Perhaps one of the reasons that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 resonates so much with me is that this year, we experienced something akin to our own personal 9/11 in our family. A close friend, my best friend's beautiful, vivacious 25 year old niece, was brutally murdered, alongside with her fiance and four other members of his family. Her name was Katie.
On September 11, 2001, I remember experiencing a very vivid sensation of a rip, a tear in the fabric of humanity. Maybe it was that instant and tremendous loss of human life, all in the same small spot on earth, just a few square miles of lower Manhattan, all within a couple of hours. Maybe it was the sheer violence of the act that obliterated so many lives so completely, until literally there was nothing left but ashes and dust. Maybe it was the presence of pure evil that once and for all negated any possible sense of safety in the world. Whatever it was, I knew that the world would never be the same.
This January, when Katie was murdered, the fabric of our little world tore. Since then, we have been spending every day of our lives trying to sew it back together, but we all know that it will never be the same. Our needle and thread is the love that we feel for each other, and for her, and the overwhelming sense of community we share, and our blind and stubborn faith in life and the goodness of humanity, even in the face of pure evil. Just like on 9/11/2001, it was pure evil that ripped out a beautiful young life, and five others who did nothing to deserve this. And we were left behind, having to explain to our children, or at least help them cope, because there really is no explanation. And our children are faced with the gut-wrenching realization that this world is not safe, life is not fair, and terrible things happen to good people for no reason.
And so we stumble on, with sore and aching hearts and frayed nerves, a little more broken, a little more fragile, a little more sad than we already were, but still holding on to hope, and faith, and the love in our hearts. All of our hidden neuroses are now just this much closer to the surface; jumping at every siren we hear, praying silently every time we say good-bye; the never-ending worry about something bad happening to the ones we love is so much more real now, because something horribly bad really did happen to someone we love. The thin ribbon of anxiety that curls through every day is tying our hearts into tight little knots, even more frequently than before. And the sudden sadness that washes over us when we least expect it, triggered by a song, or a smile, or a butterfly, or the way the sunlight is reflected in my daughter's hair.
There are always more tears to cry; no matter how hard we try, our tear ducts won't run dry, because they draw from the deep and solemn well of our memories. It is what keeps us alive, keeps us human - the suffering, anxious, angry, neurotic, joyful, silly, loving creatures that we are.