompt 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 family too. Waiting in a car succession that snaked around the whole building. Twice.
All these parents coming to compensate their precious ones.
We were all doing the duplicate phenomenon that my own mother had done all those many years ago when innocence shattered shook this country.
I look around for my son.
I command the marked miserable of the sky.
The sun luminous so flexible it hurt my eyes.
The tune so brief and clean, not yet filled with the coming dread.
It didn’t match up, the events I’d moderate witnessed and the nearly Divine perfection of the day.
It didn’t go together. Maybe it wasn’t real? Maybe it didn’t happen after all? Maybe I would wake up and idle be in a crappy connubial but wouldn’t own 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 advantage sleeper as a bitty baby.
I was forced to mature some merit of soothing and nightly ritual and method to be able to lull him into any sort of slumber, a ritual that once worked through besides worked well into his toddler years.
A allocation of that ritual was playing the same tune cassette to and for him night after night after night.
For years and years and years.
His feeling was Pavlovian.
Apparently mine was imprinted.
Because on that euphonious cassette was a poem put to song, the lyrics or lines written by the peaceful, abstruse and otherworldly poet Kahlil Gibran.
The language of that song now stuck singing out in my master as if they were being piped in by a Mothership sailing somewhere far, far in the heavens above.
I couldn’t shake them. I couldn’t desist them. Louder and louder. Competing with my extraordinary core trying to procure my flawless attention.
‘Your offspring are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s desire 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 crumb closer to the exit door of the school. I believe I hear Dina chatter thing about the radio recounting folks jumping from the upper floors of the towers.
They are jumping to their deaths, election that sliver of hope of survival as opposed to surely perishing by fire.
People are jumping. They are making choices about the procedure in which they will, in all likelihood, die.
Others on the streets below patrol unimaginable horror.
I illustration these images in my mind’s eye but can’t concentrate because that music, those poetic conversation from Kibran posses competing. They effectively drown the outer din.
“You may present them your passion but not your thoughts,
For they own their hold thoughts.
You may abode their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the habitat 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 illiterate nor tarries with yesterday.
I see him. I finally see him. My boy.
His meagre blonde leader 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 seldom boys who see their mother’s in bob of them often do. And I gesticulate back. Although I can’t really make him out now other than a wavy synopsis 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 discourage me from really seeing anything, at all, clearly.
I feel like I might not be able to see anything clearly ever again.
The car continues to creep a grain additional and the epiphany occurs.
And it sounds just 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 tag upon the course of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go speedy and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s workman be for gladness;
For even as He loves the darner that flies,
so He loves besides the toady that is stable.
Only heart survives.
And Patty did too. After the birth of her third adolescent and unable to totter that gestation 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 appearance his office that morning and although he’d elapsed back to the towers, he’d been able to achieve 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 slant passengers did not.
“For even as He loves the needle that flies, so He loves moreover the kneel that is stable.
Because, only emotions survives.
Because our spirits are inextinguishable.
The sadness, the loss, the craving for calmness cede droop and die.
Love and our spirits survive.
That is not a prayer. It is a promise.
Where were you on that powerful day?
Where was I?
No, I wasn’t conversation to Kathleen on the phone or watching Peter Jennings on tv. I wasn’t with Dina driving down Great Neck Road or choosing 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 knowledge firsthand that only affection survives and that our spirits are inextinguishable.
I can only hope that many, many, many others posses intelligent that duplicate same lesson since that same day as well.
Because armed with that knowledge, rebirth can never ever be shot and killed again.