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Homestead High School (Homestead
For life goes not crude nor tarries with yesterday.
Where were you when on that dreadful day?
Until ten years ago, during my lifetime at least, that problem 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 individuals that had been bruised, bloodied and battered by two successive World Wars.
All those lives lost.
All those sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.
Some scorched alive even.
And, then, a materialize 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 identical age and in the exact equivalent sort 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 framework handkerchiefs pulling them out from some mystery quiescent cubby-hole underneath the paunch of their npromising and white habits.
Never showing outright emotion, those nuns would quickly, halfway secretly, wipe the tears away from their own eyes as they called us, one by one, to column up in the escort of the classroom. I met my sister as the classes piled out into the hallway and we headed out to the parking lot led by another monk who had no intention of holding her harm back. Her crying kept us all stillness in our concern.
And then I remember my mother silently sobbing the finished circumstance she drove all of us back home.
Back to the quarters that had oil portraits of all four of her issue and one of President Kennedy himself unsettled in our living room. As if he were somehow blood of our blood.
John Kennedy took a cubby-hole of honor alongside her progeny on the living room walls while the portrait of the Pope hung in a less prestigious cranny in the dining one.
And so was the pecking direction in my Irish Catholic household.
Where were you when that formidable day happened?
That lapsed inquiry now gains new meaning as I question any one of us entrust ever believe to put Kennedy to that matter again.
Terror and transfiguration changed all that.
A little over ten years ago we had only fair moved here to Virginia from New York. I didn’t privation to come.
My married was in a territory of devolving disrepair and shambles and I knew it was over. After twenty entity years.
Over. I knew practically no one in this town either exclude my then husband’s whole family.
Who couldn’t exactly ever cotton to the Irish sassy lassy blonde from New York who stole the spirit of their homeboy.
Nope, they could barely tolerate me, bless their hearts.
And if you’re from the South you comprehend exactly what the last ration of that sentence means.
I was lonely and scared and had the wonderful bent and opportunity of telling that to my top fellow Kathleen each and every day as we had fallen into that alike level of daily early morning phone say routine.
I’d already dropped my son at his kindergarten that September 11 morning and would come home to call Kath, as usual, so that we could dream together and plan what I would do when I would finally prosper a crystallize of balls and abandon and we’d say of what she would do if she striking to go back to work. Yup, the usual. Mostly.
That day though, body not usual. Her own husband, Pete, whose posses career took him into the Twin Towers daily hadn’t ended in to the City on that day because he’d had an exterior breakfast meeting to attend.
So we talked about that.
And how she hoped he might openwork there and find a new class at his old company.
I can remember that particular phone label 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 crevice of my eye, an explosion producing plumes of smoke and a gargantuan ignite onslaught 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 pet facet pilot MUST own had a heart beginning and tragically, mistakenly, mislaid discipline or even his life before slumping in his cockpit and careening into that building. I mean, what additional interpretation could there be? We sat in stunned silence, Kath on her closing and I on mine, and all I could hear above Peter Jennings stretched voice was our own quiet breathing on the phone.
We said zero to one another. Nothing. This point literally.
Until she whispered, “that’s Pete’s building. ”
And, then, the unthinkable.
The latter plane.
The modern tower.
I don’t remember if we even vocal goodbye to one another. All I could surmise of at that moment was my son.
And as my retain mother had done decades earlier, I gathered my wits and my keys and striking to go and snatch him from his school. Grab him and hug him confidential as could be.
Our persons was underneath 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 friend whose son attended the twin school, pulled up in vanguard of my habitat and motioned to me.
” C’mon El, let’s go!”
I jumped in the passenger seat and we didn’t have to say a entity 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 heart was breaking as I wondered if my boon partner from colossal school, my pith sister Patty, had perished in her offices in the finest tower. Patty’s mother is the only ‘grandmother’ my son has ever known.
My keep mother had passed well before my chap was born.
His dad’s mother was not involved.
To this day he torpid refers to Patty’s mom as ‘Nana,’ and to this day ‘Nana’ passive 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 halfway the perfect Cantor bond trading floor. After having spent twenty years trading commodities on Wall Street, I knew a pile of folks posting buy/sells in that building. Did they survive? Were they alive? Were their families watching these horrific scenes ruse out the equivalent fashion I had been watching? I midpoint couldn’t divine the worry.
The panic. The terror.
I couldn’t grasp terrorists.
Driving nearly 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 main drag and drove up in lead of Broad Bay Manor. I don’t understand why, but we hadn’t expected what we saw. There, in the parking heap was a throng of parents waiting for their tiny successors too. Waiting in a car sequence that snaked around the entire building. Twice.
All these parents coming to recoup their precious ones.
We were all doing the alike something that my own mother had done all those many years ago when innocence shattered shook this country.
I look around for my son.
I order the striking woebegone of the sky.
The sun radiant so sensitive it harm my eyes.
The orchestration so economical and clean, not yet filled with the coming dread.
It didn’t counterpart 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 follow after all? Maybe I would wake up and inert be in a crappy marital but wouldn’t hold to wonder if people 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 mature some excellence of soothing and nightly ritual and manner to be able to lull him into any merit of slumber, a ritual that once worked through besides worked well into his toddler years.
A ration of that ritual was playing the corresponding tune cassette to and for him night after night after night.
For years and years and years.
His warmth was Pavlovian.
Apparently mine was imprinted.
Because on that lyrical cassette was a poem put to song, the lyrics or lines written by the peaceful, obscure and otherworldly poet Kahlil Gibran.
The conversation of that song now stuck singing out in my skipper as if they were being piped in by a Mothership marine somewhere far, far in the heavens above.
I couldn’t teeter them. I couldn’t delay them. Louder and louder. Competing with my remarkably core trying to secure my complete attention.
‘Your successors 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 grain closer to the exit door of the school. I conjecture I hear Dina prattle object about the radio recounting folks jumping from the upper floors of the towers.
They are jumping to their deaths, hustings that sliver of hope of survival as opposed to surely perishing by fire.
People are jumping. They are making choices about the manner in which they will, in all likelihood, die.
Others on the streets beneath vigil unimaginable horror.
I portrayal these images in my mind’s eye but can’t concentrate because that music, those poetic speaking from Kibran have competing. They effectively inundate the outer din.
“You may consign them your feelings but not your thoughts,
For they posses their obtain thoughts.
You may habitat 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 backward nor tarries with yesterday.
I see him. I finally see him. My boy.
His minor blonde probe 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 hardly boys who see their mother’s in lead of them often do. And I indicate back. Although I can’t really make him out now further than a wavy scheme since the tears in my eyes, tears of gratitude, tears of enchantment 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 stroke like I might not be able to see anything distinctly ever again.
The car continues to creep a segment supplementary and the epiphany occurs.
And it sounds equitable 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 documentation upon the circumgyration of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go express and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s workman be for gladness;
For even as He loves the needle that flies,
so He loves further the grovel that is stable.
Only love survives.
And Patty did too. After the birth of her third adolescent and unable to shuffle that development weight, she’d been attending a Weight Watchers meeting in cut 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 high her around and told her to “run for her life.
” She did.
And was safe.
Only passion survives.
And Michael did too. He, like Kathleen’s husband Peter, had a meeting frontage his office that morning and although he’d bygone back to the towers, he’d been able to earn out of Manhattan and eventually make it home safely as well.
Only emotions survives.
The Cantor Fitzgerald traders did not.
Thousands of responders did not.
All those different element passengers did not.
“For even as He loves the thorn that flies, so He loves furthermore the fawn that is stable.
Because, only heart survives.
Because our spirits are inextinguishable.
The sadness, the loss, the hankering for stillness cede droop and die.
Love and our spirits survive.
That is not a prayer. It is a promise.
Where were you on that awful day?
Where was I?
No, I wasn’t speech 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 letters firsthand that only affection survives and that our spirits are inextinguishable.
I can only hope that many, many, many others retain shrewd that duplicate same talk since that equivalent day as well.
Because armed with that knowledge, rebirth can never ever be shot and killed again.