Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More September 11 thoughts

On the 10th anniversary of September 11th, I was restless all day. I was determined to do something to commemorate the gravity of this date. Especially something that involved my 12 year old daughter, who had no actual memories of the event, and even though she had learned about it over the years, never had seen any news coverage, or fully grasped the magnitude of what happened that day. So I finally decided that we would bring flowers to our local fire department, in honor of the first responders. But first, every day life had to be attended to. I made trips to Target and the grocery store, did laundry, the usual Sunday stuff. My daughter was dragging her feet with finishing her homework, and I began to get irritated with her. I wanted to do this special thing, and I wanted to do it as a family, damnit, and we all were supposed to be in a sacred and solemn mood. Instead, we were all mad at each other, yelling, huffing, me threatening to "just go by myself", then more yelling and huffing in the car, as we finally pulled up to the fire station, which was of course closed, and left a bouquet of yellow roses and a card. There, we did it! Grouchy, stubborn, pouty, but we did it. Later on, back home, we all apologized to each other. I explained why this little gesture had been so important to me. We lit candles at our family altar that is filled with pictures of loved ones lost, and an eclectic collection of Christian, Buddhist and Pagan imagery. My little voodoo altar. Then we watched footage of 9/11/2001. We talked to our daughter about what  was happening, what it meant to us personally, and as a country. We talked about where we were that day, and what we were thinking and feeling. Our daughter listened and watched very intently. She asked questions, made comments. She is a very thoughtful and sensitive young person, mature beyond her years, who has been through some traumatic loss herself this year. Her soul could relate. We hugged and squeezed each other extra tight that night before going to bed. Then I stayed up and compulsively watched 9/11 images on you tube. There is a whole collection of images of people falling or jumping from the buildings, and entire discussion groups dedicated to the question whether they were falling or jumping. I felt guilty and voyeuristic looking at those photos, and at the same time I was compelled to watch them over and over again. I found an eery abstract beauty in some of the pictures; it might have had something to do with the sheer impossibility of what I was seeing, leading my mind to view it as art, as fiction. Far away bodies in flight, like birds, in small flocks of twos and threes, rarely alone. Graceful, as if dancing. One of the most unbelievable and haunting images was the famous image entitled "Falling Man", the figure of a man falling upside down, in a perfect ballet pirouette stance. He reminded me of the picture on one of the Tarot Cards. I have to look up that card and see what it means. I think of the Falling Man and his family, his friends. I think of everyone who died that day, and everyone who was left behind. My heart breaks, over and over again. I want it to break. I don't want to forget.

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