To say goodbye to you


   It had been a clear comfortable day outside yesterday. Football on the tv in the afternoon with many intermissions for me. Yes they were intermissions. It wasn’t half time. It was me taking a break to go outside and enjoy the day with my dogs. Late in the afternoon  I look at the screen as I hear actual recordings of the air waves from 9-11-2001. Minutes into it as I watched the footage the trembling began. It’s a reaction I’ve had since that day whenever it is brought to life again. I had held together that day. I imagine this is one of those times when everyone remembers exactly where they were when they found out about the attacks. I was at work in a doctor’s office, getting ready for the usual day. The waiting room started welcoming people during the previous hour.  There was an audible gasp I heard in the hallway as I buzzed from room to room setting up. Quickly I came into the waiting room. I had left the door open to the hallway so I could hear as people came in and if anyone needed help. A middle aged woman was sitting paler than she was earlier when I first greeted her that morning. Her hands were up to her mouth and tears were welling up in her eyes. As we watched together, it seemed surreal. After the second plane hit and it was clear to be an attack, I thought this is what it had to feel like upon hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor… except these were citizens, people just going about their days. These weren’t the wealthy upper echelon who make money on the backs of others. These were the others who worked to keep the wheels turning in industry, in banking. These were our commoners and I thought that it bore similarities to the attacks on London in WWII. Only this was something so unsuspected by the American public. Up until this point we had not known what it was like to watch the actions of fanatics killing thousands of people so blatantly in broad daylight in such a public way. The lady in the waiting room looked far worse for the wear and as I took her blood pressur, it became clear to me it was time to remove her from the waiting  room. I took her to a room took down some information and put a call in to the doctor to ask that she attempt to get to the office ASAP and that if she was unable to do so then I would have to call for an ambulance for this woman. I then went into the waiting room and asked those who were waiting if they would rather we change the channel. Their need for information kept them captive none opted to leave the room or to have the channel changed. Who could have gone about as though they hadn’t witnessed such horror and with the question of what else was unfolding? We watched in horror as the first tower fell. As those around me asked each other- and themselves really- how could this be, I found myself wondering about those aboard the planes. Were their families seeing this unfold? They didn’t know at the time of impact what planes they were but I knew this would play again and again. I wondered about their last moments of life. How many had seen what was about to happen? What horrors had they witnessed on board before this happened? Did they have time to kiss someone they loved or hug someone next to them before their end? Did they feel at peace as they prayed or had they been overwhelmed with panic? Had they all been able to hug and kiss those they loved before leaving on their journeys that day? (I thought of this as I  had not been able to hug my dad goodbye before leaving for school on the last day of his life as he was not yet up and around. I always had done so and this haunted me for years.) I prayed they were all at peace and I prayed for the families of the untold numbers inside the building and for all those emergency workers as we watched them flood into the area, into the towers. At that point I had not realized the tragedy of their bravery. When the second tower fell I felt brought to my knees. As I watched it seemed that with all the debris, the humanity within, the immense amount of ash were flowing the very tears of God and mankind. The biblical passage, :He wept.” came to mind amid the chaos of words and emotions buzzing all around me at this point. I went about my duties. I tried to be present in the moment of my work and not just go through the motions. I tried to make those who were there that day feel cared for- as they were. As I looked into each set of eyes I thought of the preciousness of having the honor to care for them, to be their nurse that day. (I always found it funny to hear of myself referred to as the doctor’s nurse. I worked for and with her- but I saw myself as their nurse.) I always tried to teach my kids that everyone was somebody’s someone. In thinking of this I had a thought I could not share. I thought of the families of those who had done this knowing they were also taking their lives. I thought of their parents, their children, their spouses. Had they known their loved ones were going of to do such a hateful act? Had they known when they gave their last hug to them? This personal type of pain was not something anyone wanted to allow themselves to soften their thinking enough to have any kind of empathy for anyone involved in the committing of this terrible thing. Not even if they didn’t know about it. NOt even if they weren’t of the same ideology. The country hated at that moment and did not want it clouded up with anything more complex. The country had been caught off guard and this feeling of being vulnerable was a frightening experience. By the time word came out about the Pentagon, we all began to wonder just how vulnerable we now were. We wondered if there would be an end to this attack or was it the beginning of an onslaught, a take over. Would our country answer with a nuclear bomb, setting off world destruction? I called the man I still loved-even though we were apart. I wanted to say goodbye- in case that was what was coming. I knew life was about to change. I knew our view of life would not be the same again. That night I hugged my daughters so tightly. I tried to put all the unspoken prayers into my embraces. I tried to hug the apology for the world we were leaving for them to inherit. I had heard that we were borrowing the planet from our children. I wept for the way we were handling it. I wept for such hate. I sobbed for the degree of hate that unfolded that da I wept for what was yet to come.  ached for all the empty arms that night. It reminded me of the way I felt during the bombing of the Murrow building  in Oklahoma City. just heartbreak and anger at the senselessness of it.  Heartbreak for all the life well deserved and not able to come to fruition.

   The television shows all aimed at trying to provide a clarity, an understanding to the events that went on that day. They try to help us understand the perspective from those involved first hand and from those who experienced it on a very personal level. Not to be misled, this was personal for every American. We didn’t have to know the people lost that day, the people swept from the life they deserved to live out to their natural end. We felt the pain. We felt and prayed right along with those who were having their worlds change drastically in those moments. Those of us who knew the risks prayed for those who worked at the site for the weeks , the months to come. We prayed as our men and women departed for a country unknown to most of us. Let’s face it, few of us could pick it out on a map before then. WHile part of the country cheered on an action to bring about justice, the rest of the country began to worry about a war based on retribution in a vague direction not really knowing who exactly was responsible. But our leaders took on the attitude of doing something was better than nothing. There were just as many innocent people who stood to be affected but that was collateral damage to authorities. To many people they were innocents caught in the crosshairs of what was shaping into a religious war no matter how it was dressed up. The wars that followed left more tears. These battles weren’t really over land or resources. These were presented as wars over souls, wars over the right to believe as a person chooses. They were about the right to live without the fear of losing one’s life in an act of terrorism meant to be a forewarning of our ultimate destruction and total irradication of all who do not share their views. I have thought of what they would then resort to once they got rid of every other faith, every person in the west. Would they then turn on themselves. I have long held these fanatics were people who were actually serial killers who found their way of elevating their depravity to an act of heroism in their view. Delusions of grandeur were and are at the heart of people who believe themselves to be so above all else that they can’t think through their actions, their minds, their feelings well enough to see they are committing these acts of hate on the same creations of the god they worship. They believe th


One thought on “To say goodbye to you

  1. Firstly, I think it utterly appropriate for you to end as you did. Life interrupted. This is how it goes. We are swept away–and oftentimes right in the middle of something unfinished. It’s perfect.
    I also think your post was incredibly touching and had me clutching my heart with the memory of it all. I don’t think any of us will, or should, forget how we felt that day, and for each day that has touched us to some extent like 9/11 did.
    And as a writer who always craves the most beautiful of phrases, may I say that I’m in love with the sentiment that ‘everyone is somebody’s someone.’ That has touched me to the core.
    Thank you for sharing your memories of the day.

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